Ivy Saves the World in Five Steps - a how-to series on the world's big, scary problems, and what I would do to fix them, if I had any power whatsoever and were a motivated individual
Pt. 5 - How to Save the Economy
There are no good solutions here, I’m sorry to say, but we’ve got to start somewhere, and these fucking things drive me nuts…Pennies. I hate them. I hate them so much. We need to get rid of them, and an economic downturn is as good a reason as any.
It costs three cents to make a penny, so every penny produced sinks our country further into debt. Every second you spend in the supermarket being handed pennies by a cashier (or waiting in line behind an Exact Change Lady counting out pennies with arthritic fingers), is a second lost forever, where you could have been working, or spending, or doing whatever it will take to solve the world’s economy. It is an amount of time which, added up over a lifetime, is entirely unacceptable, especially when you consider the fact that pennies are pretty much worthless. They do not work in parking meters, or pop machines, and I am relatively confident that nothing in the world costs less than a nickel, anyways. The only people who actually use them for their minuscule monetary value are the aforementioned Exact Change People (who will spend the afterlife on a special island in the depths of Hell), and large supermarket cashiers, who dole out copper instead of rounding, and leave the rest of us lugging around useless relics of a simpler time.
Some friends insist I should roll my pennies - it is money, after all. I had an unsightly pile of them stored up (wasting valuable space in a mug on my dresser), so I eventually ceded - I went to a local store on the bus, I bought coin rolls, and came home. The coin rolls cost two dollars for an assorted bag, and I spent the next half hour listening to music and straining my eyes while I counted my pennies into groupings of fifty - in the end I had five rolls worth, or two and a half dollars. Two and a half dollars. Enough money to buy a bottle of diet soda, or maybe a moderate sized zucchini. Fifty cents net profit for a half hour's work, not including bus fare. That is all.
When you factor in the transit, the coin rolls, and the emotional toil of it all, the numbers become all the more appalling. Minimum wage is eight dollars an hour, but rolling those pennies (or collecting my own money that I otherwise would not have had) paid a rate so tiny that I could sue myself for slave labor. If you factor in the amount of time that I spent in acquiring said pennies, putting them in my purse, placing them in my mug…I believe it’s very likely that I lost a great deal of money, and time, which I will never get back. I feel like I’ve been mugged.
Please, people, let us band together and stop cheating each other with this insidious copper beast. The penny costs far, far more than it is worth. Reject the penny. Do not collect them from cashiers…it is an awkward solution, but until our message is heard, it may be the only way.
In Australia, they round up or down to five cent increments. Their economy suffered no ill effects from the loss of the useless coin. No one carries around the ugly chunks of copper which weigh down the purses of the nation, literally and metaphorically, and they also party in the sun all day and surf and look like a happy bunch of people. I’m just saying.
The Globe and Mail agrees with me - check out their recent opinion piece. Of note: the ten million dollars the Canadian government spends a year on pennies that all promptly disappear from circulation. No more... The people demand justice!