Penny Protest Information

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Protest Time and Date

February 12 2009, starts at 9 AM

List of participating businesses:

Anderson’s Marketplace, Barber Shop and Barbershop Too, Cheese Shop, Club Car Cafe, Concord Flower Shop, Concord Prime and Fish, Concord Outfitters, Concord Shop, Concord Teacakes, Country Kitchen, Frameables, Helen’s, Mane Escape, Maximum Image by Sue, Millbrook Farm, New London Style Pizza, Phillips Fine Paint, Reflections, Sally Anne’s, Thoreauly Antiques, Toy Shop of Concord, Twin Seafood, Vintages, Walden Italian Kitchen, West Concord Liquor Store, West Concord Supermarket

One-line Executive Order we are seeking:

“Businesses which round down cash transactions may refuse to handle pennies.”

Major objections:

Businesses will raise prices so that they really round up.  Answer:  You can only round down.  If businesses thought they could raise prices, they would.  Not handling pennies reduces costs too, so rounding down is profitable.

People love pennies.  Answer:  if that were correct they would hold onto them.  Instead we mint them at 3000 times the rate of population growth.  Also, we are not outlawing them.  If people like them, we are wrong…but the free market will decide, rather than a poll commissioned by Coinstar.

Mantra:

“Tear down this mint, Mr. President.”

Concord Teacakes Plaque:

To the rude lobbyists who corrupted our good/Congressmen to support their zinc/here the embattled merchants stood/and said “we think your pennies stink.”

300-word summary (may be quoted from but to be reproduced you need to contact the San Francisco Chronicle)

Pennies from Hell

For years economists have unanimously advocated retiring the penny.  They cost the government more than a penny to make and they cost retailers more than a penny to handle.  Zinc mining pollutes rivers, and the majority of zinc is imported anyway.  As for consumers, consider:  Pennies are minted at almost 3000 times the rate at which the population grows.  Why add so many?  Because after we acquire them in change, they end up inside sofas, coffee cans, and the occasional toddler.   The bottom line:  The government pays to import litter and charges us to dispose of it. 

Unfortunately, the zinc lobby has blocked all anti-penny legislation to date, arguing that “rounding up,” (which already takes place in practice because we throw out our change) will harm consumers.

The good news is that the zinc lobby’s legislative influence can be avoided by issuing a simple Executive Order from the President or Treasury Department instead:  “Businesses which round down cash transactions may refuse to handle pennies. “  No legislation is needed because compliance is voluntary, and the Treasury Department itself may make exceptions to the pennies-as-legal-tender rule, such as it does for toll booths.

This Executive Order requires no one to do anything.  It lets consumers and retailers decide whether they prefer to save money or to handle pennies.  Not a hard choice, but it is a choice, one which in practice will make the penny a relic within months, while still respecting the rights of consumers and businesses which like them.

True, this problem, though easily solved, is trivial in this recession.  But the penny is a visible, inconvenient, constant reminder of government waste and the influence of special interests.  If Obama can’t make easy, voluntary, money-saving decisions like this one, how can we trust him to handle the larger problems?  Signing this Executive Order would not just save consumers and businesses money, it would increase confidence that this new administration will also be able to creatively address our much greater and more pressing economic needs.