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A Closer Look at the Penny

By Jack Elrad, The Taft School

It is hard to go a day without dealing with one of those dreaded copper-plated disks known as the penny. The penny is the smallest unit of currency currently produced by the United States mint, and there is much debate as to whether our country should continue to make such an insignificant piece of currency.

Those who support the production of the penny are often those who feel as though discontinuing the penny would be disrespectful to Abraham Lincoln, as he is the president printed on it. However, Lincoln’s face is also printed on the five dollar bill, a piece of currency that is 500 times more valuable than the penny.

Others who support the minting of pennies argue that rounding transactions either up or down to their nearest nickel is impractical and would be difficult to have an entire country side with. This, however, has already been disproved as gasoline prices are currently priced to the tenth of a penny, and then rounded to the nearest full penny at the culmination of the purchase. This has been in practice for almost 8 decades now and very few people even notice this minute detail: most just overlook it.

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One of the most well known arguments against the production of the penny is the cost that the United states Mint currently spends to make the penny. According to the Wall Street Journal, it costs approximately 1.7 cents to produce a penny, which means that our country is actually losing millions of dollars each year by choosing to continue making the penny. If we lose 0.7 cents on every penny created, then in 2014 the United States lost $4.9 billion in the production of pennies: a currency many americans even consider a hinderance to posses. And because it is against the law to destroy US currency for their intrinsic value, that $4.9 billion lost in 2014 is unrecoverable.

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Finally, in 2007 New York’s ABC 7 news crew ran an experiment where they put 150 pennies in the sidewalk. They waited and for almost 30 minutes not a single person picked one up despite many of the pedestrians noticing them. This shows that people truly do not want pennies, EVEN IF THEY CAN GET THEM FOR FREE!