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The Great Penny Debate: Arguments for and Against its Continued Circulation

The penny, or one-cent coin, is a currency denomination that has been in circulation in the United States since 1787. It has been widely debated in recent years whether or not to continue its production and circulation. While some people advocate for the penny’s continued existence, others argue that it is a nuisance and should be phased out. In this article, we will explore the key arguments for and against the penny, looking at economic, cultural, and practical considerations.

Arguments for the Penny

Economic benefits

One of the main arguments for the continued circulation of the penny is that it has a utilitarian purpose. Proponents of the penny argue that it is crucial in maintaining the framework of the U.S. economy. The penny, they say, facilitates transactions by allowing exact change to be given and received, meaning that currency values can be calculated more precisely.

Another key economic benefit of the penny is that it supports U.S. manufacturing. The U.S. penny is produced using American materials, meaning that penny production provides jobs and contributes to the country’s economy. Moreover, if the penny were to be eliminated, other coins might need to be produced at a higher cost, creating a financial burden that could ultimately hurt taxpayers.

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Cultural and Symbolic Importance

The penny is an iconic expression of American culture. It is a symbol of American history, with roots that extend back to the nation’s founding. Some argue that the penny is deeply ingrained in American identity as a tangible representation of our nation’s values of thrift and economy.

Moreover, the penny has symbolic value. It is not just a piece of metal; it carries with it the legacy of the United States: Honest Abe Lincoln, who is featured on the coin, is one of the most recognized and beloved presidents in U.S. history.

Arguments Against the Penny

Practical Considerations

One of the key arguments against the penny is that it is simply impractical in today’s world. Many people find that pennies clutter up their pockets or wallets, and they often end up being discarded, lost, or left behind. Moreover, pennies are not accepted by many vending machines, and many transactions nowadays are carried out electronically, making the penny increasingly redundant.

Economic Drawbacks

Another major reason against the penny is its cost. It takes 1.8 cents to produce each penny, which seems counterintuitive from a financial standpoint. This is known as the “seigniorage” effect, which is the difference between the cost of producing currency and the actual face value of the currency. Essentially, producing pennies is not economically viable, and the cost of production outweighs the benefit of the penny’s intrinsic value.

Furthermore, eliminating the penny could also save retailers and banks money, which they could then invest elsewhere. In fact, some would argue that the penny is simply not worth the cost.

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Of course, there are counterarguments to both sides of the debate. Those who advocate for the penny argue that eliminating it could lead to inflation, while others contend that its elimination would have a negligible impact on inflation. The penny’s supporters also assert that charities rely on penny donations, which could be negatively affected by its elimination.

On the other hand, penny opponents argue that eliminating the penny could actually spur economic growth by saving time and money in transactions. Additionally, eliminating the penny would simplify transactions by rounding to the nearest nickel, making purchases simpler for consumers.


Ultimately, the penny debate is a complex issue with valid points on both sides. Those who value the penny may frame it as more of a cultural symbol, while those who support its elimination may view it through a more pragmatic lens. Regardless, the debate continues to rage on, with both sides making compelling arguments.

As you consider the penny debate, it’s worth keeping in mind that reasonable people can disagree, and there is no one definitive answer to the question of whether the penny should continue to be produced and circulated. One thing is certain, however: the debate over the penny is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

Key Takeaways

  • Proponents of the penny argue that it is essential in facilitating transactions and supporting American manufacturing.
  • The penny has cultural and symbolic importance, representing aspects of American history and values.
  • The penny is impractical in today’s world and its economic drawbacks outweigh its usefulness.
  • There are counterarguments to both sides of the debate, but no one definitive answer.
  • The penny debate will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
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Should I start hoarding pennies?

No. There is no real benefit to hoarding pennies or any other coins. They take up space and clutter your home.

Will eliminating the penny lead to inflation?

There is little evidence to suggest that eliminating the penny would have a significant impact on inflation.

What will happen to charities that rely on penny donations?

While some charities do rely on penny donations, it’s worth noting that many people already donate electronically. Those who wish to donate small amounts could still do so by rounding up their purchases to the nearest dollar.

Why is it so expensive to produce pennies?

Pennies are made using a combination of metals that have become increasingly expensive over time. The cost of production has risen to the point where it now outweighs the benefit of the penny’s intrinsic value.

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