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Melting Coins Now Illegal In the U.S.

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the facing-meltdown dept.

The Almighty Buck 778

A number of readers have noted the action by the U.S. Mint to outlaw the melting down or bulk export of coins. This has come about because the value of the precious metals contained in coins now exceeds their face value. The Mint would rather not have to replace pennies (at a cost of 1.73 cents per) or nickels (at 8.74 cents). The expectation is that Congress will mandate new compositions for some U.S. coins in 2007.

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If this keeps up... (5, Funny)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240092)

If this keeps up, .002 cents really will [slashdot.org] = $.002

(Sorry, but it had to be said...)

Re:If this keeps up... (5, Funny)

abe ferlman (205607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240170)

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that one...

Re:If this keeps up... (4, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240590)

.05 cents? Let us know when you've reached 20 and maybe somebody will send you a penny for your thoughts. :-D

Re:If this keeps up... (1)

MCraigW (110179) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240756)

I was (am) under the impression that it is illegal to destroy any kind of U.S. money, coin or currency, not to mention generally stupid. Although being able to double my investment by getting pennies and melting them is an incentive to do that. Pennies once were made of copper, and are now just copper clad, I wouldn't think that the metal in them is worth more than a penny.

Actually, I think we should just get rid of pennies altogether. When businesses start putting little dishes of coins on the counter for you to take one if you need it or leave the ones you get in change, then it is time to do away with those coins.

Only in Government...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240108)

Can you spend $.02 to make $.01

obscure simpsons quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240112)


let the good times roll

Paper? (4, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240122)

Can I continue to light my cigars with hundreds?

Re:Paper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240534)

I forgot to get my change out of a vending machine today and was about 20 feet away when I realized it. I had to think about it for about 15 seconds whether or not it was worth expending the energy to go back and retrieve the quarter from the change slot. I don't know if that's a testament to how worthless coins have become these days or how lazy many people have become. Probably a little of both. I don't even bother to pick up any coins on the ground unless it's a quarter or higher... anything less and I just imagine someone has glued it to the ground and is there with a video camera making a bloopers film to see how many dolts they can trick into trying to retrieve the penny.

Re:Paper? (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240746)

I'll give you a good deal on the C-Notes that I use for TP.

LK

"precious metals" in pennies? (5, Informative)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240146)

They stopped making em out of copper before the 50's (I forget exactly when its finals week XD)

they make them out of an electroplated nickel alloy now..

Dare i say it shouldn't just be oil we should be concerned about running out?

JUNK METAL coins are now worth more than their face value... I think this is a sign that asteroid mining could be feasible (the average nickel iron monster is worth several trillian.. not counting any incidental precious metals)

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (1)

pthisis (27352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240240)

I thought it was 1980 when they switched from copper to copper-clad zinc.

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (4, Informative)

pthisis (27352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240330)

Found it. 1982 they switched from 95% copper, 5% zinc to 97.6% zinc with 2.4% copper plating.

The previous composition (95% copper/5% zinc) went back to 1962. 1864-1962 it was 95% copper/5% zinc/tin alloy, except in 1943 they were zinc-plated steel.

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240568)

It was 1982 [usmint.gov] .

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (2, Informative)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240302)

They stopped making em out of copper before the 50's (I forget exactly when its finals week XD)

they make them out of an electroplated nickel alloy now..

No to both of those, as it says in the article. They stopped making pennies out of copper in 1981 and they're now made of copper coated zinc.

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (2, Funny)

Mindwarp (15738) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240304)

I think this is a sign that asteroid mining could be feasible (the average nickel iron monster is worth several trillian.. not counting any incidental precious metals)

It could be worth significantly more than that if you threaten to smash it into somewhere important!

One MILLION dollars! Muahahahaha! Muahahahahahaha!

*ahem*

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (2, Informative)

Gonarat (177568) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240306)

Pennies were 95% copper until they changed the composition to copper coated zinc in 1982 (I think the 1983 penny was the first year they actually made pennies with the new mix). Dimes, Quarters, Half-Dollars and (I think) Dollars were silver until 1964. That is why you don't normally see any dimes or quarters from before the '60s in your change.

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240520)

I could swear it was copper and nickel.. but then again they formulate the alloy to be cheap.. they could have easily changed the formula again.. oh well.. you got me on the pennies... my bad.

