Monday, July 07, 2008

Is there a continued need for the US cent coin?

I grew up in the waning days of the British farthing (it was tiny, and the old penny was huge, thus the "penny-farthing" bicycle). A quarter of a penny, it could buy little, but still existed because people rather liked it (it had a Robin red-breast, a completely different bird to the North American Robin, on its obverse). Eventually, it went, but the half-penny survived until the introduction of decimal currency. At that time, there was a half new pence, worth 1.2 old pennies, which has slowly faded out and the new penny is worth 2.4 old pennies, or 9.6 farthings. The reality is that the US nickel is worth less than one cent was before WWII, so do we need it? Until 1859 there was a US half-cent, but it was abandoned because of declining value. If we are to look at inflation since then perhaps the smallest coin should be the dime, since 10 cents now is worth what one cent may have been back then. Of course, there is no logic for retaining the dollar note. It should be a coin. While many say that notes are cheaper to produce than coins, they do not realize that notes may only last 6 months, whereas coins last for many, many years, and even then can be re-cycled.

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