Death To The Penny!

OK, let’s get serious here, folks.  I want to propose something that’s been on my mind for at least 20 years now.

I want the United States mint to stop making pennies.  I am dead serious about this, too.

Impractical And Inconvenient

When you go to the store and pay with cash, your change almost always includes those coins that are 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper with a value of one one-hundredth dollar – the penny, the cent, the Lincoln head.  Now, what do you do with those pennies?  Do they even make it out of the store, or do you throw them into the little “Need One, Leave One” tray at the counter?  If the former, once you get them home, do you put them somewhere where you use them again in a future transaction, or do they just go into some container where they’ll stay until they get too numerous forcing you to bring them to a change counter somewhere?  I took a scientific survey* which shows that 91.3%* of people don’t ever use pennies for a purchase unless they happen to have the right amount on their person to avoid receiving more pennies.

So, pennies are a nuisance, for the most part.  They have no value for purchasing.  Go to a store – any store.  Look around for a product you can purchase that costs one penny.  Go ahead – I’ll wait here until you return…

So, what do you have?  What’s that?  “Nothing?”  Thought so.  There’s even no more “penny candy,” at least not for as long as I can remember.

Now, how about another experiment?  Go to a city.  Walk around until a person asks you for some spare change.  Hand them a penny.  How did they react?  I’d bet you a nickel that they were angry to some degree.  Once you wiped the spit off your face, did they seem grateful at all?  Probably not.

Here’s the thing – inflation has rendered the penny all but useless.  People not only can do without them, but also don’t really want them.  They’re used simply because they’re here.

The Penny

One US Cent

Cost More Than Their Value

So, aside from their impracticality, why else get rid of the penny?  How about cost?

According to the United States Mint, in 2010, the cost to mint one penny was 1.79¢ (Click the link and look at the first table on page 29).  Think about that for a minute… to make a penny, the US government spends almost 2 pennies.  In 2010, the US Mint shipped 3,487,000,000 pennies (Page 28 in the last link).  That’s three billion, four hundred eighty-seven million of them!  So, US taxpayers (of which I am one) spent $62,417,300 to make pennies worth a market value of $34,870,000!  I know that’s a lot of zeroes, folks, but stay with me for another minute.  We wasted $27,547,300, over 27.5 million dollars!  That’s right, we just threw it away, for a coin that is impractical and, really, unwanted.  We can add “unnecessary” and “wasteful” to the list.

So, if we get rid of the penny, what changes with our spending?  Well, not a whole heck of a lot, really.  If we can’t slice the dollar down to its hundredth portion anymore, we merely have to round those pennies to the nearest twentieth dollar.  That’s the nickel, my friends.

Rounding Numbers

Every time I discuss this with people, I get a funny look, and the question, “How can you do that?”  Simple, really.  You know how to round to the nearest ten, hundred, thousand, etc., yes?  Well, it’s the same thing, only in divisions of five.  To make it easier, I’ve made this table:

If The Cent Is: Round:
0 Nothing; keep the same
1 Down to the nearest dime
2 Down to the nearest dime
3 Up to the nearest nickel
4 Up to the nearest nickel
5 Nothing; keep the same
6 Down to the nearest nickel
7 Down to the nearest nickel
8 Up to the nearest dime
9 Up to the nearest dime

This is simple, really.  If a sale comes to $27.32, it rounds down to the nearest dime, or $27.30.  If a sale comes to $2.77, it rounds down to the nearest nickel, or $2.75, and so on and so forth.

Learning From History

This wouldn’t be the first time the US has changed its currency in this manner.  You may have heard of the hay penny, also spelled ha’penny.  It was the half-cent.  The US minted them from 1793 to 1857.  Why did they stop making them?  Because the value of a half cent became worth less and less, and its continued use became impractical.  In other words, for pretty much the same reasons I am using to make my case to kill the penny.

Penny For Your Thoughts?

What do you say, folks?  Do you think the time has come to kill the penny once and for all?  Let me know in the comments below.

* – By “scientific survey,” I do not mean scientific in any way at all, nor a survey by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m really just stating my own personal opinion, agreed upon by a few of my friends.

** – Uncertainty of -91.3%/+8.7%

Daddy Moment #5239: School Play

I have to take a moment to write about my middle daughter, Gabriella.  Based solely on each of their personalities now, I have predictions about what each of them will be when they grow up.  Gabriella, as far I can prognosticate, will be the entertainer of the family.  Thus, it was no surprise to me when she announced that she would audition for her school musical play.  Moreover, she was aiming for a solo.  I told her to do her best, study for the part, and that I would be rooting for her to win.