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (4, Informative)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240312)

They stopped making em out of copper before the 50's (I forget exactly when its finals week XD)

I'll give you some slack for finals week, but you are off by three decades. Pennies were made of 95% copper until the mid 80's. Dimes, quarters, half-dollars and full-sized full dollars (i.e. not sacagawea-sized) were made of silver until 1963.

(Yes, I am a coin collector)

they make them out of an electroplated nickel alloy now..

Zinc, actually, not nickel.

Dare i say it shouldn't just be oil we should be concerned about running out?

Well, not exactly a misplaced point, but we can recycle metals, hence the very problem the article was about. We can't recycle oil once it's been burnt.

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (2, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240460)

Yep.. youre the third person to point it out.. i'll put on my dunce cap and sit in the corner ; )

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240448)

That junk metal coins are now worth more than their face value is mostly the result of declining value of a dollar rather than the rarity of the metal contained within.

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (0, Troll)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240476)

They stopped making em out of copper before the 50's (I forget exactly when its finals week XD)

For values of "the 50's" which equal 1982.

they make them out of an electroplated nickel alloy now..

Only if your "nickel alloy" is "pure zinc".

Dare i say it shouldn't just be oil we should be concerned about running out?

Well I can't help but think we're in no danger of people pulling guesses out of their ass, pretending they have answers, and then:

JUNK METAL coins are now worth more than their face value... I think this is a sign that asteroid mining could be feasible

...coming to an unsupportable position based on incomplete understanding of the situation.

redundant posting? (0, Redundant)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240614)

i've been a good sport to this point.. but you are now the 4th person to correct me on this without bothering to read the others.. mods.. if you want to mod my original post down for quoting the wrong figures feel free.. but when posts get both redundant and unnecessarily vicious they need it too..

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240550)

the average nickel iron monster is worth several trillian

The only trillian I know of is hitchhiking her way through the galaxy and as far as I'm concerned she's worth way more than any nickel iron monster :)

Re:"precious metals" in pennies? (0, Redundant)

ToxikFetus (925966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240806)

If such moderation existed, this comment would be modded +5 Coin Collector Dorkbox.

Pennies were 95% copper until 1982, until that composition was replaced with a zinc alloy interior and copper plating (however, in 1943 the copper penny was replaced with a steel penny due to needs of the war effort). Not only has the composition of the penny changed to save costs, the actual size has changed as well. Compare the thickness of a 1960 penny with a 2000 penny. The latter-year pennies have been slimmed down considerably.

Nickels experienced a shift to a copper/silver/manganese alloy during WWII, but otherwise contained the same metallic makeup through history.

Dimes, quarters, and half-dollars were mostly silver through 1964. From 1965 onward, dimes and quarters were copper/nickel clad, except for some San Francisco 1976 bicentennial quarters, which contained 40% silver. Half-dollars continued to use a lesser amount of silver through 1970 (and 1976 bicentennial), after which they transitioned to the same makeup as the quarter. Some of the earlier Eisenhower dollers also contained a silver mixture.

Just get rid of pennies (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240152)

A worthless coin anyway.

Re:Just get rid of pennies (1)

pudro (983817) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240752)

It would be silly to only get rid of pennies. First off, we would then have to count by fives when dealing with money. Secondly, the nickel already costs more to make than it is worth. If we get rid of both then we can just cut off the second decimal place, and our lowest monetary unit will be tenths of a dollar. We can finally get rid of cents all together. Between cost of living increases, inflation, and the incredible loss in the value of the dollar in the world market, that second decimal place has pretty much lost all meaning anyway.

Intrinsic Value (4, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240154)

Dada21 will be along to spout something about precious metals, followed at 11 by a film.

Dada21 (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240284)

Haven't seen Dada21 recently on /., but I'd like to take issue with the summary, where it says "because the value of the precious metals contained in coins now exceeds their face value." Pennies and nickels DO NOT contain "precious metals". We're talking about zinc and nickel, usually classified as "base metals"

Re:Dada21 (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240782)

Dada21 was in rare form a couple days ago on a thread whose topic I currently forget. In the last several months, he's taken a slide into crazyland with his political and philosophical rants.

How much does it take to refine the metal? (4, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240164)

As much as I can understand why they do not want people melting down these coins, how much is the metal really worth in it's "raw" form unrefined?

