If you haven’t seen CGP Grey’s "Death to Pennies" video, it’s worth the watch. Funny, and mildly enraging. It raises a great question that deserves answering: Why DOES the U.S. Mint continue to produce pennies, year after year?
After all, it costs more to mint these coins than they’re worth as currency.
You can’t use them in vending machines, parking meters or arcades.
They accumulate in jars and slow transactions.
Yes, technically, you can throw them in a fountain and make wishes on them. And they have more intrinsic value than, say, Bitcoins. But they’re also choking hazards. Per CBS news:
Coins, especially pennies, are a major choking hazard and since adults rarely pick them up, they are plentiful on the ground for children.
Many people have had enough. Last April, U.S. Senators John McCain and Mike Enzi reintroduced a piece of legislation called the Currency Optimization, Innovation, and National Savings Act (a.k.a. the COINS Act), which would have finally put the penny in a well-deserved grave and saved $16 billion to boot.
AOL reported that
Although it is unclear why that legislation did not pass, the Wall Street Journal pointed out in 2013 that, according to the Federal Reserve, dollar coins were so unpopular that about $1.4 billion worth of them had been produced but were not being used.
At some point, our elected officials will clearly get it together and bury the penny. But when? Specifically, will the U.S. stop minting pennies before 2025?