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Monday, March 31, 2008

Today in Campaign Promises

posted by on March 31 at 11:19 AM

Barack Obama says that, if elected, he will “seriously consider eliminating the penny.” While we’re at it, can we make a real commitment to a dollar coin?

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Dollar coins will only catch on if the paper ones are eliminated.

Posted by Jason Josephes | March 31, 2008 11:31 AM

I like pennies. I honestly know nothing about this: can someone explain to me why getting rid of pennies is a good idea?

Posted by Aislinn | March 31, 2008 11:35 AM

Dollar coins failed twice, or more times, because the SB-Anthony/Sacajawea things are TOO MUCH LIKE FUCKING QUARTERS. They need to do something like the Euro coin, or the Pound coin. Something totally different.

That said, I prefer the paper $1 note. I live half the time over in Euro/Pound land. The amount of HEAVY change one carries around is awful.
10 pound coins, or a similar amount of Euro coins, is substantial luggage in the pocket. The other nice thing about US paper money is that all the denominations are the same dimensions. Europeans -hate- that. They're wrong.

Anyway, the way the dollar's headed, it should come on perforated rolls, two-ply, safe for septic systems.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | March 31, 2008 11:38 AM

@2- because pennies cost significantly more than 1 cent per penny to make. It would be fine to have a penny coin, as long as it is made from material that would cost less than 1 cent per penny.

Posted by pollwatcher | March 31, 2008 11:38 AM

Can someone explain to me why this is even an issue? He's the one saying "Let's just give gay people equal rights and get on with the bigger issues" yet he's making PENNIES a part of his campaign?! Madness.

Posted by DanFan | March 31, 2008 11:39 AM

Somewhere recently I read a proposal to eliminate the NICKEL, and make the penny worth five cents. Probably some Jefferson-hater.

The failure of the dollar coin is, as @1 points out, the fact that the paper one still exists. They need to get rid of the paper dollar; they probably need to get rid of the paper FIVE as well; even it is close to the least valuable paper currency in the developed world. The dollar is a freaking joke, though.

However I believe the USA will cling to its laughably outdated currency until the end of time. That's just how we are.

Posted by Fnarf | March 31, 2008 11:44 AM
Posted by DanFan | March 31, 2008 11:44 AM

Let's ban pants!

Posted by Ziggity | March 31, 2008 11:44 AM

Do you people enjoy carrying change around? What's wrong with a paper dollar? The penny, with all due respect, is a bitch coin, and one that's not worth carrying around with you.

The only thing that people even use physical money for anymore is laundry, foosball, and drugs anyways. And the odd restaurant/mom 'n pop store that doesn't accept plastic.

Posted by dbell | March 31, 2008 11:51 AM

I like pennies. And that's why I'm voting for Hillary.

Posted by cheeseburger | March 31, 2008 11:52 AM

@7 - from snopes: "Rises in metal prices, particularly of zinc, pushed the per-unit cost [of pennies] up to 1.7¢ in 2007."

70% is significant.

Posted by dbell | March 31, 2008 12:01 PM

and i thought obama was for change.

Posted by infrequent | March 31, 2008 12:01 PM

12 wins! infrequent wins! This comments thread is closed!

Posted by Paul Constant | March 31, 2008 12:12 PM

With the price of copper rising, they should eliminate the penny just for that reason. I'm fine with either replacing the penny with a 2-cent coin that's not made out of copper. They would have to do an extensive test on any new material used for coins though. Imagine having a coin stain your pants when it rains.

I'm surprised we haven't heard more stories of people being charged with melting pennies back into copper pieces.

Posted by apres_moi | March 31, 2008 12:13 PM

@3 and @11 are right.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 31, 2008 12:17 PM

Given that the only argument for the penny is the sentimental attachment to Lincoln's graven image, it's significant that Obama is making this push -- the unexpected, idealistic, eloquent Illinois legislator being the only one in the room who can show old Abe the door. This is a real Nixon-goes-to-China moment.

Posted by William | March 31, 2008 12:19 PM

I agree with @3, the more time you spend in Europe dealing with pocketfull's of Euro change the more you can appreciate the paper dollar.

Posted by Todd | March 31, 2008 12:20 PM

The penny? Who cares. But caution on phasing out dollar bills: this is a European metrosexual plot to destroy our country! It is no coincidence they have sent their patron saint David Beckham—now seen gazing with desire at HIS OWN BODY on bus ads—here to play soccer, so as to soften us up.

The reason all those European men carry man purses is because THE MONEY IS SO DAMN HEAVY. Stripped of their dollar/euro/pound notes, they have to get the purses to carry the heavy coins. Then they go soft. And the terrorists win.

