Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Avoid a slow news day with a copper-plated penny

Translation of a SébPhilatélie article published on Monday November 23rd, 2015.

In French journalist slang, a marronnier is a topic of little importance that can be done and redone as necessary or on a seasonal rythm: How to bake a turkey late November in the United States for example, or final very late presents shopping on Christmas Eve.

In the United States, the elimination of the most little coin in the country comes back regularly in the news and, on Sunday November 22nd evening, in the HBO's satirical-brainstorming show Last Week Tonight hosted by John Oliver.

The show publishes the week's topical monologue on its youTube channel (HBO is a pay television).
As the power hammer endlessly strikes until the print is definitively marked, one more show explained again to the public why the U.S. Mint should stop minting the one cent coin figuring President Abraham Lincoln.

The profitable argument is the coin cost more to be minted than its face value and, socially, because too many people hoard them, lose them (in-between the cushions of the sofa), use them in their [censored: watch the video] or are imprudent enough that their children or dogs eat them...

On the social side again, citizens even refuse to use them! Oliver introduced two slow news day report from two different local channels: reporters threw pennies on the street and no-bo-dy took them, even when directly offered to do so... In a 2002 Gallup survey, it was concluded that two per cent of the people throw them in the trash can.

The only thing saving the cent from a Congress vote of anihilation is the lobbying by a zinc disc manufacturer: the zinc disc being copper-plated in order to lower the production cost at maximum. Oliver precised that this firm is part of a zinc conglomerate that makes a lot more money with other things done with that metal. But a penny's a penny.

Concerning the fear of having Abraham Lincoln forgotten, Oliver has a five hundred more valued treasure to remember him: the five dollar bill!

This debate interests Europe too since the introduction of the euro coins and banknotes in 2002, with the same basic arguments: production cost, people finding them a nuisance.

But for collectors, Finland has never issued them, the Netherlands soon thereafter, and these past two years Belgium and Ireland. In these countries, when paid in cash, the amount can be rounded to nearer multiple of five.

After the recent Irish announcement, as always, the buzz have started again in French medias without any concrete meaning: Fortuneo precises that Parliament is not seized of the matter... and many republished articles about your cents are a gold mine in your pocket. It is known that Monaco coin speculators, capable to create a numismatic stampede in the quiet chic Principality, let you freely get some cents from there without any wear traces in your change.

Why is the subject a tabou in France? The fear of inflation after many still believe the euro introduction the cause of it in the 2000s... In a remembrance article about the disappearance of the half-penny coin in Britain, the BBC published a graphic that shows the one point rise of the inflation rate in 1985 lasted one year. Surely other economic logic may be of more impact than a 5 eurocent round up.

I found no article wishing the death of the current British one and two penny coins, but for a very useful service graciously proposed by the Metro Bank: after putting your bag of coins into the Magic Money Machine and accept to listen about their paid services, you depart with lighter banknotes.

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