John Oliver Declares War on Pennies

The “Last Week Tonight” host wants to get rid of our least popular and useful currency.
By Christine Linnell
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    Since we’re all thinking about money and how little of it we have this time of year, what better moment to enjoy John Oliver’s epic rant about pennies?

    Yes, it is possible to have epic rants about pennies.

    “The US Mint produces around 8 billion new pennies every single year,” he says. “Which is strange, considering that pennies are currently worth so little, they’re not even worth what they’re worth.”

    It turns out that each new penny costs roughly 1.7 cents to make – and there are no materials cheaper than copper and zinc that we can use to bring the cost down, either. And a cent is worth so little in our economy, numerous TV reporters have done experiments where they throw handfuls of pennies on the sidewalk and see if anyone will pick them up. Nobody does.

    As Oliver points out, the only thing the coins are really good for is vindictively paying parking fines in pennies, which only punishes the underpaid employees who have no control over the parking policy and now have to waste hours counting them.

    Or, if you’re more creative, you could always follow the lead of a Reddit thread called “I put a penny up my butt and now I can’t get it out.”

    Oliver makes a typically compelling and funny argument for getting rid of them, despite the weird Abraham Lincoln enthusiasts who are determined to hold onto them.

    “The penny is a nuisance we could actually do something about,” he says. “So let’s do it, America. Let’s get the penny out of our pockets, out of our dogs, out of our fridges, and out of our asses.”