Time for less common cents

I stand here before you to support a cause that receives no attention but one which would make your daily lives that little, tiny bit better.

Let’s get rid of the one and two cent coins. What a total pain in the rear they are, a waste of time and metal with no redeeming features at all.

A lot of people in Ireland took an instant dislike to this little pocket litter right from when the euro was launched. The conventional thinking was that people would get used to them, that the annoyance would go away and that whinging gits (like me) and their whinges would fade away.

I thought so too.

Until I came across a eurobarometer poll on attitudes to the euro three years on. And the news is that people right across Europe are becoming more annoyed with the little coins each year.

Some 40% of Europeans now think there are too many coins up from 38% the previous year. Those who say there are just the right amount stand at 53%, down from 56%. (Some 5% think there are too few coins. The cretins.)

The Germans are the odd ones here. They seem to like the little coins and because there are 80 million Germans, this skews the general EU view. In Ireland 59% of people now think that there are too many coins.

Tellingly, the people who are most happy with the euro coins are the Finns with 80% saying there are just the right amount of coins. This is, you see, because the Finns refused to use the one and two cent coins right from the beginning.

Apparently, the governments of Europe considered not introducing the two little coins in the first place but they feared that it could fuel inflation on the one hand and increase the perception of inflation on the other.

They were partly right. People seem to think that the euro increased inflation. The facts show otherwise but it’s very hard to convince people of that.

So inflation remains the main obstacle to getting rid of the little coins. This is misplaced. All the prices that are now 9.99 and 19.99 would have to be reduced to 9.95 and 19.95 as the five cent coin would be the smallest coin in distribution. The 99 cent shop would have to become the 95 cent shop. (This 99 cent malarkey is called ‘psychological pricing’ and under this theory it would still be better for retailers to charge 9.95 than 10.00).

Sure, some would indeed round their prices up but most prices greater than 50 cent are rounded to the nearest 5 cents anyway. And why don’t they up their prices anyway if the market will bear it?

It’s a nonsense. This campaign is spreading. Dutch retailers have decided to unilaterally round all their bills to the nearest 5c. Belgium says it is going to stop minting the little ones from the end of this year. Many businesses across Europe believe that the small coins are actually costing them money.

Believe it or not, the little coins cost more to make than they are worth. Surely that’s the point when it becomes ridiculous to continue producing them.

Let’s get rid of them. Ireland should do it immediately.