Getting rid of the penny is like converting to the metric system: people argue for years that it is inevitable, but it never really comes to fruition. Instead it remains a staple of elementary civics discussions

I always wondered who would really lobby for the penny as it is today. While we don’t have to dispose of a single-cent coin, it would behoove us to make it a bit more cost effective. And who is really profiteering off of such an endeavor?

My answer came in a CNN Fortune article published today: Don’t Mess with the Penny Lobby

[the ACC is] “a consortium of 50 groups that are working to highlight the benefits the penny provides to the economy and consumers.” …  In few such accounts is it noted that the ACC is run by the main lobbyist representing the zinc industry, which supplies most of the metal used in pennies. The “report” was merely a short statement from the group citing various opinion polls, most of them completed from 12 to 20 years ago. The most recent was conducted in 2006 — by Coinstar (CSTR), a business that is built largely on the fact that Americans must periodically haul huge, penny-filled cider bottles to vending machines if they want to turn the coins into usable currency. (Coinstar  also owns Redbox, the movie-rental outfit). The link provided by the ACC to Coinstar’s survey is broken, and there is no information on the company’s site about the survey, which, according to the ACC, found that two-thirds of Americans want to keep the penny. That’s the number several media outlets cited in their accounts of the “new report.”

It costs 2.4 cents to make each penny. … “Picking up a penny from a sidewalk and putting it in your pocket pays less than the Federal minimum wage, if you take more than 4.9 seconds to do it,” writes New Yorker writer David Owen in his recent anti-penny column in the New York Times.

There you have it – there’s a market for everything, even pennies.


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