Saturday, April 22, 2006

Get Rid of the Penny!

Today's New York Times reports:
it costs the mint well more than a cent to make a penny.
The solution, in my view, is to get rid of the penny.

Indeed, I would advocate this even if the penny were free to manufacture, as I argued earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal. The purpose of the monetary system is to facilitate exchange. The penny no longer serves that purpose. When people start leaving a monetary unit at the cash register for the next customer, the unit is too small to be useful. It is just wasting peoples' time--the economy's most valuable resource. The fact that the penny is costly to make only adds force to the argument.

Maybe we should get rid of the nickel, too. We can then round all prices to one decimal rather than two.