Death to Coinstar

A lot of people consider big banks evil. Why do people consider big banks evil?

Many like to express their frustrations towards financial institutions as places that don’t actually give material good to the world, and make money off of money, or often phrased as “making money off of nothing” or “selling a nonexistent product”. (Like churches.) Another issue people often take is the fact that banks make money off of people with unfortunate or exploitable financial situations.

If you hate what there is in this world that makes money off of nothing, then there’s another institution you might not have thought much about that exhibits this banklike property: Coinstar. Like banks, Coinstar makes money off of your money and gives you nothing else in return. Coinstar is as evil as big banks.

As evil? Pardon me; my apologies to big banks. Banks do give you something: they give you a relatively secure place to put your money and saves you a lot of the inconvenience of dealing with large amounts of money, and they allow you to take out loans so you have the money to do things that would hopefully be nice things to have but for which you for now don’t have the financial resources for but will more likely later, although how much of a nice time banks have with these loans is much of why people hate them. Coinstar actually literally just makes you pay a surcharge to be able to use money you already had.

But wait, doesn’t Coinstar make your coins more useful and less heavy to carry? Yes, what you’re buying with Coinstar is convenience, but this is convenience you almost certainly don’t need, because the denominations of change that actually make you go to a coinstar machine—pennies and nickels—are denominations of money for which the major issue with the pecuniary worth you are throwing away by using the Coinstar machine is not even the Coinstar surcharge but the worth of your time traveling to the machine to get rid of them. (Face it, if all you had to deal with was quarters, you wouldn’t use a Coinstar machine. Quarters are actually still useful in this age, though maybe not for long. They’re still not ridiculously inconvenient at laundry and vending machines.)

If you make federal minimum wage in the United States ($7.25/hour), then you have lost more than a penny’s worth of time if you took 5 seconds to deal with a penny. You’d think that given this the United States would’ve just gotten rid of the penny by now. Hahahaha. Guess why they haven’t?

Because Coinstar exists. Coinstar has partnered with companies that sell zinc to the US mint to keep pennies in production. Coinstar lobbies for the existence of an inconvenience that is precisely the inconvenience that their sole purpose in life is to exploit for profit. It’s not even really fair to argue that “Coinstar makes money off of nothing” is hyperbole when the one problem Coinstar exists to solve for your money is a problem Coinstar itself creates, and that it created for the purpose of having more of your money.

And how much does the Coinstar inefficiency autoeroticism ouroboros cost the US? $72000000 each year, just on penny creation itself. (Each year? Haha. Of course it keeps going up each year.) The metal in each penny is now worth in excess of 2 pennies, and billions of them are made each year. To put this in perspective, if you had $72000000 in pennies, you would have 71 million pounds of pennies, and if you were British and had 71 million pounds, you could retire now, while being less obese than the American. Whether you are British or American though, you could not possibly care less about the penny, if you’re British because pennies are worthless pieces of currency in your country, and if you’re American because pennies are worthless pieces of currency in your country. Just kidding, if you’re American they’re almost certainly less than worthless to you because of their time cost to your life.

This is the degree of evil Coinstar exhibits. Stop going to Coinstar machines. When you receive pennies in change, just drop them somewhere where you won’t get fined for littering. Or hoard them for the day the US makes melting coins legal again. Just kidding, that won’t happen because of Coinstar and the penny lobby.


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