Capitalism, the foundation for a free market, has its cost. It’s called inflation. And when that cost is accompanied by rising raw materials prices, especially in metals, that cost multiplies. We’ve all heard the arguments that we should at least stop using pennies in North America, since the average penny cost 1.25 cents to make in the US in 2006, and maybe even nickels, since they cost 5.73 cents to make in the US in 2006, but it seems that our problems in North America are nothing compared to the problems they have in India.
It seems that their rupee, worth about 2.5 cents in North America, is actually worth about 15 cents to your average resident if they melt it down and make razor blades. It’s as illegal there as it is here, but when your currency is worth at least 600% more as scrap metal, and at least 25% of your population is below the poverty line, it becomes a bigger problem than copper salvage in China. The coin shortage is so bad in some places that some tea gardens have had to resort to using card-board coin slips internally.
It’s a good thing the smugglers and grocers aren’t thinking globally, because razor blades these days cost a heck of a lot more than 2.5 cents! The going price is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.22 cents for a Gillette Mach 3, or roughly 74 cents here in Canada (as evidenced by a recent Walmart receipt, which is the lowest cost seller in the area). If they ever figure this out, I doubt there’ll be a single rupee left in India!