How bout some thoughts on economics & politics…
This evening we saw a very clever news piece on CBS about the penny. Apparently (and I may have known this already) it costs more money for the U.S. Mint to produce pennies (and nickels, actually) than their actual value. And inflation is getting to the point where we may be in danger of sinister individuals melting down those two coins to sell them for scrap metal. It’s happened in other countries… it could happen here.
The nickel is probably safe. But the cost overruns on the penny are so severe, that it’s practically doomed.
Granted, there is a certain nostalgia involved. Finding a penny on the ground heads-up. A penny saved is a penny earned. A penny for your thoughts. Pennies from Heaven. But the people who really feel strongly about them should just keep a few for themselves, and not complain if the government wants to take them out of circulation.
The conventional wisdom is that all prices would then be rounded to the nickel. (Dogma Alert) But that doesn’t make sense, because as long as we’re adding some silly amount to the top of every price, like 7.1%, why bother rounding the sticker price at all? Retailers could leave the sticker price alone, and then just round the price after adding sales tax. That’s what they’d have to do anyway.
But (and here’s the dogma) I have something very different in mind. When I traveled to Europe in high school, I noticed that their merchandise tended to have human-type prices, such as 7.50, or 14, not this 1.99 crap, or worse yet, gas for 2.699 a gallon. Somebody decided awhile ago that every American would actually be fooled by the number nine, into thinking that the price was really significantly lower. As if 2.00 would cause sticker shock, but 1.99 seems reasonable.
The sad thing is, this may actually be true. But I’m tired of letting our culture be dictated by the lowest common denominator. I also think that life would be better if the price at the cash register was a human-type number. After all, what’s the point of rounding the sticker prices if you still have to dig into your pocket (or run out to your car) to get the necessary coins to handle the sales tax?
So here’s my proposal: Mandate by law that all prices below $1 be rounded to the nickel, all prices between $1 and $5 be rounded to the quarter, all prices between $5 and $20 be rounded to the half-dollar, and all prices above $20 be rounded to the dollar. This would naturally make the penny obsolete. In addition to that, ban the adding of any extra cost at the cash register, which would require retailers to include sales tax in their prices. There’s a few who do it anyway… it’s not hard. And if people see prices going up equally and simultaneously at every store, and they know there’s a good reason that’s not actually costing them more money, there should be no problem.
Imagine how much better things can be. You scan the items: $5.50, $6.00, $4.25, you select the $6 item, you take it to the cash register, and the amount you owe is… $6.00. Beautiful.
Will it happen? Duh… no.
I’ve decided that I’m not going to share my thoughts about the presidential candidates anymore, from here on out. And here’s why…
Despite being 28, and a relatively self-assured individual, I’ve discovered that I’m still fairly impressionable. I actually care what people think about me. And if I’m in the habit of talking about who I like and don’t like, who I’m supporting or opposing, I am susceptible to supporting a Democrat because I want to gain credibility with the young progressive people I often find myself around. Or to supporting a Republican because I’m afraid of alienating my fellow pastors, family members, or conservative friends.
But if I just keep the whole thing to myself, I can know that I am supporting the candidate I really believe in, and I don’t have to wonder if my motives are pure. I’m not saying this should be anyone else’s approach… just mine.
So I’m writing it here to make it official. If you catch me going back on my word, feel free to call me on it… and… throw me a sucker-punch.