EDITORIAL: End of penny makes ‘cents’

NANAIMO – Conceptually a penny still makes sense, but the physical piece of copper itself has become redundant.

With the penny no longer being distributed, this moment is in the near future for practically everyone.

Waiting at the till of the corner store, or the coffee shop, the bill comes to $4.88. The customer hands the clerk a $10 bill and in return he gives back a $5 bill, and a dime. The shopper pauses, expectantly, and the clerk will smile and say with practised ease: “We rounded it off. We don’t use pennies any more.”

And that is the way it should be.

The clichés will still be there: every penny counts; a penny saved is a penny earned.

But the fact of the matter is money exists as a means of exchange. And as a means of exchange, the penny has become pretty well useless.

Inflation has rendered it about as helpful in everyday life as a pebble in the building of a rock wall.

To be clear, conceptually a penny still makes sense – it will continue to play a role in accounts, ledgers and electronic transactions.

But the physical piece of copper itself has become redundant. In order to buy virtually anything, one needs dozens, if not hundreds.

There is a reason people tell the clerk to keep the small change. It’s because it isn’t worth the time it takes for him to count it out, or the clutter it causes in a wallet.

And if it is an aggravation to shoppers, think of the time wasted by merchants and banks that have to count and process thousands of coppers.

It will eventually cost these agencies more to ship and count pennies than the actual face value of the coins themselves.

But if anyone is really struggling with the concept, try this one: there is a new penny in town and it will make things simpler.

It is called a nickel. It’s not worth much, but it works.

– Cowichan News Leader