Of course, I, being the pragmatist I am, prepared myself for the role of consoler.  I knew there would be many children vying for the same part.  Add to that the fact that she had never performed on stage before, and I thought there was a good chance that my Little Angel would learn a lesson in disappointment.

My Little Angel, Gabriella

Last Thursday was audition time.  My mother, God bless her for her help, went to the school that day to pick her up.  “It was pure chaos,” she told me.  “There had to have been a hundred children trying out for this play!”  “Wow,” I thought, “even if she’s exaggerating, there had to be dozens of kids there.”  My heart sank a little for my daughter.  Competition was fierce.

Days passed, and Gabriella kept saying, “I can’t believe I have to wait until Tuesday to hear if I got the part!  WHY ISN’T TUESDAY HERE YET?!?”  Handling anticipation with patience is not one of her strong points.  “Don’t worry, Shorty, it’ll be here before you know it.  OK,” I said to her.  Again… and again… and again…

So, yesterday, Tuesday rolls around.  Much to my surprise, no play news was forthcoming.  My wife had Gabriella and Nicoletta, my youngest daughter, when I picked up Alessandra from my parents’ house.  I got called into work before they came home, so even if she heard anything, I wasn’t there to receive the news.  My wife didn’t say anything when I came home again, so I shrugged it off and went to bed.

The next day after work, I was the first one to get home.  While I was outside with Cooper, our dog, my wife came home with the kids.  When he finished his business, I brought Cooper into the garage.  My wife met me there.  “Daddy,” she said, “Gabriella has something to tell you.”  (Yes, we’re one of those couples who call each other Daddy and Mommy when our kids are around.)  Gabriella came out, head drooping down.  “Um, Daddy,” she moped, “I heard about the play.”  “Oh, yeah?  What did you hear,” I asked.  Her pout turned into hiding smile, then a wide-mouthed, toothy grin, “I got – I made – I… I got the part!”  She just about burst with the joy.  “You got the part?  You got the part!  That’s great, Angel,” I blurted proudly.  “Well,” she said, “it’s not a solo.  It’s a trio, though.  There’s two of them, but I’m in one!”  “AWESOME,” I shouted as I picked her up in a big hug.  She laughed and squealed joyfully.

So, out of dozens of candidates, my Little Angel, Gabriella, was one of six selected for the part.

I am so, so, terribly proud of her.

Congratulations, Gabriella.

Common Experiences

A short post today, consisting of a reaction I had earlier.

It occurred to me that there are so many things that divide us as a species.  Every one of us can look at another human being and easily see what is different.  We so readily define others as “What I am not.

Gender.  Gender ambiguity.  Racial identity.  Sexual orientation.  Religion.  Faith.  Religious denomination.  Economic status.  Nationality.  Political affiliation.  Sports.  Sports teams.  Diet.  Body shape.  Physical ability.  Physical disability.  Eye color. Eye shape.  Sickness.  Health.

All of these, whether apparent or not, are ways that we, as human beings, separate other human beings from ourselves.  I believe this is the source of many conflicts between us.  “You are different from me!”  Anger, loud words, war, oppression, and many other evils arise from this sense of “other,” or “unlike me.”

But then, I thought of two things, only two things, that we all share.  No matter the divisions between us, we all can claim them as our own.  This is part of our human condition.  What unites us.  What no one human can deny.

My Youngest Daughter, 2 Minutes Old

Birth.  Every human has a birth.

Death.  Every human will die.

Every human will experience joy at experiencing the birth of someone close to them.

Every human will grieve for the death of someone close to them.

As the two universal experiences, I go out of my way to acknowledge them with anyone.

I will purposely stop and wish someone a Happy Birthday when I know their birthday is near.

I will purposely stop and offer congratulations to someone who is expecting or has had a birth in their family or close circle of friends.

I will purposely stop and offer my condolences to anyone when I know they have lost someone dear to them.

I will purposely stop and offer a sympathetic ear to anyone who is near their death.

I try to focus on what we, as humans, have in common.  From there, I believe, we can build a better relationship with all people.

Parental Skills – Santa Claus & Thinking On Your Feet

Sometimes you set yourself up.  Sometimes, in the interest of expedience, you get that sudden moment of “Uh-oh!”

My father’s birthday is January 4th, a mere ten days after Christmas.  Now, the topic of having a birthday so close to Christmas is enough to fill five blog posts, I’m sure.  Fortunately, that’s only tangential to this one.

