The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
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Stop the Minting of the American Penny

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 2/7/2015 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,084 times Debate No: 69214
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
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I believe that the American penny, for many reasons, serves no real purpose in our modern world, and we should cease minting it as soon as possible.

First round is for acceptance only.


American Penny: the one cent coin currently used for the USD (United States Dollar, $).
Mint: to make a coin.


Contrary to the original post, the penny does actually provide a real purpose in our modern world. And not only this, this debate has been won by the Con side throughout various times in our nation's history.

There exist many jobs in the zinc and zinc-related industries that produce these pennies, as well as transportation jobs in relation to delivering pennies to various institutions. By ceasing the production and minting of the penny, we see many of these jobs that would be otherwise lost. These providers of zinc and copper would lose contracts worth tens of millions of dollars every year if such pennies ceased new production.

In 1982, these pennies were made from brass, and were also engaging in a higher production cost. However, in this year, zinc was used to provide 97.5% of the composition of the penny, with the thin copper plating on the outside of the coin. Initially this saved the government millions of dollars, but we have seen recently the rising prices of zinc. It is true that such rising zinc prices have increased the price of the penny, but there is no reason why the composition of the penny cannot be revisited as a way to cut down on costs on production, without having to cut the coin all together.

Hypothetically, if the cost of ink and paper exceeded $1, would we eliminate the dollar? If it exceeded $100, would we tell all the Benjamin Franklin enthusiasts that his likeness and portrait will be less commonplace? Of course not, as there are many materials that can be made to provide coins and currency, and the re-visitation of such denominations is a sufficient way to address such concerns.

As another example, in 1943, the Mint produced pennies made of zinc-coated steel to conserve copper for military use, yet we still kept the penny as a valid denomination.

So conclusively, the point is not to abandon the penny all together, but provide steps to reform the concentration and the composition of the material that we use in making such a denomination.
Debate Round No. 1


Con missed the rule that said "First round is for acceptance only," and has respectfully agreed in the comments to concede the final round.

I would like to say in passing that when I said defined penny, the part about it being the "coin currently used" was meant to suggest that it was the coin made in the way that we make it now, with the huge amount of zinc with a copper coating. I'm sorry this wasn't very clear, and as such I will not address the definition in that context again and will refrain from using that part of it in the debate.

Section 1: Content of the USD Penny
The argument about the zinc industry as a whole is not a fair argument, particularly when considering my opponent's suggestion for reforming the penny. If one was to agree with my argument, that would mean no further production of the penny. However, if someone was to side with my opponent, it would mean reforming the penny's composition to reduce the cost...which would mean using significantly less zinc. This essentially renders my opponent's argument null and void.

"These providers of zinc and copper would lose contracts worth tens of millions of dollars every year if such pennies ceased new production."
"It is true that such rising zinc prices have increased the price of the penny, but there is no reason why the composition of the penny cannot be revisited as a way to cut down on costs on production, without having to cut the coin all together."

I would also like to see a source that shows that cutting the penny would cost this much for copper and zinc producers. If this is true, perhaps it would make it easier for producers to focus on more useful zinc and copper products than the penny, such as galvanization for the former and wiring for the latter, as well as various other practical uses [1][2]. If this cannot happen, then this is simply an unfortunate side effect of a capitalist society moving forward in time. This sounds harsh, but let me ask: why don't we see people building cars in assembly lines as much as we see robots doing it? Why are deliveries from milkmen so rare nowadays? And why did Kodak tear down numerous buildings and fire thousands of people when they didn't get enough sales in the paper and film industry (and wrongfully believed there was still a big business in it)? It's because we no longer see a use for these things or have a use for them. The penny will similarly have to go.

Section 2: Use (Or Lack Thereof)
Of course, this is not just an issue of what we make the penny out of, but it is also an issue of the penny's low buying power. The penny costs more to make than it's worth, which, as one of my commenters has pointed out, is not a valid argument in and of itself, considering currency is frequently used and is thus ultimately worth more than its face value. That being said, we've been using the penny so infrequently that it's costing the US around $900 million each year [3]. They're very unworthy of our time. In fact, in the time it takes for people to take out pennies or even pick them up, the average American earns more than one cent [3][4].
These same issues of low buying power do not apply to the $1-$100 bills, and as such it would be wise to keep them and find a new way to make them. The fact that the penny costs so much to make would just be an added bonus for getting rid of it, but it's not the main one. We got rid of the half penny back when it had buying power that would take eleven cents today [4] because it wasn't realistic to keep it with such a low buying power. It only seems logical, then, for the penny to follow suit.



