Earlier this week, Canada officially killed the penny. Realizing that it was costing the government more to mint a penny than the face value, our neighbors to the north made the tough decision and kicked the penny to the curb. Canada won't be making new ones, and the ones in use will slowly be removed from circulation.
The question is, should the United States follow suit?
Consider this: In 2013, due to materials and production, a U.S. penny cost the government 2.41 cents to produce. Since 4.3 billion of them are minted each year, that'll be a $103,630,000 loss! The first year it cost more than one cent to craft the penny was in 2006, because the cost of zinc and copper have both continued to rise over the years.
For the past couple of years, the Mint has been investigating new materials in penny production, but so far nothing has measured up. They cannot find a replacement that gives the feel and look of a penny while still giving it the same conductivity (necessary for vending machines and other coin-slots which use electricity to determine what coin you deposited), too.
Canada is handling this new situation by having the merchants round the total to the nearest nickel for those paying in cash. It seems like a good idea on paper, but have you ever been charged $4.99, only to hand over a fiver and not get a penny back? You feel like it's stupid to complain, but it still rankles you, right? Now imagine that happening with two cents every time. There might be some ill will.
What do you guys and gals think we should do? Should we continue investigating new ways to produce the penny, in the hopes that we can keep it? Or, should we just cut our losses and get rid of it? In other words: Is change good, or should we change?
Photo credit: Long Creek to Watoto