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In which John Green discusses his virulent hatred for pennies and nickels, two utterly irrelevant coins that inexplicably remain money in the United States of America. It costs more than 1.7 cents to make a 1 cent penny coin in the US; nickels are even more ridiculous, costing more than nine cents to produce.

UPDATE: Those statistics are out of date. In 2009, it cost 1.6 cents to make a penny and 6.1 cents to make a nickel; the US Mint lost 22 million on penny and nickel production, not the 70 million they lost in 2008. (This is because the recession has made zinc and nickel cheaper.) Thank to youtuber for the correction.

My inflation calculations came from the CPI inflation calculator:

Information about the opportunity cost implications of pennies and the calculations of lost productivity can be found here: and here:


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A Bunny
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Good Morning Hank, It's Monday, Labor Day 2010.

I got attacked by a baby. So Hank, I'm in love with your video from Friday where you exploited the relationship between privatized risk and public regulation. And, Hank, there was something about your intelligence and your passion that made me think "I need to start talking about the issues that are near and dear to my heart, even when they're controversial.

So I'm going to do it Hank, I'm going to say it: I hate pennies. So, Hank, in the United States of America we have money, which we use to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. The smallest unit of American Money is the Penny, which is worth one one-hundreth of a dollar.

So, Hank, here's the deal; because of inflation, in 1972 a penny was worth what a nickel is worth today, and yet in 1972 our economy managed to function just fine without having a coin that was worth one fifth of a penny. Here's what bothers me, Hank: It costs the United States Mint 1.7 cents to make a penny, which means that every year 70 million dollars of federal tax money goes to subsidizing the existence of the penny. Now, Hank, we can solve that problem by using Steel instead of Zinc to make pennies.

But, that wouldn't address the underlying problem which is that pennies are worthless. No they aren't. They aren't?

No, because things that are worthless are worth nothing and pennies are worth much less then nothing. So, there's this very important idea in Economics called Opportunity Cost that I'm not going to explain but basically anytime you are doing something you could be doing something else. But, several studies have proven that the time Americans spend fiddling with pennies costs us money, as much as a billion dollars a year.

So every year American Taxpayers pay seventy million dollars to have the opportunity to lose a billion dollars in productivity costs. There is no legitimate argument in favor of the penny. Many studies have shown that it wouldn't raise prices, it wouldn't cut charitable contributions.

The only institution in the World that benefits from the existence of the penny is a company in Greeneville, Tennessee called Jarden Zinc Products. For everyone else in the United States, pennies are not just worthless but incredibly expensive. But that is not even the ultimate reason to get rid of the penny.

The ultimate reason is that, as I said in the beginning of this video, money exists to facilitate the exchange of goods and services, and pennies don't do that effectively. All the places we usually use coins like Parking Meters and Vending Machines don't accept pennies because they are worthless. I am turning into a giant squid of anger.

You know the only thing I hate more then pennies, Hank? Nickels. A nickel, which is worth five cents, takes more then nine cents to produce.

Imagine, if you will, Hank, a situation in which you walk into a bank and say "I have here this nickel. Would you like to give me nine cents for it?". And the bank says "Yes".

That's what's happening with the US mint. The real solution is that we have three coins: a dime, a fifty-cent piece, and a dollar. If we did this, we would save billions of dollars annually, enough to pay for the job creation programs that politicians are fighting about on television all the time.

But we won't, Hank, for two reasons: one, because we're a species of sentimentalists. The only reason we have pennies is because people like pennies, and they grew up with pennies, and they like Abraham Lincoln. But let me tell you if Abraham Lincoln were alive today he would say "Why is my face on a coin that is worth one twenty-sixth of what a penny was worth when I was president?".

And, second, because it is not an issue you can really fight about. So about half of the main advocates for coinage reform have been Republicans and about half have been Democrats because it's not a political issue, it's just a rational issue. It's not the kind of issue that fires up your base, or gets you reelected, it's something that's gonna save Americans billions of dollars and create lots of exciting efficiencies in our economy and eliminate these disgusting bacteria-ridden discs of suck that fail to facilitate commerce.

Alright, but speaking of commerce, Hank, just a reminder to Nerdfighteria, a Vlogbrothers shirt designed by nerdfighter Vondell Swain is available for pre-order at, link in the doobly-doo. It's only available for one more week, if you want one get it now. We take Paypal, Credit Card, eCheck, really anything, except for pennies.

And nickels.