Should U.S. do away with the penny?
We heard the sayings in childhood:
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“See a penny and pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck.”
Canadians, apparently, aren’t banking on that good luck anymore. On Monday, our neighbor to the north started phasing out its penny, now considered a nuisance coin that clutters dressers and costs more than one cent to produce.
The Associated Press reported that on Monday the Royal Canadian Mint officially ended distribution of pennies to financial institutions. While people may still use pennies, the government has issued guidelines urging store owners to start rounding prices to the nearest nickel for cash transactions. Electronic purchases will still be billed to the nearest cent.
The Canadian government expects the coin to eventually disappear from circulation.
The AP also reports that the Obama administration looked at using cheaper materials to make the penny, which is now made of zinc.
Bills calling for the end of the U.S. penny, introduced in 2002 and 2006 by Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe, failed to advance in the House.
The U.S. zinc lobby (who knew there was such a thing?) has been a major opponent to suggestions that the penny be eliminated. (A desire, no doubt, to keep more pennies in the industry’s coffers.)
Do you bend over to pick up a penny when you see one lying on the ground? Do you have a jar of pennies filling up in your home? Do you think the U.S. should follow Canada’s lead and do away with this little-valued coin?
Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow him on Twitter or