With inflation so stubbornly high, it’s becoming impossible to nickel and dime someone to death, unless you were to pile the coins so high your victim no longer could breathe.

A penny for your thoughts? No? How about $5?

And if you get pennies from heaven, it’s probably because they have no use for them up there, either.

According to a simple inflation calculator app, a dollar today is worth about what a quarter was in 1979. And a penny today? It doesn’t even register in ‘79. My app says $0.

All of which explains why you’re not lugging around sacks full of coins and bills these days. That would make a night on the town a bit of a workout. It’s much easier to pull out a plastic card. Nothing says inflation quite like the fact many of you are literally throwing coins away. We measure what we value by whether we would search for that thing if it went missing. I’m guessing you wouldn’t sweat a common coin of any kind. A dollar? Maybe.

Meanwhile, inflation is hitting the U.S. mint, as well. It costs more to make the coins you hate to carry.

The Wall Street Journal this week reported that Americans toss about $68 million worth of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in the trash every year — maybe not intentionally, but they get sucked up by vacuums from within sofa cushions or cars and end up in landfills. That’s according to Reworld, a company that, among other things, collects buckets of discarded coins, cleans them and provides them to a third party for counting and depositing in banks. The Journal said Reworld recovers between $500,000 and $1 million in change per year.

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A penny saved may no longer be a penny earned, but 10 million pennies saved certainly is worth the effort. Still, many of you are hoarding yours in glass jars, hoping to take them to banks that are increasingly unenthusiastic about accepting them.

All of which raises two questions. Should the government keep minting coins? And are we now a cashless society?

According to coinnews.net, the U.S. produced just under 756 million coins, from pennies to half dollars, in January of this year, alone. The U.S. mint says it produces coins to satisfy public demand.

But cost is a concern. A marketplace.com report said each penny cost 2.7 cents to make in 2022. Nickels cost 10.4 cents each. Dimes and quarters were worth more than they cost to make, but those margins are getting thinner.

The rationale for continuing to make pennies and nickels is that they purchase much more than their value as they circulate through the economy, being used over and over again. However, with more people hanging onto them in jars and containers, their circulation is becoming limited.

As to the second question: No, we’re not a cashless society. However, we don’t use much cash.

A Pew Research Center poll in 2022 found that 41% of Americans said they go through a typical week without making any cash purchase. The figure was only 24% in 2015. Even though the pandemic, with its worries about germ-laden cash, pushed this trend along, I’m guessing it continues.

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But going truly cashless is a huge hurdle. It would take changes in law. Three people are suing the National Park Service for refusing to accept cash for entry fees. They cite a federal law that says “coins and currency ... are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues.”

For its part, the park service said it had to transport what little cash it was getting to faraway banks in rural areas. USA Today said Death Valley was spending $40,000 a year transporting cash.

As Dave Ramsey’s website says, a truly cashless society would be one in which no cash exists. Your money would be only a government-backed digital entity. That doesn’t sound like something a hyperpartisan Congress is going to approve any time soon. As a practical matter, you can’t put a digital coin under your child’s pillow to replace a lost tooth.

Still, many American are moving on their own toward lives in which cash plays no part. Unless Washington can get inflation under control, the nation may have to make tough decisions soon about the high cost of making coins a lot of us don’t like to carry.