Thursday, August 4, 2022

Why Do We Still Use Pennies In The U.S.?

 For some time now, I've wondered why we still use pennies and some other old systems here in the U.S., instead of being on the front lines of change. 

Here are a few examples that must influence how we interact with other modern societies. 


Many modern countries, including Canada and Australia, are working in the direction of becoming cashless societies. 

Sweden, which in 1661 was the first country in Europe to issue bank notes, is now for the most part a cashless society. 

So why in the world do we still use pennies in America?

I imagine congress would have to approve getting rid of pennies.

Metric System:

When I was a teenager, I read Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck and learned that two men shared a gallon bottle of wine. 

I still remember looking it up and learning that a gallon was almost four liters, which blew my mind. Both the size of the wine bottle and the fact that two men were busy finishing it off. 

Checking online, I learned that as of July 2017, only three countries in the ENTIRE WORLD do NOT use the metric system:



The United States of America

I know we are a very large nation, and I imagine it would be difficult for industries to switch to metric at this late date. 

It probably would have been easier years ago and we were headed toward a change in 1975, but congress voted to keep the Imperial System, as our present system is known. So here we are. 

Since we are doing business with the rest of the world, I imagine a lot of conversion must be going on, back and forth.   

I also learned that Britain switched to the metric system in 1965, but still use the Imperial system to measure distances. 

An English mile is 8 furlongs, which is 1760 yards and this is the mile also used in the United States and some, if not all, of the Commonwealth countries. 

Why not make it simple:

1,000 meters = one kilometer

In Sweden they call 10 kilometers a mil (mile) but I'm not sure about other countries using the metric system.

Multiply by 10 and begin with 1 millimeter x 10 = 1 centimeter, then 1 centimeter x 10 = 1 decimeter, 1 decimeter x 10 = 1 meter.

No furlongs to worry about. Not that we worry about furlongs in America, but still...

While I understand it may now be too difficult to change to metric, may I just ask this:

Why in the world do we still use pennies in these United States?


While I checked around, I noted that some European countries had other ways of measuring distance, but I didn't add that because this would then have become a very long post.

And I a very tired old woman.


  1. I agree about the pennies. We won't even pick one up if we see it on the ground.

    1. pick up those pennies Ginny. I paid for the trundle bed in my front room, 180.00 with rolls of pennies. the thrift store said money is money.

  2. They do still use furlongs in the horse racing world. The only place I know of.

  3. Hi Inger ... and the nautical mile ... I used to work for a company exporting capital plant and machinery around the world ... and bills of lading muddled us totally with the American system, and the changing British and European measures ... I love our old language of currency - so often stemming from Roman times. It's interesting how currencies have been adopted over the years ... I wonder why the States have kept theirs ... yet Canada is now metric ...

    Oh yes - way too much to post about it ... and so don't worry too much! Cheers Hilary

  4. Hari OM
    Your mile may be equivalent in length, but the American liquid measures are NOT the same as the Imperial measures. This grew out of the early settlers using the Queen Anne system which was not standard. This changed. The Weights and Measures Act of 1824 and the Act of 1878 established the British Imperial System on the basis of precise definitions of selected existing units. It averaged the different British regional measures to form the Imperial system ("of the empire") Technically, the American system is called United States customary units or USCS... but I guess old habits die hard! Like holding onto those pennies. In Australia, copper coins were removed in 1992. I realy wish the UK would follow suit. That said, I've hardly handled cash this past three or more years. COVID has ensured the advance of cashless transaction.

    Nice post to ponder upon, Inger! YAM xx

  5. phooey on the long comment that went POOF and I get so aggravated I can't remember what i said. it mayb show up and it may not and no idea where it went. this may be a repeat. If the USA every changes all this stuff mentioned here, i hope it is after I am dead and gone. I do not want to try to learn the new way.

  6. Pennies are for saving and buying something fun down the line. Mine all go in a jug till I get enough. I would not want to go totally cashless. Then if we had an EMP attack or failure, you couldn't buy anything. As for changing to metric--I'm with Madsnapper. Hope if we do it is after I am gone:)

  7. Excellent points. Seems to me that the US (more specificially its citizens) is not very good at change, and many of us get our knickers in a twist when the government tries to tell us what to do. So even logical and obvious change (like moving to the metric system or getting rid of pennies) becomes almost impossible. It doesn't bode well for our future.

  8. Canada is metric but being an old woman, I still measure in the imperial system. I don't miss the pennies as my purse is lighter but I certainly don't want to be a cashless society. A good thing I had cash in my purse when Rogers debit system crashed and the store couldn't accept debit or credit cards. I went ahead and paid for my grocery in cash while others has to go home empty handed.


  9. ahh interesting point - i do save pennies and counted them up the other day. I have about 50 bucks in pennies right now. Not that much really but heck it could buy me ...can't think of what as there isn't much of anything I want anymore other than food, housing and clothing. I enjoyed your take on pennies and metrics.

  10. Hi human friend! I live in Canada! My person still has lots and lots of pennies, but there's not much to be done with them anymore except put them in a vase of tulips to keep them fresh. Also, measurements are very confusing here. My weight is measured in pounds, as is my height. The size of a room is measured in feet, but how far we drive is measured in kilometers. We measure something small in inches, but something tiny in millimeters. When my person cooks she uses pounds and cups and grams and liters depending on what she is measuring. I think it's all very confusing!


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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