The worth of your two cents.

In addition to the billions we spend each day on “Bush’s War”, apparently we’re paying more for our pennies than we thought. This is the height of absurdity.

U.S. Criminalizes Coin-Melting: Bad Sign for Dollar?

Your pennies and nickels are now worth more melted down for their metal content than their face value. This has the government worried about more than just the most obvious, publicly stated reason.

On December 13, United States Mint officials said they were making it illegal to melt pennies and nickels and to take large amounts of the coins outside the country. Under the new law, anyone convicted of melting the coins or leaving the country with more than $5 in pennies and nickels or shipping more than $100 worth could be punished with five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Why the drastic steps? “We are taking this action because the nation needs its coinage for commerce,” stated Mint Director Edmund Moy. “We don’t want to see our pennies and nickels melted down so a few individuals can take advantage of the American taxpayer.”

Because of current zinc, copper and nickel prices, pennies and nickels cost the Mint far more than the coins are worth.

For example, as of the December 13 announcement, pennies (which are 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper) were worth approximately 1.12 cents. Similarly, nickels, which are 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel, were worth 6.99 cents—a whopping 39.8 percent above the nickel’s currency value.

For obvious reasons, when the metal value of a coin exceeds its face value, it makes people wonder if they could make money by selling the coin as scrap metal.

Although melting down U.S. coinage to sell the metal seems unpatriotic and opportunistic to say the least, it is a bit ironic that the Mint is worrying about people taking advantage of the taxpayer—especially since the Mint is now costing taxpayers millions by manufacturing pennies and nickels at a cost far above the value of the coins themselves.

According to the Associated Press, when all production costs are taken into account, the U.S. Mint now spends 1.73 cents to produce each penny and 8.34 cents to produce each nickel.

Therefore, since the Mint produced approximately 7.86 billion pennies and 1.42 billion nickels between January and November, the U.S. Mint itself, by making pennies and nickels that were worth less than their face value, actually cost taxpayers roughly $105 million just in the last 11 months.


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