My second question is how much would it cost to refine these metals to make them worth the most? Copper prices are sky high right now but a lump of melted pennies probably wouldn't be able to be sold as a "copper" since there are a number of other metals involved. Is this something that can really be profitable?

Re:How much does it take to refine the metal? (4, Informative)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240358)

As much as I can understand why they do not want people melting down these coins, how much is the metal really worth in it's "raw" form unrefined?

About 1.7 cents for a current penny, about 2.3cents for a pre-1986 penny, about 7.5 cents for a nickel.

Re:How much does it take to refine the metal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240400)

Zinc is the metal most used in U.S. coins these days, not copper.

Re:How much does it take to refine the metal? (1)

drpimp (900837) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240458)

Refining the actual metals (precious or not) aside, I was already under the impressions that destruction or US currency (which melting and refining would be classified under) is already illegal. So what is new here? Just the fact that the metals have reached some threshold? Someone please provide a real answer. Now that they are publicly announcing this, I would think there will be more people attempting it, fine/penalties or not.

Re:How much does it take to refine the metal? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240784)

So what is new here?

Nothing. They're still retarded laws.

Re:How much does it take to refine the metal? (2, Informative)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240684)

My second question is how much would it cost to refine these metals to make them worth the most? Copper prices are sky high right now but a lump of melted pennies probably wouldn't be able to be sold as a "copper" since there are a number of other metals involved. Is this something that can really be profitable?

That's a really great question. The deal is, at least for silver and gold coins - they are kept in their coin form but traded at or near melt value. There are several reasons for this. First, a US coin (silver dime/quarter/half/dollar), or penny or nickel, will have a known alloy. You _know_ that this object is, say, 90% silver, or 90% gold, or 95% copper. You don't have to have it assayed for purity to find out what it's got; the mint took care of that when it was made.

Another reason to leave them in coin form, is that people _do_ collect the coins at a premium to the melt value. I've been buying "junk silver" coins for years, going through them, picking out the good ones, and selling 'em on eBay. Once found a silver half in a junk silver buy, that I sold for $230 or so over there. If ya melt them into ingots, they're just not as interesting. Coins are also easier to count, store, handle, and so on. Bulk metals investing, sure, go buy that 100 ounce silver bar, but it's a BIG chunk of money to swing at one time in either direction - can't just sell a roll of silver quarters and get 100 bucks, or whatever. Coins are a convenient form factor to have them in, so melting costs don't enter into it - because they're rarely melted.

Now for copper, which is a base metal and used widely in industry, melting would probably happen more often. The spot market would then reflect this, and when copper gets to the point where it's worth melting, this regulation may be gone and a spot market will develop with prices to reflect processing costs. It all evens out in the end. In the meantime, 20% or so of the circulating pennies in this part of the country are the 95% copper type. If only there were some way to distinguish them automatically using an electromagnetic signature or something (ahem), one could sort them at a rate of 5 coins per second, store the copper, turn in the zinc ones, and play the numbers. The ban on melting screws that up a bit...

get rid of pennies altogether? (5, Insightful)

jimfinity (849860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240188)

It might just be more feasible to get rid of pennies altogether.

here is an article i have found to be particularly illuminating.

http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a981009a.html [straightdope.com]

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240276)

In Europe not all countries use the Bronze colored Euro Cent coins. Holland for example doesn't. In Germany where I live, the bronze coins are pretty much useless - I give mine to charity.

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240482)

I've been living in Germany for the past 18 months and I still have to look at the coin to determine the difference between 2 cent and 5 cent coins....and the one cent are small compared to American coins.

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (1)

pthisis (27352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240516)

In the US, pennies are pretty useless too. The sooner they're officially eliminated the better. There are a couple of ways that the market's phasing them out already:

Many stores have a little dish next to the register--if you get pennies in your change, you drop them in the dish; if you need pennies to pay you take them from the dish. So if, say, something costs $1.02 you pay a dollar and grab 2 pennies from the dish. If it costs $.97 you pay a dollar and drop your 3 pennies change into the dish.

Even better, a lot of places I shop now just ignore the pennies. If they ring something up and it's $1.76 they'll say "a buck seventy-five please". If I know a place is like that I'll do the same if it's $1.74.

