The Wall Street Journal

January 21, 2006

A Pocketful of Pennies Aren't Worth Their Weight
January 21, 2006; Page A9

In response to N. Gregory Mankiw's Jan. 3 editorial "Repeat After Me1" and the Jan. 11 Letter to the Editor in response from Mark W. Weller of Americans for Common Cents:

The abolition of pennies is long overdue. When the half-cent was abolished in 1857 it was worth more than eight cents in today's currency. People then had no problem living in the following decades, during which the smallest unit of currency was worth more than our dime today. In fact, they persevered through that transition without the luxury of the many cashless means of electronic transaction we enjoy today (which, even after penny abolition, can preserve prices to the cent).

Mr. Weller frets about hundreds of millions of dollars that could be transferred from buyers to sellers who choose to round up to the nearest nickel. Maybe they will, but nobody today seems terribly concerned with which way the rounding goes to bring sales tax to the nearest penny.

Meanwhile, so many physical pennies are lost or discarded each year that our government spends more than $100 million per year just to mint new ones.

David Bookstaber
Berwyn, Pa.

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