Well the powers in charge of the powers that be have made their final declaration. There will no longer be production of and/or circulation of the daunted one cent coin in Canada. Our little copper friend, who filled that piggy bank of yours so gallantly, has gone the way of the dodo bird. No matter that there are nearly 35 billion of them still in circulation. Sadly, the last penny was minted in Winnipeg on May 4, 2012.
I guess it makes economic sense because they claim that the little coin costs 1.6 cents to produce. A penny can’t be worth 160 % of its face value now can it? After all, governments are not elected to spend our taxes willy-nilly. Maybe they are following the dictum of “A penny wise and a dollar foolish!” seeing as how, now that the penny is done like dinner, billions and billions of dollars are still being spent foolishly.
We are told that: Businesses are now beginning to round cash transactions to the nearest five-cent increment in a “fair and transparent manner.” I’m sure a costly and expansive Ministry of Penny Arbitration will need to be set up or, at the very least, each of us will need to carry a calculator to figure it all out.
Rounding, although applicable to my body in a physical sense, is not a skill I’m adept at in most financial situations. I’m from the school of, “Look after the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves.” Although, when it comes to pounds, no one in his household would say Grumpy is worth his weight in gold!
Think about this!
We also might be unknowingly turning all of our commercial businesses into, “quick change artists?” You know those flimflam people who distract a clerk into giving the wrong change.
CLERK: “You owe $25.13, mam. Just give me two tens, a five and a quarter or four fives, three toonies and we’ll call it even!”
How are teenagers ever going to figure out making change now, when making change is rocket science for some of them?
Finger counting will advance to a new level of calculation. However, it could be a hit or miss proposition, because the poor dears only have 10 fingers and 10 toes.
And sales tax, don’t even get me going on that! Will we pay tax on the nearest five-cent increment or not? Rounding up or down could very well be costly. How fair and transparent will that be, my friends?
Imagine Charlene Houle’s surprise when she went into a burger joint in Chatham, Ontario. The clerk outright refused to except her five copper coins even though they remain legal tender in Canada.
“I had $5 and five pennies piled up ready to go and she handed me back the pennies and said, ‘we don’t take pennies,'” said Houle. (CBC News: Windsor)
I guess the plan is to collect all those misspend pennies over the next several years and take them out of circulation. I think this will give a new meaning to “Penny Loafer”, don’t you think. You see penny loafers will be people like us who have a milk can half filled with pennies. We’ve been hoarding them for 20 years, so why would we stop now. No doubt, the Ministry of Penny Arbitration will have a Penny REPO Department with the power to institute a search and seizure for the elusive coin.
“Hello, I’m from the Ministry of Penny Arbitration – Penny REPO Department.” Agent flashes shiny badge. “We have a warrant to search your home for contraband pennies, sir.”
I’m sure the Learning Channel will jump right on this and introduce a new series called, “Penny Wars”! or, at the very least, spin a couple of new episodes of “Hoarders”.
Ben Franklin’s, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” might just become “A penny saved is a penny spurned” if it means 5 to 10 years in the big house.
An old Yiddish proverb states, “A penny is a lot of money, if you have not got a penny.” I can vouch for that.
There was a time in my life, long before millions begat billions and morphed into trillions, when a penny did have value. Heck, I could go to the Buck Variety in Galt, Ontario and walk out with a brown paper bag filled to the brim with penny candy – for a mere five cents.
Blackballs, jawbreakers, licorice pipes, candy cigarettes, sour keys and so much more were there for the taking for just a single penny. Sometimes it was three candies for one penny or even more. Pennies were like doubloons for the Dumfries Street Crew. We’d clean our penny hoard in a vinegar and a pinch of salt bath until they shone like a golden treasure.
My favorite soda treat was a 5 cent Flip or I’d buy that gum called Thrills (Tasted like coal oil, and cod liver oil laced with grape juice). Man 5-10 pennies in your pocket and you were like the most popular dude in the neighborhood. If you had 100 of those suckers you were practically a gangbanger. (Sans the droopy pants and the oversized ball cap)
Me and the boys in the hood would get up early on a Saturday morning with the cry of, “Let’s go collect bottles and baskets and hit up the Buck!”
We’d pull a red wagon and go door to door soliciting pop bottles and peach baskets from the friendly neighbors. Images of the Little Rascals might come to your mind.
Smiling bucktoothed Grumpy says, “Excuse me, mam, would you have any soda bottles or peach baskets you’d like to get rid of.” (Remembering, these were long before the days of recycling and stalkers.)
We’d take those peach baskets to Brayshaw’s Store, (The Corner Butcher and Fruit Stand) and cop five cents apiece for those baskets. Then it was off to the Buck for our two cents per bottle refund. A few times we’d score more than a dollar and spend it one cent at a time filling those marvellous paper bags to overflowing. Heck, we bought our first pack of smokes using some of these pennies claiming we were buying them for our fathers. We thought we were so cool smoking those menthol laced “KOOL’S” from that green little pack. They cost us 25 cents, I believe! Yes, we were a couple of peach baskets and a score of bottles from being addicted.Fast forward to 2013 and in my house the value of a penny has this connotation.
“Hey, dad, you got a penny for me for this scratch lottery ticket I got?”
When I was a kid I would have pocketed that little gem because that little sucker would cop me one Double Bubble or three black balls. But, no worries today, because I’ll find that penny seconded in the exact location the boy scratched his ticket, lonely and unattended.
But then, of course there is that “lucky penny” you find and pick up and save. Or perhaps you’ve thrown a penny in a fountain and made a secret wish; just as William Butler Yeats did in his poem, “Brown Penny!”
Brown Penny by William Butler Yeats
I WHISPERED, “I am too young,”
And then, “I am old enough”;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
Wishful thinking, I guess, but I think love is in the air, my friends. For love and for money, that’s what a copper was worth back in the day. We loved our candy and I have the open spaces in my mouth to prove it.
Did you know that copper as scrap gives a price of around $4.00 a pound today? The Toronto Sun (Feb.11) reported that theft of copper is big time business in Ontario.
“In the past two years, close to $10 million worth of metal – mostly copper – has been stolen from the province’s hydro towers and streetlights.”
In the file of stupid things to do, the report went on to say, “A man died last April north of Montreal after being electrocuted trying to cut copper wire from a hydro tower.”
So, I suggest a minute of silence for the demise of this fair but noble unit of tender. After all, in my house, “A Penny Saved – IS, WAS, AND ALWAYS WILL BE – a Penny Earned”! You see Grumpy, like all seniors, is becoming a penny pincher of the First Kind.
Furthermore, in the interest of all concerned, Grumpy boldly predicts the issuance of the “foonie” sometime in the near future. That’s right, folks, don’t you think we need a five dollar coin to further weigh down our already sagging pants? (Bold reference to Grumpy Blog: Wearing your Pants like Hip Waders.) A pocket full of loonies, toonies and foonies might just be Looney Tunes, don’t you think? Now it’s your turn. I want “A penny for your thoughts!” Leave a comment and tell me your experiences with our little banished coin and how losing it has made you rethink your view of finances, spending and pockets and purses weighted down with change. Meanwhile, I’ll be melting down those pennies in my milk can with the hopes of scoring a hundred bucks. That’s at least as worth as much as a case of beer plus a box of Turtles, dontchya think??In closing, I’ll leave you with this little quip from comedian, Tim Allen:
“Electricity can be dangerous. My nephew tried to stick a penny into a plug. Whoever said a penny doesn’t go far didn’t see him shoot across that floor.”