Going down penny lane

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

April 8, 2008 Ed Cartoon

The penny may hold nostalgic value, but it just does not make sense to keep using a coin that costs more than it is worth.

With each penny costing the Royal Canadian Mint four cents to produce and distribute, and with approximately $130 million per year spent on the small copper coins, it is time Canada eliminated pennies from its currency.

While it may be worth very little, the penny still holds sentimental value. For some, the memory of the penny arcade or penny candies at the local convenience store is worth more than the coin itself.

But is nostalgia a good enough reason to keep the penny in circulation?

As they say, time is money, and the amount of time spent waiting for the meticulous person in front of you at Tim Hortons to dig for exact change translates into economic costs in addition to the high cost of production.

It is the nature of inflation for currency to lose value â€" the farthing and halfpenny were eliminated years ago. There is no reason we would miss the penny any more than other deceased coins.

Of course, there may be initial costs attributed to the elimination of pennies. Businesses would have to adjust prices and banks would be dealing with a rush of people trading their pennies for larger denominations, but many people do that anyway.

With more people swiping plastic each day, coins are staying at home in piggy banks. The inevitable extinction of the one-cent piece is merely another symptom of this trend.

The elimination of pennies could result in a reduction of donations to charity boxes at cash registers, though it could end the feel-good vibes people get from donating a measly two or three cents to charity. Instead, people hopefully decide to start dropping nickels, dimes, quarters and other change into the charity coffers.

From “penny pincher” to “a penny saved is a penny earned” to “a penny for your thoughts,” there is a plethora of penny-related idioms that would be missed. However, you can always look forward to explaining the meaning behind Frank Sinatra’s “Pennies from Heaven” to your future grandchildren.

On the list of hot topics, the elimination of pennies does not seem to be the most controversial issue. While smaller issues can sometimes galvanize the public, bigger current problems like Afghanistan, Canadian Blood Services’ policies on donations and the Darfur crisis mean it is unlikely the government will be seeing an uproar if it decides to implement this bill.

Pennies are only an extra, needless weight in our pockets. A coin that only the stingiest will even bother bending over to pick up, the penny surely won’t be missed.

That’s The Gazette’s two cents, at least.

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