Essays

Is the Penny Weighing Down Our Pockets and Our Economy?

Last year, the U.S. mint produced more than 9 billion pennies. According to CBS (Ivanova, 2017), “Last year, each penny cost 1.5 cents to make — about 50 percent more than its face value — and all the pennies the U.S. Mint issued last year cost it $46 million. It’s the 11th year the cost to make a penny has been higher than its face value.”

UNIT COST OF PRODUCING AND DISTRIBUTING COINS BY DENOMINATION

Retrieved from https://www.usmint.gov/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2017-annual-report.pdf

When looking at the United States Mint 2017 Annual Report (2017), it clearly shows that pennies cost more to make than they are worth. To me, that is ridiculous enough in and of itself. But when you also look at the fact that the US mint is a branch of the treasury department which is funded by the government which is funded by taxpayer dollars, this is a completely obvious waste of taxpayer money that could be going to fund infrastructure, schools, and government programs.20180831_153106

Polls from Americans for Common Cents, a pro-penny group funded by the zinc and copper industry—that benefits from the production of pennies—say that “Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) were concerned that without the penny merchants might use price rounding to raise prices.”

And, as a matter of fact, Chipotle started rounding the receipts of customers to the nearest nickel around 2012. They chose to round to save time at the register, so the cashiers did not have to spend time handling pennies when helping customers with cash transactions. This caused outrage among restaurant goers—who preferred to keep their pennies—when a New Jersey man noticed that his receipts were being rounded up. Later that year, the chain switched their practices to only round down to the nickel, putting pennies in consumers’ pockets, because of the public affront regarding their time-saving practices. For Chipotle, this is a still a positive outcome. Why, you ask? Well, in their high traffic locations across the country it is in the chain’s interest to save time handling cash transactions by eliminating the use of pennies, so as not to lose potential customers due to long lines. So, when confronted with the evidence, it seems that this concept can apply to most businesses and become a win-win scenario for both companies and consumers (Woodruff, 2012; Sanburn, 2012).

Another claim frequently voiced by Americans for Common Cents is that donations to charitable organizations will drop if the penny ceases to be produced. However, pennies won’t stop being used overnight. They would be gradually taken out of circulation, and since stores will most likely no longer be required to accept them, customers will have more reason to donate their pennies to charities. In countries that stopped making their lowest valued coins, there have been no reports from charities suggesting that donations have decreased as a result. Indeed, at least 17 countries have eliminated their lowest denomination coins without any obvious negative financial repercussions for citizens or the government (Wikipedia contributors, 2018; Livingston, n.d.; Coin Collecting Enterprises, n.d.).

When, in a 2013 Google Hangout discussion, Youtuber and author John Green asked President Obama (two of my all-time favorite people) why the penny has not been retired despite its inefficiency, he replied, “It’s one of those things where I think people get attached emotionally to the way things have been. We remember our piggy banks and counting out all the pennies and then taking them and getting a dollar bill or a couple of dollars.” He went on to say, “This is not going to be a huge savings for the government, but any time we’re spending more money on something that people don’t actually use, that’s an example of something we should probably change.” I feel that this is a good example of why there has been next to no reform regarding the penny, although it has become very inefficient in the past decades. It’s hard to get reform on something that would only save the government 10 million dollars per year in wasted money (Kellogg, 2013). Of course, to people like you and me, that’s a lot of money, but for the Government and Treasury Department, it is hard to justify how much energy would have to be put into the discontinuation of the penny.

While researching information on the pros and cons of pennies and whether we should keep them, I kept coming across two organizations that have strong views about the production of the penny. Retire the Penny, a group dedicated to taking steps toward and retiring the penny, and Americans for Common Cents, a group dedicated to keeping it. Personally, although I agree more with Retire the Penny, I found neither of the websites extremely compelling. It felt to me like each of them was just presenting reasons the other side was incorrect, instead of actually giving explanations for their own opinions and what steps they were going to take to further their causes. This was a bit disappointing, but I see now why the issue hasn’t really come to the national stage—no one thinks to change anything they didn’t even realize was a problem.

When I looked closer at the cost to produce and distribute pennies, it seemed clear to me that the negatives of producing pennies outweigh the benefits for the economy.

