Monday, September 20, 2010

Where Have All the Pennies Gone?

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

The exchange rate for money changes daily on this tiny island, but, on the average, it takes about 84 yen to equal one dollar.  Since I have been here the rate has fluctuated between 81 yen and 86 yen to the dollar, and it never fails that when I need to exchange dollars for a bunch of yen - like, say, to pay my rent - the exchange rate will dive.  Yen currency comes in10,000 yen notes, 5,000yen  notes, and 1,000 yen notes.  The Japanese coinage runs 500 yen, 100 yen, 50 yen, ten yen, five yen, and one yen.  All of the coins are metal with the exception of the lowly one yen piece that appears to be more plastic than it is metal.  One yen is worth more than a penny:  one eighty-fourth of a dollar versus one one-hundredth of a dollar.

The reason I mention all of that is that Okinawa is a land of no pennies.  American currency is used on all of the military bases, but pennies are not given in change.  All purchases are rounded up or down to the nearest nickel. As odd as it seems, the system works nicely.  If Wal-Mart and some of the other major vendors in the United States would adopt the same policy, the penny would be a thing of the past.

And you know the teabaggers would love that - one less liberal to look at every time they get a handful of change!

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