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Canada to pull the penny from circulation

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(Image credit: Canadian Royal Mint)

The Canadian government announced on Thursday that it plans to pull the penny from circulation at the end of 2012, saying the copper-coated currency is more expensive for the Royal Canadian Mint to produce than its actual currency value.

"Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home. They take up far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs," said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. He also said it costs 1.5 cents to produce each penny.

"We will, therefore, stop making them," he said.

Nonetheless, the news has been causing quite a stir across Twitter today.

The U.S. faces a similar dilemma, where it costs nearly two cents to produce a single penny. U.S. pennies are in fact composed primarily of zinc, and have a thin copper coating. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the Obama Administration has proposed using less expensive materials in the production of pennies and nickels, but public misinformation on the perceived value of coins would likely stir up controversy.

It could also be disastrous news for at least one Portland, Oregon, nightclub.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama discussed phasing out the penny, saying, "We have been trying to eliminate the penny for quite some timeit always comes back. I need to find out who is lobbying to keep the penny." However, Obama said that fellow presidential Illinois native Abraham Lincoln shouldn't be phased out from our currency. "Oh, you think it's Illinois? You're blaming us?" he joked. "I will seriously consider eliminating the penny as long as we find another place for Lincoln to land." Lincoln, of course, already graces the front of the $5 bill.

The Canadian penny will still be accepted indefinitely as a form of currency, but the government says it will eventually require cash transactions to be rounded to the nearest five-cent increment. Customers are already forbidden from using more than 25 pennies in a single purchase.

"The penny has simply outlived its purpose," said Senator Irving Gerstein. "It is a piece of currency, quite frankly, that lacks currency."

The Associated Press notes that some countries have already eliminated pennies or their monetary equivalent from circulation, including Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland and Brazil.

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