I was about to start wrapping my father’s birthday present.  It was a pretty large box, and I didn’t have enough wrapping paper.  So, I sent my nine-year-old daughter into the garage.  “Gabriella, get Daddy some wrapping paper.  It has to be a big roll with enough paper on it, and look good for a birthday, OK?”  “OK, Daddy,” she replied.

She came back in with a short roll of paper.  “Daddy, this is all we have.”  “That won’t do at all.  Look for something else,” I said as I sent her back.

She came back in with a large roll of Christmas paper.  She had a curious look on her face.  “Daddy, do you know what’s weird?  I noticed that we have the same wrapping paper as Santa Claus!  It’s all there: the paper he used for my gifts, Alessandra’s gifts and Nicoletta’s gifts!”

My mind raced.  She still believes, and I had to say something.  To myself I thought, “What do I say?  What do I say?  What do I say?  What do I say?”

“Oh, that’s because, um, Mommy and I were running low on paper for other people’s gifts.  Santa noticed, and, being the nice guy that he is, left that for us to use.  Wasn’t that cool of him?”  I waited for her response.  A second later, she said, “Oh.  He’s good at giving, isn’t he?”

“…He sure is.”

Phew!

My Favorite Useful Christmas Present

I have to hand it to my wife.  Besides being an intelligent, beautiful, wonderful, funny woman who happens to put up with an idiot like me, she’s also a great gift purchaser.  I was ecstatic to unwrap this beauty.

From the Weber website

Yes, folks, this is one instance where I demonstrate why I chose my blog name.

This rotisserie fits on the rim of my 22.5″ Weber kettle charcoal grill.  I plan on using this as soon as I have the time and buy the chicken.  Actually, I might try my hand at a turkey with this baby.

Bottom line: I eagerly await tasting the chicken this produces.

Also, my wife is awesome.

From The Mouths Of Babes – Billie Jean Lyrics

Silly lyrics from my daughters… in this case, my then-six-year-old middle daughter.

We had listened to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean more than a few times, and she decided to sing it one day.  The song was not playing at the time – actually, no music was playing; she just decided to sing the song without any prompting:

Oh, Billie Jean’s got my glove.

She’s just a girl who

Claims that I am a bum.

But her chair’s not that fun!

Hoo-hoo-hoo.

Uh-hoo-hoo-hoo.

I laughed.  She asked, “Daddy, what’s so funny?”

“Oh, Angel, I, um, just thought of something that happened a long time ago,” I replied.

She’s the one who is sensitive, and I dare not hurt her feelings.  Still, it was funny, and I will remember it for a long time.

My children are an endless source of joy for me.

Math-Minded Dad: Ages

I’ve mentioned previously that I am a very logical-minded person, and that I am passionate about math.  I allow this to influence my parenting methods, especially as a former teacher.

In this light, please allow me to share a recent exchange between my 11-year-old daughter, Alessandra, and me.

It began in a typical father-daughter conversation, where she decided to ignore my advice about something or other.  Naturally, I was proven right a few minutes later.

I said to her, “Now you, see, Alessandra?  Didn’t I tell you that you shouldn’t have done it that way?”

“Yes, Daddy,” she said, her eyes rolling audibly.

“Don’t you know how much longer I’ve been living than you?”  My question made her squint.

“What do you mean?”

“You had a milestone birthday last year,” I said, “right?”

“Yeah,” she said curiously.  “I turned ten.”

“Right,” I replied.  “And what milestone did I reach last year?”

“Forty,” she answered.

“So, I was how many times older than you?”

She thought for less than a second, then smiled as she answered, “Four… you were four times older than me.”

“Right,” I said.  “So, given that I am four times your age… you are how old now?  And how old does that make me?”

She thought for a second longer.  “Well, I’m 11 years old, so that makes you 44.”

“Exactly!  Good job!  And next year, when you’re 12, how old will I be?”

Quickly she spit out, “48!”

“Great work, Princess!  I’m proud of your math skills!”

Her eyebrows knitted together as she thought for a second.  “Daddy,” she said, her tone the same as when she explains something to her three-year-old sister, “that’s not how it works!”  She planted her hands on her hips and tapped her foot to make her point.

Innocently, I replied, “Really?  Are you sure about that?”

“Yes!”  We couldn’t hold back any longer, as we laughed at the silliness of it all.

I love my girls.  I love it even more that they are smart enough to see through, and appreciate, my goofy tricks.