Will all coins go away now?

Finally, after years of talking, the Canadian government killed the penny in its recent budget. Finance Minister Flaherty was clearly thinking of decluttering and interior design, noting “Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home.”

There is also a real green side to this; the weight of all those pennies adds up, as does the cost and footprint of shipping them.

According to Bloomberg,

The savings to financial institutions alone may be about $20 million a year, as banks reduce transportation, storage and handling costs, the study estimated…. It costs the government 1.6 cents to produce one penny, which has been made of copper-plated zinc and copper-plated steel since 1997. The mint used 3.3 million pounds of steel, more than 154,000 pounds of copper and 50,700 pounds of nickel last year to make pennies at its facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It put 1.3 billion coins in circulation in 2011, half of which were freshly minted and half made from recycled materials.

Scott Stinson of The National Post is worried about the effect on the English language.

The penny’s elimination also throws into question a number of popular expressions, such as “penny for your thoughts” and “mind your pennies and the nickels will take care of themselves.” The remedy to this new crisis is not readily apparent: does anyone really want to pay a nickel for someone’s thoughts? That’s a 400% price increase in the price of thoughts! And, if we are to begin minding our nickels, can we be sure that the quarters will take care of themselves? This remains an unproven thesis.

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by Lloyd Alter