Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Farewell to the Canadian penny?


See a penny, pick it up
And all the day, you’ll have good luck

I was taught that little ditty as a child.  Now it appears that the lowly penny is on its way out in Canada, a victim of inflation. Yesterday, the Senate’s finance committee recommended abolishing the one-cent piece. Soon it may no longer be legal tender in this country.

The price of producing a penny today is 1.5 cents. That means it costs the government a penny and a half to produce and distribute a coin that is only worth once cent. According to the Senate committee’s report, the penny has shed 95 per cent of its purchasing power since its introduction back in 1904. Economically, it makes no sense to have a one cent coin.

Many people regard pennies as annoyances. They accumulate in wallets, purses and pockets. Vending machines don’t accept them. They are spurned and rejected everywhere. They end up in drawers and under sofa cushions. In the words of Senator Richard R. Neufield, deputy chairman of the of the Upper House’s finance committee, “The fact is, the penny is not much use anymore.” Logically, it makes no sense to have a one cent coin.

So why wasn’t the penny abandoned years ago? I suspect it has something to do with the folklore associated with the copper coin. Reason and common sense say that the penny is just a nuisance. It’s not needed anymore and it is not worth the expense to taxpayers. And yet, there is something mystical and magical about pennies. It is reflected in our language.

We talk of “pennies from heaven” and “a penny for your thoughts.” We constantly use expressions such as “penny-pinching” and “penny wise, pound foolish.” When we feel low, we say that we “feel like two cents.” We wear penny loafers and we have to “get our two cents in.” However, I strongly doubt that any of this is enough to save the penny. After all, we still “dial a number” even though phones haven’t had dials for many years. Let’s face it. We are never going to say “a nickel for your thoughts.”

Oh yes, there is one other factor that is certain to hasten the penny’s demise. Businesses will be able to round off the prices of their goods. That means that prices will increase, albeit slightly. Still, all those pennies add up.



Hey, the Leafs won another game last night. They defeated the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place in Edmonton by a score of 4-1. Now they head for Cowtown to play the Calgary Flames on Thursday. Their western road trip continues.


I see that pitcher Cliff Lee has agreed to a $100 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. I’m surprised. I really thought the Yankees were going to land the 32-year-old left-hander. Now that the Phillies have him, their starting rotation seems quite formidable. Lee will join Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

I’m pleased that the Yankees weren’t able to add Cliff Lee to their roster. The Jays won’t have to worry about the Yanks as much - at least for now.  It’s going to be difficult enough to compete with the Boston Red Sox now that they have Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

- Joanne

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