Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sign of the times...

I remember carping and grumbling that U.S. coins had been reduced to nickel-plated zinc and copper slugs with no intrinsic value.

Now zinc, copper, and nickel are so high that the coins are worth more as scrap.

I suddenly feel older.


T.Stahl said...

"The rule also bans the exportation of the coins, beyond traveling with $5 worth and shipping up to $100 for legitimate purposes."

Uh-hu. I left the States with way more than five bucks in coins. I hope I won't get arrested for it the next time I come over. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't get why the gov would care if someone melts pennies or even uses dollar bills as butt-wipe. What does it hurt?

El Capitan said...

I have a hard time believing that you can sustain a profitable enterprise melting down coins, factoring in the cost of natural gas/electricity (melting) and transportation (moving ingots to dealer) unless you're dealing in some serious bulk quantities. I mean once you melt down your jar of pennies, you've got... what? Maybe $16 worth of copper & zinc out of $15 in pennies? Even if banks would sell you pennies by the barrelful, the margin's just too slim, I'm thinking.

Anonymous said...

the margin may be slim, but the sort of people who try shipping wholesale quantities of empty cans and bottles across state lines to take advantage of a $0.05-per-item redemption-value margin won't let such minor details stop them.

so the potential harm, then, lies mainly in the huge quantities of currency that could (in theory) end up removed from the money supply. now, naïvely speaking one'd think that would cause deflation, raising the value of currency back up above scrap metal value again and so fixing the problem. but perhaps the impact of that deflation on every price other than scrap metal would be too damaging to the economy as a whole - i dunno.

the currency-export limits imposed here are, of course, ridiculously too low. i wonder why they're set at those levels; setting them at a hundred times what they are would accomplish the same useful purpose and sound much less draconian in the news reports. i'm not sure what's up with that.

(fwiw, currency having no intrinsic value is one of my hobby horses. i'm all for it, for precisely this sort of reason. if coins really did contain actual gold and silver, keeping their face value above scrap value would be much harder, and evidently it's too hard as it is. money is - or should be, at any rate! - too useful as money for us to go wasting it by using it as scrap. i'm agin' the gold standard for similar reasons.)

Rabbit said...

Around DFW, and probably elsewhere, it's just so much easier to steal the a/c condenser coils and copper gutters and downspouts from schools, churches, and commercial buildings.

They're even stealing aluminum light poles off the streets.

Some churches are on their third cycle of replacement of stolen a/c compressors this year.

Pennies are just too much trouble.


rickn8or said...

)"(fwiw, currency having no intrinsic value is one of my hobby horses. i'm all for it, . . .)"

Yabbut how are we supposed to finance a revolution when the gummint controls the value of our "money"??

rickn8or said...

And Tams, if ya wanna feel old, wait till you hear something similar to a line my #2 son laid on me after I loaned him my pride-n-joy '71 Nova for a few days.

"Gee Dad, my buddies think it's real neat how you moved the dimmer switch from the turn signal stalk to the floor."

Art Eatman said...

I forget when they first started messing with the copper content of pennies, but used to be, copper at $1.22/lb made a penny worth a penny. copper closed today on the Comex at $3.02/lb.

Hey, I remember back when we were still tied somewhat to gold, and we had real silver in our coinage. LBJ's "guns'n'butter" put paid to that, and Nixon then let the dollar float against gold.

Fiat money always goes toward ever-lessening value. Always has. Everywhere.

What cost a buck in 1971 is closer to $10, now. 35 years from now? Hoo, boy!


Anonymous said...

In Eastern KY, the meth/pot heads pull down power lines from coal mining sites to steal the wire. Seems like a lot of work, but you got to get your fix.

Bob said...

To get an idea just how bad that is: At the start of the country, manufacturing pennys was a crime but manufacturing gold or silver coins was not. Reason was that the copper needed to make a penny was worth less than a penny but the gold or silver needed was essentially the value of the coin.

A little study will show that that is exactly why the u.S. Constitution bans paper "money". If only the government would actually pay any attention to that piece of paper.