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (1)

emarkp (67813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240694)

I think a bigger indicator is that the "leave-a-penny-take-a-penny" dishes are being manufactured and sold with the intent printed on them. Which means businesses are paying money to not deal with money.

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240658)

Ehm, The Netherlands (not Holland, which is a province of The Netherlands) had the bronze-coloured eurocent coins in circulation [wikipedia.org] . I had some in my wallet already. As probably pretty much everywhere in Europe, you just don't see them very often. The lowest coin I see in regular usage is the 5 cent coin, and I only see it very rarely.

The only country I know of that didn't release the smaller 1 and 2 cent coins is Finland [wikipedia.org] . Those coins only were minted for collectors. That's it.

So, while The Netherlands don't issue the smaller 1 and 2 cent anymore, they did exist in circulation. Oh, and in *all* countries of Europe, they must accept the 1 and 2 cent coins from other countries, even in Finland and The Netherlands. (I bet most shop owners don't know it and will bitch, but well, that's life)

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (1)

ubergenius (918325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240470)

Except it seems to me that they lose MORE on nickels than pennies... Why not just ditch coins altogether? The answer is the same reason why we won't be completed cash-less for a long, long time: They're too useful. It's fast, convenient, and accepted everywhere, and are tangible (their value can't be lost because of a computer crash). Coins and bills aren't going anywhere for a while. Someday, it will probably happen, as technology becomes more reliable and internet truly ubiquitous, but for now, it won't happen.

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240654)

Their value can't be lost by a computer crash. They CAN be lost by a hole in the pocket, though.

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (4, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240626)

Why stop there?

Why not get rid of nickles and dimes as well?

And why we're at it, let's get rid of all paper currency, replacing it with coins in the following denominations: $1, $5, $20, $50. Then we can stop printing money to replace all those torn dollar bills.

Think of the affect on crime. While you could carry a couple thousand dollars on your person if you really needed to, the drug kingpin who wants payment of a million in cash is going to need a forklift, not a suitcase. Similar issues of phyiscal inconvenience will deter counterfeiting.

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (1)

Programmer_Errant (1004370) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240688)

They can't. The American public is so stupid that they think they're being cheated if prices got rounded to the nearest 5 cents. Yes, stores could price everthing at 3 or 8 cents on the last digit but unless you buy everything a single item a time, things will work out. But lets say for the sake of argument that stores always got 5 cents extra. That just works out as part of the profit margin and unless you think there is no such thing as competition, stores will adjust their prices to compensate. In fact they should pass a law that stores have to truncate instead of rounding off. Stores will raise prices to compensate and stupid consumers will think they're getting a deal anyway. Win, win!

Re:get rid of pennies altogether? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240692)

This has been my thinking for a long time. Honestly, I generally feel like it's not worth my time and attention to keep track of pennies, and not worth the feel of extra things in my pockets. Whenever I have pennies, I get rid of them as soon as I can, and have even just dropped them on the street before in the hopes that, if anyone is desperate enough for pennies that they want to pick them up, they can have it.

I might be an extreme case, but I feel like nickels are bordering on being considered "more trouble than they're worth," too. The only coins that I specifically hold on to are quarters, and that's for vending machines, laundry machines, parking meters, etc. So if pennies disappeared, I'd be happy. The only time I like having nickels is when I have two times and want to exchange them for a quarter. For the most part, if all my transactions got rounded to the nearest quarter, I'd be fine with that.

Composition. (1)

Fayn (1003629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240194)

lemme just grab some tin foil out of the kitchen....... Seriously though, I wonder what they will use for the new coins....

Re:Composition. (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240230)

lemme just grab some tin foil out of the kitchen....... Seriously though, I wonder what they will use for the new coins....

Plastic?

I mean, it's not like we're running short on oil.

Re:Composition. (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240430)

Seriously though, I wonder what they will use for the new coins....

Some countries plug their smaller-value coins to reduce the amount of metal in their construction.

Devalue (4, Interesting)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240198)

I wonder how much of this is because of "increasing value of precious metals" and how much is "The devaluing of the American dollar" (I recognize that from the perspective of Americans this would be the same thing); if it is based on the dollars value, why wouldn't you attempt to correct the problem with the dollar (by not running a 1/2 trillion dollar deficit) rather than finding cheaper materials?