They’ve already taken over our neighbors to the north. The 3,000 mile border is no longer secure from infiltration by Canadian girlie-men. Now that Mexico is overrun with emos, surely they too will fall soon. We are the last defenders of freedom! If this plot succeeds and American men wimp out, all the terrorists will have to do is arrive in NYC, plant their terrorist flag at the site of 9/11, and our cherished freedoms will be lost forever.


Posted by John Birch | March 31, 2008 12:30 PM

@3 - why would anyone carry around more than four $1 coins at a time? you either spend them, or if you get a fifth, you change them in for a $5 note.

Posted by Lou | March 31, 2008 12:33 PM

@12- You win. You beat the Interweb.

I'm pro-anti-penny. I don't use 'em anymore, they just accumulate. I say get rid of 'em, and make a law regarding rounding that will average out to a nominal difference in the actual cost to citizens.

But a pocketful of change is just better. I have no more than $5 in change at any time on my person (in Canada, that is), and I can immediately tell by feel what denominations I have. If your complaint is that its too heavy to carry around, my 96-year old grandmother doesn't have any problem toting around some change, so why is it a problem for you (presuming you are more agile than the elderly)?

Posted by Tdub | March 31, 2008 12:35 PM

I think he just lost support of the Pressed Penny crowd.

Posted by pbaitch | March 31, 2008 12:42 PM

I wonder if Obama read David Owens's article in the New Yorker last week:

Posted by josh | March 31, 2008 12:57 PM

To second Paul Constant, infrequent @12 wins, although John Birch @18--to use phasing out the dollar bill as a springboard to rant about Beckham, man purses, and Mexican emos. Damn.

Posted by cressona | March 31, 2008 1:01 PM

@19. Oh, yeah, normal people go around optimising the coinage. It does not work that way, and I actually make an effort to reduce the tonnage.

Especially in Germany, where almost nobody accepts credit cards.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | March 31, 2008 1:01 PM

1. Get rid of the penny. Lincoln's the man, though, put him on a new and better dollar coin.

2. Bring back the $2! The only way to make the dollar coin work is to ditch the bill. But ditching the bill would freak people out, so replace the $1 bill with the $2 and people can use bills or coins but they won't be precisely the same so there'll be some mixing.

Maybe put Lincoln on the 2 and WA on the $1 coin. Sort of the first and second founders of the country.

Posted by daniel | March 31, 2008 1:13 PM

Wikipedia has a nice summary of the arguments for and against eliminating the penny.

Posted by JMR | March 31, 2008 1:18 PM

is he going to make pigs fly and rainbows shoot out of my ass too? i certainly hope so.

Posted by Emily | March 31, 2008 1:52 PM

I like the way the Danish got rid of their 'pennies'. The stores still price things to the penny, but when the total bill is given, it is rounded up or down to the nearest 'dime'.

Of course here in Jeebusland, somebody will invoke the Almighty, and nothing will happen.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | March 31, 2008 2:08 PM

when pennies are outlawed...

Posted by amazonmidwife | March 31, 2008 3:00 PM

Eureka! Now we know what step no. 1 will be in "change."

A brave proposal from the dude from the Land of Lincoln. It's like Nixon going to China.

If you saw The West Wing, you would understand.

Posted by unPC | March 31, 2008 3:05 PM

Pennies are almost entirely zinc, not copper.

Posted by Fnarf | March 31, 2008 3:12 PM

@3, @17: Thanks for your insightful comments on how unwieldy pocket change would become if we switched to dollar coins. I mean I'm all for a strong dollar, as long as it doesn't weigh too much. Until you mentioned it, I had forgotten how much of a burden coins can be. If I had a dime for all the times I had to stop, sit down and rest for all the change I was carrying... I'm just glad they don't make coins from precious metals like gold or silver anymore. Gosh they would be heavy.

Posted by Dr. JB | March 31, 2008 3:12 PM

@12, Yesss! Which begs the question: why are you Americans so afraid of change?

Posted by Irena | March 31, 2008 4:55 PM

Coins suck. Over here in Japan they have coins valued at roughly 1 and 5 dollars. Do you have any idea how pissed off you get when you sit down and hear change fall out of your pocket and realize you just dropped 10 bucks? If it was the states you could rest assured that the amount you lost probably was worth less than the amount of dignity you would lose by groping around and searching for it, but here...

Posted by Weevz | March 31, 2008 5:39 PM

Change is heavy.

That said, I'd be so down if they did away with the nickel and quintupled the value of a penny, if for no other reason than because I've got a ton of them at home ;P

Posted by Gomez | March 31, 2008 7:55 PM

I suppose it would be relevant that pennies cost more than a penny to make if they didn't last practically forever. You get more than 1.7 cents of value out of them in utility (even if some people do hoard them and take them out of circulation).

Oh, and do you think American businesses will start rounding prices down if they're eliminated?

Posted by Mr. X | April 1, 2008 9:10 AM

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