Yea sorry about the mishap. Thanks for being understanding though.

That being said, this will be my last round for arguments, so I will respond to the Pro side’s last post and provide more clarity on my position.

Section 1: The Penny has an Economic Impact in Industry, and Industry Tries to Help.

In my last round, I reported that if the penny suddenly stopped being produced, that there would be a significant impact in the zinc industry that could cause large contracts with the government to be essentially voided. One such contract is with Jarden Zinc Products[1][2], who currently have contracts worth millions with the government to produce such pennies, and such voiding of coins for production would significantly have an impact on this industry.

These companies don’t try and stifle the American government either, as such industry uses modern technology to reduce the cost of the manufacturing. Multi-ply plating technology is now used to reduce cost when compared to through alloy coins, and makes these coins possess a unique electro magnetic signature (EMS) which provides for greater coin security.[1]

So yes I see the Pro’s side in that robotics can help manufacture durables (or pennies for this debate) cheaper, and that’s great, but against Pro’s argument, you don’t see people abolishing the car…. Or milk. It takes people to come up with such testing and technologies to try and achieve ideas to manufacture better, so yes this is not only jobs being lost, but innovation as well.

Section 2: Financial Impact of the Penny’s Absence

If the penny were to cease production, there would be many undesired consequences from this action that would be counter-intuitive from the Pro side, but would quickly become devastating realities for the general public.

Intrinsically, if the penny were to be removed from production, there could be no way to sustain prices realistically without rounding to the nearest 5 cent piece. Millions of transactions are managed every day in the United States, and with 28% of Americans either not owning a savings/checking account, or trusting on payday lending services[3]. With this data, the amount of cash/coin trades each day is purely not dismissible, not withstanding that cash is used in 46% of all transactions in the U.S[4]. Demographics with comparatively low incomes (predominantly the young, elderly, and minorities) use cash more commonly than people with higher incomes. Because only cash dealings will be subject to rounding, any move to eradicate the penny would be regressive and hurt these demographics of Americans who have no other choice and do not possess the means to make non-cash transactions.

According to one report[5], the Treasury would essentially lose money without the penny. First, the Mint's construction and circulation costs include fixed elements that will continue to be incurred whether or not the Mint manufactures the penny. The report approximates this fixed component at $13 million (2011). In addition, there is $17.7 million in operating costs apportioned to the penny that would have to be engrossed by the remaining denominations of circulating coins without the penny. Moreover, under present Mint accounting, the nickel expenses eleven cents to produce (and the nickel isn’t even being targeted in this debate). In a scenario where nickel manufacturing doubled without the penny, the study determines that with current fixed costs, abolishing the penny would prospectively result in increased net costs to the Mint of $10.9 million, compared to the current state of manufacturing.

Section 3: Proposed Solutions

As I previously stated, there are better ways to resolve this debate, and the best way is to make the penny worth 1 cent again. In 1982, the United States changed the composition of the penny to reduce manufacturing costs, and such similar solutions can be found again in contemporary times, ending an outdated 30-year solution.

An option that could sustain such reduction is costs calls for a core of some sort of ceramic material, with similar heft as zinc[6]. Ceramics are metal-based and consequently much denser than plastic, though not as heavy as metal itself. Ceramics could be made from 2 inexpensive compounds: silica (SiO2) and alumina (Al2O3, or possibly with a bit of denser oxide such as titanium oxide added for weight. The ceramic penny core likely could be anodized with a copper skin fairly cheapl, thus no longer requiring the use of zinc to manufacture our pennies.

Section 4: Current Trends

Over the past couple years, the prices of the metals needed to produce the modern penny have actually decreased. According to a report from the Department of Treasury[a], after attaining a peak cost of 2.41 cents in 2011 due to the substantial growth in global metal prices, the cost of manufacturing has dropped to 1.83 cents for 2013.[4] In the 2014 fiscal year, the cost to yield a penny fell additionally to 1.70 cents.

Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) has introduced a bi-partisan bill to mandate the use of steel in the manufacturing of pennies, dimes, and nickels. . Research has shown this bill could save the U.S. government up to $2 billion in material costs over a 10 years.









Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to con for relinquishing the last round, and for joining me in this debate.