 

References

Americans for Common Cents. More than 2/3 of Americans want to keep the penny. Retrieved from http://www.pennies.org/index.php/penny-polling

Coin Collecting Enterprises. Retrieved from http://coincollectingenterprises.com/information/coin-eliminated-by-country/

Ivanova, I. (2017, March 6). It cost 1.5 cents to make a penny last year. Moneywatch. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/it-cost-1-5-cents-to-make-a-penny-last-year/

Kellogg, C. (2013, February 15). See YA author John Green hang out with President Obama. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/15/entertainment/la-et-jc-see-author-john-green-hangout-with-president-obama-20130215

Livingston, A. Should we get rid of the penny?—8 reasons to keep it vs. eliminate it. Retrieved from https://www.moneycrashers.com/get-rid-penny-reasons/

Retire the Penny. Retrieved from http://www.retirethepenny.org/

Sanburn, J. (2012, August 30). Chipotle’s fuzzy math: Why they stopped rounding customers out of change. TIME. Retrieved from http://business.time.com/2012/08/30/chipotles-fuzzy-math-why-they-stopped-rounding-customers-out-of-change/

Sommer, J. (2012, April 7). Penny wise, or 2.4 cents foolish? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/your-money/canada-drops-the-penny-but-will-the-us.html

United States Mint 2017 Annual Report. (2017). Unit cost of producing and distributing coins by denomination. Retrieved from https://www.usmint.gov/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2017-annual-report.pdf

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, June 15). Withdrawal of low-denomination coins. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:14, August 31, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Withdrawal_of_low-denomination_coins&oldid=846015243

Woodruff, M. (2012, August 30). Chipotle is stopping its secret practice of rounding up prices. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/chipotle-will-not-be-secretly-adding-pennies-to-customers-orders-anymore-2012-8

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Miscellaneous

Basketweave Crochet Dishcloths

“I’m so excited to do the dishes!”—I’m pretty sure no one has uttered those words in the history of ever (except me, just now, as I am writing this). However, I think these crochet basket-weave dishcloths might just make the dreaded chore a bit more pleasant. You IMG_20180731_1527555_rewindonly need a little experience with crochet and basic stitches to be able to whip out a half dozen of ‘em for all your soapy-hot-water-and-dirty-dishes-needs. Also, since the pattern is mostly composed of a double crochet variation, they can be made relatively quickly. My mom is the primary dish washer in our house, and she loves how sturdy these dishcloths are. At the bottom of this post is a video tutorial on my youtube. Well, without further ado, here is my pattern:

You will need:

  • Worsted weight cotton yarn
  • US size F-5 (3.75 MM) crochet hook

Chain 29

Double crochet (DC) in third chain from hook, and then 26 more times to complete the row. Chain 2, turn.

Now the basket-weave pattern begins:

Row 1:

Back post double crochet (BPDC) 3 times (the 2 chains make the first stitch), *front post double crochet (FPDC) 4 times, back post double crochet (BPDC) 4 times* continue alternating until you finish the row. Chain 2, turn.

Row 2:

FPDC 3 times (again, the 2 chains make the first stitch), BPDC 4 times, continue alternating until you finish the row. Chain 2, turn.

Row 3:

Repeat row 2.

Row 4:

Repeat row 1.

You now can see the squares in the pattern. Each line of squares is made of two rows – FP the FPs and BP the BPs. To create a new line of squares, reverse the pattern

I repeated this until I had a square – 7 squares wide and 7 squares long. Since these are made of cotton they will shrink in the wash, so make sure you make yours big enough. (here is the link to a basket-weave tutorial that I found helpful)

Happy crocheting!

Books

My Current TBR List

Hi again! Today I’m going to share some of the books on my TBR (To Be Read) List; bear with me, because there are so many books shouting to be read and I basically listen to all of them. Here they are, in no particular order!IMG_20180723_1636059_rewind

  • 6 of Crows by Leigh Bardugo—I have heard about this book from a couple of people, and it looks good so I’m gonna give it a shot. The heist, the event it appears the story is built around, seems like a great opportunity for everyone to kill each other, so I’m interested to see how it will play out.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas—I have read and heard so much about this book. It looks thought-provoking and challenging. It covers the shooting of a black teen, which I believe is very relevant to our current climate in the U.S.
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner—I’ve been hearing rave reviews of this one since I was a little kid, and I just can’t resist a dystopian novel. I am interested in the maze and how this ties together with the characters to form a cohesive storyline because I have more recently heard that it lacks development.
  • The Illuminae Files Trilogy by Amie Kaufman—A fellow blogger and IRL friend, Iris @ A Hoard of Books, recommended this series in one of her mini-reviews, and I’m super excited to read these! The way some of the story is told through documents, emails, schematics and the like seems a really creative way to give more depth to the plot.
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson—If I’m being honest, my main draw to this book was the cover; it’s just so pretty! But the story looks good as well.
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown—This book has a really interesting premise—the color caste system—which is intriguing to me, and like I said, I love dystopian novels.
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan—Yes, I know. I’m like the only person under the age of 25 who hasn’t read it already.
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green—I LOVE John Green. As in, he is my favorite author of all time. I believe this is the last of his books that I haven’t read yet, and I am SO stoked to read this one. Because John Green. Enough said.

Those are all the books that are currently on my brain but don’t worry, I’m sure as sure as I finish writing this post I will realize I missed a very important book on the list.

