The U.S. Mint produces approximately 8 billion new pennies every single year, and the production cost is higher than their worth. So, why do we still bother with them?
On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver revealed that each new penny costs 1.7 cents to make, and that two-thirds of pennies don’t circulate, as many Americans have even admitted to throwing them in the garbage. However, resistance from the penny lobby (an actual, real group called Americans for Common Cents) as well as pushback from organizations attached to Abraham Lincoln’s face on the penny (despite his much more valuable real estate on the $5 bill) have kept the worthless piece of currency in circulation. According to Oliver, the U.S. Mint has even declared “there are no alternative metal compositions that [would] reduce the manufacturing unit cost of the penny below its market value.”
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Canada, Ireland, Australia, and more countries have dropped the penny entirely, and, somehow, their economies have yet to crumble. In fact, as Oliver pointed out, the U.S. dropped the halfpenny (or half cent) in 1857 when they realized that “inflation had rendered its buying power obsolete” and “that was when people were scared of the moon and wiped their arses with rocks.” See the full segment above, and get on board, America.