If we look at con's fifth source, which s/he used to stress his/her belief that the US will lose money, we see in exactness why Rodney Bosco, the author of the article, believes this to be the case. Mr. Bosco states that getting rid of the penny, a coin produced with money lost as a result, would "...increase demand for the nickel, which is also currently produced at a loss" (p.2). While this is true, simply keeping the penny and changing the contents of it would not be an adequate measure. Perhaps changing the nickel's contents, a coin that has ten times the buying power of the penny, would be (or we could get rid of it too, but that's for another debate, I suppose). Even using the multi-ply plating technology would not be enough. To stress this point, Bosco said that such technology has "...been successfully used by the RCM to manage circulating coinage for Canada..."(p.3) - a country that even with this method got rid of their penny three years ago as of this May. I must stress that the penny's content is something that can be changed, but is not worth changing when considering how low its buying power is.

As for the argument "you don’t see people abolishing the car…
. Or milk," I don't see this as a perfect comparison. Cars provide fast and effective transportation, and milk has nutritional value. Pennies, on the other hand, don't provide the services that they should. Even the argument pertaining to those who use cash to pay for things doesn't have much basis, and I'll explain why: the part about rounding up goes against what I've already said about the myth of the "rounding tax" back in Round 2. Most places that have gotten rid of the penny round both up and down, and it's worth mentioning that no significant effect has been shown to the economy and there has been no significant or noticeable rise in prices nor, for that matter, has there been any decrease in charitable donations [1]. It is also worth mentioning that people who are poorer and would use money more are statistically more likely to donate money to charity.

Finally, I would like to say that the amount of money earned back from reforming the penny does not reach how much we have lost, as attested by my argument in Round 2.

I thank con again for joining me in this debate. Vote for pro.



Thank you to the Pro side for being understanding in the mixup in the beginning, and in respect, I relinquish the third round for fairness.

Thank you to Pythasis for hositng this debate, and best of luck to him in voting and all his future debates


Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Pythasis 2 years ago
Anyone wanna vote? :P
Posted by Gackhammer 2 years ago
Whoops, I concede my third round in the debate
Posted by Pythasis 2 years ago
You do have a point @Beagle_hugs, especially when concerning the part about currency having volume, and factual studies can be a bit hard to come by for this topic.
Posted by Beagle_hugs 2 years ago
As far as arguments against the penny go, they vary in how convincing they are (no matter what your ultimate conclusion). The argument that they cost more to make than they are worth is moronic, because currency has volume (it is spent many times each year). Other arguments seem more convincing, but are actually not that impressive in an economy where credit and debit transactions are increasingly replacing hard currency transactions. It's often the case that anyone using any currency is slowing things down compared to credit/debit, and it's often the case that the theoretical penny is irrelevant to the time of a transaction (which is being done electronically).

So even though physical pennies may be more likely to end up ruining your vacuum than in a cash register, it's not abundantly clear how much weight should be given to the claims made on the video (or claims like it). Electronic transactions are also part of the equation, and it would need to be shown that the coding and other inputs/effects of those transactions wouldn't be a net cost.

I would be happy to debate this at some point, but I don't debate issues like this on pure theory and assertion, because then some guy in a youtube video can make a position look really obvious that actually isn't all that obvious. If I can find some factual studies one way or another, I might be interested.
Posted by Beagle_hugs 2 years ago
sorry, chuz-life...
Posted by Beagle_hugs 2 years ago
pythasis, the problem with your argument is that unit prices wouldn't raise by increments of .05 instead of .01, instead, charges would raise by a few cents.

e.g. gas could still be 2.3199 with taxes, and if you bought 11 gallons of it, you'd pay $25.55 instead of $25.52.

Note that it's already true that gas is charged in unit prices that don't conform to currency, and that stamps have been sold that were worth incremental pennies. Rounding up at the end to the nearest unit of currency has been a concept that has been with us for quite some time, so the pricing argument really doesn't work.
Posted by Chuz-Life 2 years ago
@ Pythasis

No thanks. Debating about pennies is not very high on my list of priorities. Besides, I already gave my arguments away.
Posted by Bullveigh25 2 years ago
in canada we have been done with the penny for maybe 2yrs now. its actually nice not to deal with them. its always rounded up or down to the 5. i read that it costs two pennies to make a penny. the gas prices still rise and fall the same but when you pay its rounded up or down. i think it works out, i dont miss them
Posted by Pythasis 2 years ago
@Varrack Thanks, this is actually one of the videos that convinced me into believing that the penny should be gotten rid of quite some time ago :P
@Chuz-Life Care to debate it?
Posted by Chuz-Life 2 years ago
Great, so prices raise at increments of .05 instead of .01?

Gas, stamps. . .

No thanks.
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