Can We Survive Without the Penny?

Monday, April 09, 2012

Canada's decision to stop producing its penny has launched a discussion in the U.S. In Canada, it costs 1.6 cents to produce a penny — so getting rid of the coin will save the country an estimated 11 million Canadian dollars a year. Meanwhile, in the United States it costs 2.4 cents to make a penny.  Would frugal Abraham Lincoln approve? Richard Smith is the creative director at Sullivan, a New York brand engagement firm, and the president of the Dollar ReDe$ign Project.


Richard Smith

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja

Comments [3]

Pat from England

When it comes to such simple and obvious things, the US is so retrograde, it is funny. They are the last ones using the foot, the gallon, and they will be the last ones with worthless pennies. Lord, have mercy on these poorly lighting bulbs.

Apr. 09 2012 03:21 PM
AaronB from Massachusetts

I say do away with the penny. It’s worth less now than the half-cent coin was when it was discontinued. And we’re already dealing with the effects of rounding... With gas at $3.969 or state sales tax at 6.25%, we end up with totals that include tenths of cents, which (gasp) get rounded. The trick is to keep things priced down to the cent, and then round down or up for the total for cash transactions (debit / credit card purchases could be exact).

More comprehensive than just dropping the penny, though, would be dropping it and the nickel. Then rejigger our coins to be 10, 20, and 50 cents, and one dollar. Move Lincoln and Jefferson to the 10 and 20 cent coins. Drop Kennedy and FDR (though I am fond of both presidents) and throw Republicans (and nostalgic progressives) a bone by putting Teddy Roosevelt on the 50. Stay with the Native American theme for the one dollar coin, and massively increase production of the two dollar bill (with Washington’s face). Finally, make the bills out of polymer material like they do in Australian and New Zeeland (and will soon with the $100 in Canada) and we suddenly have a set of currency better suited for the 21st century.

Apr. 09 2012 03:10 PM


We could survive even better without ANY fiat currency.

Apr. 09 2012 12:16 PM

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