Re:Devalue (4, Insightful)

Skreems (598317) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240280)

Ah, but that assumes that the government actually cares about the deficit, and would rather pay down the national debt than blow untold billions of dollars on pork barrel spending for their own states.

Re:Devalue (0)

BytePusher (209961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240570)

It also assumes that devaluing the American dollar is always bad thing. For Americans who have saved, it is trouble, but it increases exports at the same time providing jobs. One would imagine that eventually any particular product would essentially be the same price anywhere in the world. So essentially, all currency should come to be equal value. For the American dollar apparently it means it must be devalued a bit.

Re:Devalue (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240282)

Well, ideally they'd do both: combat inflation while saving money.

But this is government we're talking about, when has a government actually done either?

Re:Devalue (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240574)

Since the 90's the Canadian Federal (and Alberta Provincial) Governments have run balanced budgets and paid down the debt; the Alberta government ran balanced budgets when oil was below $20 per barrel and is currently "debt free" (oil royalties make up a large portion of Alberta's government income).

Saving money is another problem though ...

Re:Devalue (1)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240508)

Yes, reshaping the federal budget and undoing 50 years of deficit spending would be much easy than changing the composition of a few coins...

Re:Devalue (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240704)

If there has been deficit spending for 50 years how did the US go from a deficit to a surplus during the 90s? Note that I have ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST in a discussion of whether it was Clinton's policies, Clinton reaping the rewards of Regan's policies or just a general uptick in the world economy, I am just curious how a half-century of adding -ve numbers together produced a +ve total in the middle. Is the US deficit/surplus total stored in a 43b signed counter or something?

Re:Devalue (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240536)

why wouldn't you attempt to correct the problem with the dollar (by not running a 1/2 trillion dollar deficit) rather than finding cheaper materials?


Couple of things:

- The "devaluation" of the dollar that would impact the price of metal has more to do with inflation than its international trade value. The latter is mostly artificial, and can be raised and lowered to keep an economy stable in the world market.

- Deflation is a horrible thing to do to an economy. Most of today's economies depend on inflation to maintain long-term spending power. From the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]
A small amount of inflation is often viewed as having a positive effect on the economy. One reason for this is that it is difficult to renegotiate some prices, and particularly wages, downwards, so that with generally increasing prices it is easier for relative prices to adjust. Many prices are "sticky downward" and tend to creep upward, so that efforts to attain a zero inflation rate (a constant price level) punish other sectors with falling prices, profits, and employment. Efforts to attain complete price stability can also lead to deflation, which is generally viewed as a negative outcome because of the significant downward adjustments in wages and output that are associated with it.


As a result, there's no good way to "adjust the value of the dollar" to make the metals more affordable. We simply must accept that money grows ever weaker as time goes on. The logical maneuver is to eliminate the penny at some point, though many countries have simply reissued new currency with a high new to old exchange rate.

My question (4, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240204)

Since they only penalty is a fine, can you pay the fine out of the money you made selling the metal from the melted down coins?

Re:My question (2, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240268)

Handing them the actual lumps of melted metal would apparently be worth more.

Re:My question (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240512)

Since they only penalty is a fine,

Sorry, that's wrong. It's a fine and/or 5 years.

WTF? (1)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240214)

Just another regulation. Why doesn't the government just make them worth less by changing the composition. If they can't, they should discontinue making them. I don't actually use pennies, I buy everything with a credit/debit card. That's my .73 they're wasting, and my $1,000,000 to enforce this law.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240390)

"Why doesn't the government just make them worth less by changing the composition."

RTFA (at least the summary): "The expectation is that Congress will mandate new compositions for some U.S. coins in 2007". They can't change the composition of the coins that are already in circulation (unless you know a way of doing that?), they can only replace them, and that takes time. This regulation is supposed to stop people melting existing coins down before they are replaced.

Re:WTF? (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240504)

I don't actually use pennies, I buy everything with a credit/debit card.

Bully for you. It's your privacy and your money. Sometimes, I prefer to be anonymous. Also, you can't buy a lot of things with credit cards. No street vendors. Many small stores and diners discourage purchases under $10 or $15 with a credit card since the fees get expensive. You don't want to use the card at bars either, since if you keep a tab on a card open, there are mooching asshats who will think that it's a good idea to drink on it.

