February 20, 2012

A penny saved

One logical proposal buried in Obama's 2013 budget proposal is to make pennies and nickels cheaper to produce. Only 2.5 percent of a current penny is copper, but it still costs 2.4 cents to make 1 cent.

Since 1955, the Japanese 1 yen coin (currently worth a tad more than 1 cent) has been made out of aluminum. They're so light they float (technically they ride on the water tension).

Aluminum costs about the same as zinc (per pound), which makes up most of a penny. But zinc is three times denser than aluminum, so the savings would be substantial.

A penny might even cost less than a penny to make. Plus, a bunch of them wouldn't tear a hole in your pocket. (Though I can't remember the last time I paid for anything in hard cash using a penny.)

On the other hand, a first-class stamp in Japan goes for 80 yen, or about a dollar (twice what is currently proposed by the USPS). Maybe pennies should be stamped out of paper like raffle tickets.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

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