Wednesday, September 28, 2016

West Virginia and the Penny

My wife takes the empties back. She recovers the deposit on the bottles that we paid the deposit on. In New York, this is a nickel. She's not a so called "land clammer" who scours the recycling bins and trash barrels for bottles to redeem. She did however bring the empty Poland Spring water bottles back from Maine for her to redeem here in New York. It was a nickel in Maine, It is a nickel in New York. Forty-one years of marriage teaches you what not to argue about.

As a kid in the 50s, there was a two cent deposit on soda and beer bottles. Large quart size Coke bottles were a nickel, and they were a premium catch if you found one in the trash. I will admit as kids we did look, but I never remember accumulating any real spending money from the "land clamming" efforts. People for some reason like to smash the bottles when they threw them out. There was no plastic then.

Anyone paying attention to any campaign issues know that coal mining has been brought up as an issue. It is an industry made nearly kaput by administration policies. Coal states are suffering, and I would imagine the most coal dominated state, West Virginia is suffering the most.

The country singer-songwriter Kathy Mattea is from West Virginia and has an entire album titled simply 'Coal.' Times are always tough in coal country. Even tougher now.

Most people are familiar wit the lineup of states labeled on a bottle and what the deposit return is:
Looking at a 500 ml bottle of recently purchased Perrier shows:

Five cent refund: CT, VT, ME, MA, OR, IA, NY HI (10 cents MI)...

I understand there is a famous Seinfeld episode where I guess Kramer gets the bright idea to transport the New York nickel empties across state lines to Michigan and reap double the redemption value. This reminds me of the person who asked a financial column if investing in Forever stamps was a good gambit. Turns out it wasn't, considering even the tiny rate of inflation. Even worse when the temporary price of 49 cents was rolled back to 48 cents. Devalued stamps. Bolivia.

What now comes after the famous MI redemption value? Newly noted is WV 1 cent!

Huh? That's right, I had to keep looking at bottles to see if what I was seeing was on all of them. Ben Franklin's "a penny saved is a penny earned" is alive in West Virginia. The state considers a penny to be worth it to collect for unredeemed bottles, and purchasers value the penny enough to return the bottle.

A penny in West Virginia is a Godsend. Times are really tough in West Virginia.

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