-b.

So what? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240218)

It's also illegal to mutilate or destroy paper money. This is not much of an issue. I didn't know when slashdot became concerned over the money supply.

Re:So what? (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240296)

It's also illegal to mutilate or destroy paper money.

Incorrect in the US. It's illegal to do so with fraudulent or malicious intent. Ripping someone else's $100 bill to bits is illegal. As is ripping a bill in half in such a way so both halves look like more than 50% and trying to pass the two halves of the bill as valid currency.

-b.

ripping other peoples money (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240378)

seems like it MUST be malicious....

Possibly do as other countries did... (4, Interesting)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240234)

And deprecate the coins equivalent to the penny and have the lowest monetary unit be 5 cents (it's obviously possible to make a coin for under 5 cents since a penny costs 1.75 cents to make). Also, encourage the use of $1 coins and create $2, $5 and possibly $10 coins as well (keep the $10 bills at least though). That way, it'll be easier for automated machines to give change. When I go to NJ from NYC, there's few things more annoying than the river of $1 coins that the ticket machine vomits as change when you put a $20 in to buy a $10.25 ticket!

And for folks who'll ask, replacing cash with electronic transactions isn't the answer. I for one like the anonymity of cash and the fact that I'm carrying a physical object of known value that can handle some pretty heavy abuse before becoming worthless.

-b.

Or the fed can contract the money supply... (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240410)

Thereby triggering deflation. While it's generally not good for the economy, it would solve the problem right? They could also consider alternative materials to metal.. a specifically engineered glass impregnated with various polymers to increase it's give and prevent shattering perhaps?

Re:Or the fed can contract the money supply... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240710)

Thereby triggering deflation. While it's generally not good for the economy, it would solve the problem right?

I'm not sure that eliminating the penny would trigger deflation. We're not playing with the *total* amount of currency in circulation. If anything, having the 5c coin as the minimum unit in circulation would ultimately serve to *decrease* its value. If anything like this is done, BTW, it would have to be over a number of years. Don't actively withdraw the pennies from circulation, just reduce the number of new pennies minted to zero over a number of years.

a specifically engineered glass impregnated with various polymers to increase it's give and prevent shattering perhaps?

That's actually a cool idea. You could make some really interesting looking coins that way. Maybe even make it a composite with dark fibers embedded so you could see a distinctive pattern while looking through a coin.

-b.

How can they do this? (4, Insightful)

stry_cat (558859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240250)

How can the US Mint make something illegal, only Congress has the power to pass laws. Someone please explain.

Re:How can they do this? (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240480)

only Congress has the power to pass laws.

Tell that to the FAA.

Re:How can they do this? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240672)

How can the US Mint make something illegal

I don't believe that they can, except in their own minds. I don't remember voting for my mintmessperson last November.

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240254)

The expectation is that Congress will mandate new compositions for some U.S. coins in 2007.

IOW, the coinery composed a forbiddance against decomposing, but the newly composed representatives forbodes a coining of a new composition.

Bah, I'm too busy anyways (4, Funny)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240258)

I'm too busy straining the gold out of seawater and reclaiming the platinum out of old catalytic converters to mess with melting down pennies and nickels...

Coming soon from the US mint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240262)

Wiping your ass with worthless US currency now illegal.

Keep those presses rolling, boys!

Pennies (3, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240264)

Perhaps it's time to start seriously thinking about withdrawing the penny from circulation. You can't buy anything with a penny anymore. You only really use them for two reasons:

1. Stores like the $X.99 price point, because it subtly makes people think they're paying $X rather than $X+1. $X.95 is also popular, and could work with only nickels.
2. Sales tax is based on percentage, so even if you have a round price like $1.00, you may end up with something like $1.07.

OK, 3 reasons if you're paying for gas with cash. But note that gas stations already advertise prices to the thousandth of a dollar -- as far as I know, the US has never actually minted a mil -- and they already get rounded up to the nearest penny. I'm sure gas stations would be quite happy to round to the nearest nickel instead.

Of course, given how many transactions are electronic these days, withdrawing the penny wouldn't necessarily alter credit or debit transactions.

Re:Pennies (1)

ubergenius (918325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240610)

While I posted above that we won't get rid of coins because coins and cash are much too useful, I do agree that the penny should go away.