Happy reading!

Books

Top 4 Reasons my Local Library is the Best Thing Ever

So, I LOVE my library. Felt like I needed to put that out there. Because the Tucson library system is the best thing ever—here’s a few of the many reasons to back up that seemingly absurd claim:

Sadie at 5 with library books
Here I am at age 5 checking out library books with my brother
  • There are 26 (!) branches in the Pima County Library system, 19 of which are in the actual city of Tucson. That means basically any book that I want can be ordered from somewhere in the system and sent to my local library.
  • If you want a book that the library doesn’t have, you can request that they buy it, or get it through interlibrary loan from
    another library. That’s pretty cool—more books for everyone!
  • We have so many programs that run through the library. There are book clubs, story times, arts and crafts, knitting groups… you name it!
  • More libraries means more bookworms! Libraries are free resources, and that makes reading and learning more accessible to people who might otherwise not be readers. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that more reading could ever be a negative thing. 😊

 

I don’t know what I would do without my library. I’d love to know what your favorite things about your library are!

Until next time!

Photography

Desert Photo Shoot

Last week, because the overcast weather from monsoon gives great lighting for photos, and all the good pictures I have of myself are now over a year old, my mom and I decided to go to Saguaro National Park and do a mini photo shoot among the cacti. It turns out the desert landscape is a beautiful place to take photos. Here are some of the photos of me (one of them my new profile picture!):

Recipes

Monsoon Rains and Hot Cocoa

Webp.net-gifmakerIt’s that time of year again—summer! In the Sonoran Desert, this means monsoon rains. Monsoons are when we get about half of our annual rainwater for the year, and I know almost everyone here loves to get a bit of a break from sunshine (if you non-desert-dwellers can believe that!). This time of year—mostly July and early August—is very important for the health of the desert ecosystem; we need the rain to replenish our groundwater. If you ignore the fact that it still gets into the high 90s, it gives everyone an excuse to snuggle up and drink warm drinks and pretend we have winter. So, in the spirit of acting like it’s cold out, here is my homemade cocoa recipe!

My Homemade Cocoa

Ingredients:IMG_20180711_2001084_rewind

2 Mug-fuls of milk

3 tbsp. cocoa powder

4 tbsp.  white sugar

Put the milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the cocoa powder and sugar to the milk and whisk until dissolved. Let the cocoa heat up to your desired temperature. Pour into two mugs, and top with whip cream or mini marshmallows (and maybe sprinkles!).

Homemade Whipped Cream

Ingredients:IMG_20180711_1942230_rewind

1 C. heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. powdered sugar (this is optional—I usually don’t feel that it’s necessary.)

In a medium bowl, add the cream, vanilla extract, and (if you are using it) sugar. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, whip the cream mixture until it is light and fluffy. Transfer into a container and store in the fridge. Mmm…

Enjoy!

Book Reviews, Books

Book Review – The Hazel Wood

I really enjoyed reading “The Hazel Wood” because of the well-developed characters and plot. It was a fun play on classic fairy tales, with a modern twist. The mystery of the plot easily pulled me in, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished! A couple of chapters in the middle of the book felt to me like they were dragging on and on, but overall, I would say that any lover of fairy tales or fantasy should read this book.

hazel wood cover

I would have appreciated the story even more if there were more about Ellery Finch. I felt that there was a lot more to be said about him, and it would have enriched the story if we had more backstory about Ellery and his family, and how his past motivated him to make the choices he makes in the book.

There is some violence, but only as much as you would expect from a book that shares similarities with classic gruesome fairy tales. Common Sense Media says, “A man is attacked by a mysterious bird. A major character has his throat cut, and a minor one is killed with an ax.” So, do with that information what you will. A character mentions losing his virginity. There is also a fair amount of swearing. I found nothing to be gratuitous, and all instances lend depth to the context of the book and characters.

I appreciate that, although a large part of the storyline of this book is about fairytales, it is also a thoughtful contemplation of life. I really liked Alice’s character because of how human she is—I think a book that shows a character as a multi-faceted being, instead of purely “good” or “evil”, is very valuable. I also really enjoyed all the chapters that take place in the Hinterlands; it was interesting to see the similarities and complete differences between that world and the world of our common fairytales. I think my favorite part of the book is how it takes place in two worlds (the Earth and the Hinterlands). It kept the story interesting for me because once I got to know one world, the story had already moved on to the other.

To sum it up here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Everyone is supposed to be a combination of nature and nurture, their true selves shaped by years of friends and fights and parents and dreams and things you did too young and things you overheard that you shouldn’t have and secrets you kept or couldn’t and regrets and victories and quiet prides, all the packed-together detritus that becomes what you call your life.”

I’m going to leave it at that.

Thank you for reading this review!