John Oliver Takes On Pennies & Gives His Two Cents On Honest Abe's Money — VIDEO
They're the copper coins in your wallet that you can't wait to get rid of, which is exactly why John Oliver decided to dig into pennies and their actual worth on Last Week Tonight's season finale Sunday. According to his calculations, eight billion new pennies are created every year, despite the fact that 1) it costs 1.7 cents to make each one, and 2) two-thirds of them aren't ever circulated, meaning no one is actually spending them. Abe Lincoln might command some serious respect in this country, but apparently, his currency doesn't get the same courtesy.
Oliver just doesn't get why pennies are still being made, since they've proven as useless as (in his opinion) the appendix or the new Muppets TV show. He's not alone, either. According to a 2002 Gallup poll, two percent of Americans admitted to straight-up throwing pennies away. And for one Redditor, a penny was so pointless that it was only worth sticking up his butt. Yes, the whole ordeal is outlined in the thread, "I Put A Penny In My Butt And Now I Can't Get It Out ..." Bless you, Reddit, and enjoy your John Oliver shout-out.
In fact, Oliver sees just two values in pennies: throwing them in a fountain to make a wish, or using them out of spite. Like the UNCC student who paid his $110 parking ticket completely with pennies. Genius.
So why, oh why, do we keep the penny around? It turns out there really is a lobbyist group for everything, and the coin has its cheerleaders in the Americans for Common Cents. And ... those cheerleaders are financially backed by big boosters like Jarden Zinc, which provides the metal that gets minted into pennies. But it seems that even they don't have that much at stake in the penny fight, providing just $140,000 in the first three quarters of 2015. Chump change, considering how its parent company, Jarden Corporation, is a $10 billion business.
But there are also Lincoln enthusiasts who vow to keep the penny afloat, which doesn't make any "cents," considering he's everywhere, from "creepy Chia pets" to the five-dollar bill, which is, by the way, worth 500 times the value of the penny.
So America, hear Oliver's final plea:
"Let's dump the penny. Not because we need to, not because it will change a great deal. But because there are certain things we know are impossible to get rid of: terrorism, herpes, and Guy Fieri. But the penny is a nuisance we can actually do something about. 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. We can do this!"
Sorry, Abe. Oliver's just being honest. Check out the full segment below.
Image: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver/HBO