Do AWAY with pennies and nickles (3, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240270)

Take them out of circulation, and then the Mint can do whatever they like with the alloys. Or if they're smart, they'll use alloys for a $1 coin and stop making the $1 bill.

Re:Do AWAY with pennies and nickles (2, Informative)

petabyte (238821) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240496)

Well, the Mint doesn't do anything with $1 bill or any bill for that matter. That would be the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The Mint does the coins and Bureau of Engraving and Printing does the paper.

That said, I'm pretty much supportive of nuking the penny, making $1 a coin, and creating a $5 coin (but keeping the bill). But thats just my $2.

Please no! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240750)

$1 and $2 coins are the reason I moved from Canada to the US. If pieces of metal bigger than a quarter become mainstream currency in the US I'll have to find another country.

Re:Do AWAY with pennies and nickles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240780)

But what will the strippers do? Think of the strippers!

£1/£2? (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240292)

How much is the gold in a one pound, or two pound coin worth? Enough to make it worthwhile?

Two problems (1)

tie_guy_matt (176397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240314)

Part of the problem is that these metals are becoming more valuable, but the other half of the problem is that our money is now worth less than the metal it is printed on! Maybe if the borrow and spend president we have now would stop spending like a drunken sailor -- and stop borrowing billions of dollars from China and other fun governments, our money would not devalue quite as fast. Part of the reason why oil is so expensive is because you are buying it with US dollars that aren't worth as much as they used to be. When the Euro was introduced it was set to be equal to 1 US dollar -- look at the price now! If we don't get this debt in hand things are going to get a lot worse! And don't think you are going to get off easy just because you aren't an American the economies of the world are more closely tied than ever. Besides there is a chance that your market could get flooded with cheap American exports (at least we can hope that will happen.)

Re:Two problems - Not Fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240438)

Not Fair!!!!

Drunken sailors sepnd ther OWN money.

Pennies on a Railroad Track, Anyone? (1, Flamebait)

Ranger (1783) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240322)

I'll bet there's nothing keeping you from placing all those pennies on railroad tracks and having a train stomp those suckers flat.

And stop linking New York Times, you [expletive deleted]s. I don't want to fucking register nor do I want to have to take the goddamn time to go to bugmenot.com [bugmenot.com] to get a NY Times uid & pwd. Here's some links that don't require registration to read: here [usatoday.com] , here [denverpost.com] , here [cnn.com] , and here [nwsource.com] . Anyway, now that they said don't melt those coins, guess what they are going to do? Melt those coins.

I know they aren't made of copper, but (1)

aLii_h (1037416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240362)

anyone read this the other day?
"Charles Bull recently woke to the overwhelming smell of gas in his house. It was a neighbour who noticed that the copper pipes that supplied the house with gas had been removed." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6207410.stm [bbc.co.uk]

i think the moral is "don't use copper if you can help it"

under what authority? (4, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240364)

Under what authority can the US Mint create new law? The US Mint, the Secret Service and the Treasury are all in the enforcement, not the legislative branch.

Some AC said it was illegal to mutilate or deface paper money. Uh, no, it's not. It's also not illegal to cut up a US coin in some artistic fashion and sell it for a higher amount; this is done all the time. In terms of defacement, you can't stick a picture of Kennedy on a quarter and try to redeem it as a half-dollar, and the same goes for gluing a "20" on the corner of a one-dollar bill. That's simple fraud, in this case called counterfeiting.

Re:under what authority? (5, Informative)

qweqazfoo (765286) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240764)

Ever heard of Administrative Law? Most of the laws in this country are made by federal and state executive agencies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_Law [wikipedia.org]

And to blow your mind even further, the judicial branch makes law too! It's called common law. The federal judiciary and 49 of the 50 states operate under common law. If you don't like it, you have to move to Louisiana or France.

Reverse split... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240402)

They could always do a reverse split on the dollar 1:10... Then everybody would convert their existing dollars for New Dimes, and pennies would more.

Other than being completely impractical, it's the perfect plan!

Best solution (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240426)

I know it would be incredibly difficult to do in these modern days, but I'd love to see dollars revalued as 10 "new dollars" (or even more... 50/1, 100/1?). Inflation has devalued money so that anything under a dollar has so little value. The original dollar back in 1790 was a pretty good chunk of change. Even back in the early 20th century, a dollar was worth 10 or 20 dollars today. What's it even mean to be a millionaire these days? It's not a trivial amount of money, but you could barely live off it.

