Be glad you’re sitting down. Our nearly worthless pennies, though charming, are being kept in circulation by lobbyists for the folks who make zinc blanks.
Copper pennies only contain 2.5 per cent copper, with a whopping 97.5% being zinc. It costs 2.4 cents to make one (your tax dollars at work, Folks). So you’d think someone would say, “Okay, we have passed the point of diminishing returns, and it’s time to scrap the penny.”
But no. Americans for Common Cents (ACC) argues that we love our pennies—or maybe we should call them zinkies-- and want to keep them. Fortune listed all kinds of newspapers who ran this story as a survey fact, when it turns out ACC director Mark Weller even admitted in the Washington Times, “We make no secret that one of our major sponsors is a company that makes the zinc ‘blanks’ for pennies.”
Fortune noted that Jarden Zinc spends about $140,000 a year to get Weller to lobby for them. Sounds pricey until you realize Jarden received $48 million in federal contracts.
I personally like picking up “lucky pennies,” but is it worth the cost? David Owen wrote, in New Yorker, “Picking up a penny from a sidewalk and putting it in your pocket pays less than the Federal minimum wage, if you take more than 4.9 seconds to do it.”
For ten years now the cost of making pennies has exceeded their value. But guess what—now nickels cost twice as much to make, too. In fact, twice as much as making dimes. They’re made of 75% copper, and 25 % nickel. Can the zinc lobby be far behind?
You may as well spend those worthless coins on my fabulous books—click here for Jungle (riveting adventure-romance), Sisters in the Mix (hilarious chick-lit), Pinholes Into Heaven (literary fiction) and more!