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John Oliver Just Made Official What Most Of Us Already Knew: Pennies Are Bullshit

By Emily Chambers | Last Week Tonight | November 23, 2015 |


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If you’re either a budding economist or super high, the concept of money is really interesting. Mainly because it’s completely made up. Or maybe “made up” isn’t the right term so much as “misapplied.” Money doesn’t really measure value, it’s measures production. You trade your production value for a paycheck which you then give to other people in exchange for the things that their production has rendered. Each monetary transaction is then actually a time question. How many hours are you willing to give up to not have to clean your own apartment? Or to not have to make yourself dinner? Or to get a single goddamn hour to yourself so just pay the babysitter to take the kids to the movies, ok?

And while out spending choices might vary, the thing we can almost all agree on is that pennies are worthless bullshit.

Actually, that’s an unfair characterization. Pennies have negative worth. Each $.01 coin costs $.017 to produce. We could also theoretically factor in the cost of wasted production time it takes you to throw a penny away after receiving one, but that gets a little more complicated. But make no mistake, people are throwing pennies away. People know that pennies are essentially garbage at this point, and treat them as such. Every time someone hands you a penny, you should hear Mitch Hedberg’s voice in your head.

So why do we keep around a valueless coin that costs more to make than it’s worth? Because of the grand tradition of special interests and lobbying of course. Also people’s hard-ons for putting presidents they like on shit. You could of course take some of the actions that anti- penny lobbying groups have suggested. Which would require caring enough about pennies to want to see them gone. And that’s impossible as pennies are total bullshit.


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