Follow Japan's lead (1)

^_^x (178540) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240428)

I guess if this becomes a long-term problem, they could always do like Japan (and probably other countries...) and start minting pennies out of aluminum, or some other cheap, affordable metal.

(It still takes a lot of energy to produce, so why did aluminum get so cheap anyway?)

It was going to be said eventually... (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240452)

I for one welcome our coin-purse overlords...

So, let me summarize... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240456)

Copper Penny: $0.01

Copper Washer: $0.10

Making a copper washer by poking a hole in a copper penny: $10,000.00 fine

That about it?

Re:So, let me summarize... (2, Funny)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240602)

Realizing pennies aren't (any more) made out of copper: Priceless

For everything else, life takes VISA(tm)

pennywise... (0, Offtopic)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240544)

pound-foolish?

I wonder when digital pennies will be worth less and cost more than a byte in a file... At that point, how do we "implicitly value" the dollar, or any currency? Money only has worth because law and people writing the law say so. If it is counterfeited, and spends, and is taken out of circulation, in small amounts and limited instances, how will an economy collapse? Even the US is the biggest, authorized counterfeiter of cash, producing money that often NEVER goes into REAL circulation. Remember the multiple billions of dollars in Iraq alone, in the truck convoy? The US prints and distributes cash to dozens, if not many, many dozens of countries, much of which then sits in a vault, or is loaned to people who don't need it.

Money only has value when your neighbor possesses more of it or more toys than you and throws it away faster than you can earn it. Some people are talented and can make money off of just about ANYthing, while others have lesser imagination and no access to resources (philanthropic, banking, lending, grant-issuing, etc.) and give up on trying to sell or introduce or even patent or copyright something that could be their ticket out of a hell-hole. (For example, I'm sitting on ideas either in my head or on paper, and I cannot do much with them out of fear or disappointment that all along the way, someone or some firm will try to nickel and dime me to death, reassign to themselves my IP the creation of which they had not a DAMN thing to do with, and so on. But, trust has to be found, earned or made at SOME point, so like all other fools or fortunate, I have to take the plunge at some point.... )

Now THAT' when money/currency has value: Those who DESPERATELY need it, but have no credentials, have bad credit, are out of work, or are somehow not in a special category just won't have any without stealing it, begging for it, prostituting themselves, or resisting taxes to hoard every last penny.

Would be nice if every 5 years or so, those who are DEEEEEEPLY indebted are just clean-slated. After all, if they can't find a job (meaningful, gainful, non-demeaning) and the creditor routinely writes off debt to clear the books, the debtor is still stuck with the 7-year (or longer, considering how many credit companies buy up each other or sell files to each other, meaning, effectively you can still be "punished" long after 7 years have passed...) stigma, but the creditor gave up.

Considering how many multiple BILLIONS the USA (read: the power wielding minority of ultra wealthy, their lobbyists, and the corrupt politicians in on the game) prosecuting a war (read: persecuting those who don't "get with the program") but can't find a way to grant amnesty or some sort of significant debt reduction to tens if not hundreds of thousands of debt-ridden students, mortgage holders imminently in jeopardy of homelessness....

I wonder how many times over the major cities' slums could have been torn down and rebuilt to modern living standards.

Penny-wise and pound-foolish...

Inflation (1)

zavyman (32136) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240548)

The mint is apparently upset that the older pennies have not been devalued like the rest of US currency due to inflation. They would prefer that holders of pennies be forced to accept devalued currency. If you can't melt the coins, then they will happily take them from you at below market value to melt at a profit.

Way to fix the problem, guys... (0, Redundant)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240630)

Pass a law that makes it illegal to do something that makes sense.

Why not really fix the problem by:

  • finding a way to make the coins more cheaply, or
  • by upping the face value upon them, or (our dimes go to 11)
  • by re-valuating the existing values (why not make 10 bigger?)

New design revealed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17240644)

Warning: large image [scprt.com]

Why? (1)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17240788)

Why bother? Perhaps my economics is shaky, but wouldn't reducing the amount of currency in circulation increase its value? Seems like a self-correcting system to me.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
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