Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, July 06, 2007

Penny For Your Thoughts

Finally, a good idea from the NDP. Not surprisingly, it's from Pat Martin, one of the few remaining NDP members of Parliament whose brain is in sufficient working order to enable him to come up with a good idea. He's drafting a private member's bill, it would seem, to discourage the continued production and use of the one-cent coin.

It's been done elsewhere, where countries feel it's more of a bother than a solution to making change. One penny doesn't account for very much, after all, in the general scheme of marketing and profit. Mind, there are people who believe in omens, and who always stoop to pick up a lost penny - for good luck to accrue to them. They won't walk under ladders, and black cats frighten them, too.

But how's this for an economic argument in favour of their discontinuance? Is a penny worth one cent? Well yes, because that's all you'll get for it. Mind, it's such a nuisance that most small retailers use the expedience of keeping a container of pennies handy beside the cash register so that if shoppers are short a penny or two, they can pick one out and hand it over.

Silly, isn't it? Yet sometimes, when I'm looking for three pennies in my change purse and they aren't there, and I have to hand over paper money like a fiver or a twenty-dollar bill because that's all I have at the moment, I feel resentful about it. Because everyone has pennies, lots of them; they're stored away in the most convenient or inconvenient places in our homes.

Why's that? Because they're a nuisance, they weigh too much and take up too much room for monetary exchange devices that aren't worth a damn. Sorry, a penny. I repeat: Is a penny worth one cent? Ssshh! don't tell anyone but it costs 5.95 cents to produce a single penny. Yep, that's what it costs The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, to stamp out one of those copper-toned coins.

They'd save us $30 million each and every year if we just said, hey it's all right, we don't need them any longer, stop producing the damn things. And they aren't maintained in full circulation, either. Why? Glad you asked: because, it would appear, people hoard them. No kidding: "People keep them in a bucket under their beds," said Mr. Martin.

Oh sure! On the other hand, could be. It's estimated there are 20 billion pennies in circulation in Canada, which works out to about 600 pennies for every Canadian. We're penny-wise and hoarding-foolish. What happens without pennies to weigh down your pocket or purse? Well, cash purchases would be rounded out. Now that's nice!

Don't pay in cash? You'll be charged the actual product price, including the pennies. If New Zealand, France, Spain and the Netherlands can get along without pennies, so can Canada. Go to it.

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