So why are so many Canadians caught up in the hype surrounding its demise? This announcement was included in our federal budget and printed in a book. Books are tantamount to learning and writing one is even crazier. So we focus on the first shiny object we see in the budget; a 2012 penny on death row.
The penny is ubiquitous across Canada and is distracting Canadians from the reality that the budget is as well. News reporters across the country are frantically reading viewer e-mails and pouring over twitter trails in the modern jungle of social media; that most public of stages where only the most serious issues are soberly debated, leaving the budget debate to the big boys in Ottawa.
If you’re as jazzed as most Canadians are about this, you’ll want to know what all the fuss is about. How will we pay for our maple syrup and 24oz. Tim Horton’s coffees when the total isn’t divisible by five? A rounding system will be imposed to increase or decrease sales totals to the nearest five cents. This will not be applied to credit or debit purchases, but only to cash sales.
Some journalists are even talking about a perceived incentive to use up pennies created by the rounding system. If you pay in exact change, you’ll never get burned on a round up. It is speculated that this will encourage Canadians to empty out their jars of pennies and pay exact change for everything. If this does come to fruition (who cares) we can all count on delays at the Timmy’s drive through as contractors and seniors stop to count out their pennies in the din of the morning rush.
Thanks to the elimination of the penny, there has been an immediate and national reaction to the budget. Unfortunately, it’s the same kind of attention garnered by a set of keys dangled in front of a baby. It’s a nice distraction while he shits his pants.
You see, buried in the budget are a few things the average penny spending Canadian should worry about. Stephen Harper and his Conservatives plan to cut federal spending on the environment while rolling back environmental regulations. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (our FDA) will see cut-backs, limiting specifically the regulator’s role in policing dishonest labeling. The qualifying age for Old Age Security pensions will increase from 65 to 67, but not until today’s Conservative voters are old enough to qualify at age 65 before 2023, when the new rule will take effect. Apparently, the government is betting that progressive voters won’t worry about retirement until they’re senile enough to vote Conservative.
This budget is building Harper’s Canada. One fraught with environmental and social problems that are ignored by a government that can’t see past dollar signs, directing its fiscally focused minions to find cheaper ways of doing business. The public’s preoccupation with the demise of the penny is a step in this direction.
I’m reminded of a phrase I often see written next to piles of pennies; ‘have a penny, give a penny, need a penny, take a penny.” In other words, having the right change shouldn’t be our most pressing issue.
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