As you might have heard, nickels and pennies are more valuable now for the metal they're made of than for their face value. With pennies it's been that way for over a decade- each penny currently contains $0.016 in metal value. With nickels, it's been more recent.
This is a crisis, especially since the minting of money has traditionally been a minor income source for governments. Buy the metal at a lesser value, stamp the coin out, put it in circulation for a value slightly higher than its metal's cost. Granted, the mint still prints treasury notes at a massive profit and other coins at a lesser one, but it shouldn't take a loss on ANY currency.
So, what does it do? Does it phase out the penny and nickel? Does it revalue the dollar and put out new currency? Does it change the metal content of the coins?
No. It enacts a law making it illegal to melt them down for scrap metal.
Now, the thing is, currency is, by definition, the substitution of an abstract mode of exchange in the place of barter. Rather than trading twenty apples for a goat, you say that two apples are worth a dollar and a goat is worth ten dollars and use dollars to make the exchange. In this example, the apples are your property. The goat is the other guy's property. When you sell the apples for dollars, the dollars should be your property, right? And when you pay the other guy for the goat, the dollars should be his, right? And if he wants, say, to light a cigar with a dollar bill, that's his business and nobody else's, right?
Not according to the Treasury Department. According to Mint director Ed Moy, your money does NOT belong to you; it belongs to the government. All of it. All the time. You are merely allowed to hold on to it in order to promote the economy, but the government has not merely the power but the right to determine what you can and can't do with the currency in your possession.
And since that currency is merely a means of exchange for other forms of wealth, it's an extremely short step to saying that anything you BUY with that money belongs to the government, and anything you sell to GET that money belongs to the government, because since X goods = Y dollars, and Z services = W dollars, then all goods and all services are equivalent to dollars... and, thus, belong to the government.
Not only will this law be unenforcable for the most part, it utterly fails to address the root problem: that the American dollar has declined vastly in value since the last time the currency was significantly changed. Instead of fixing the problem, they're at best addressing the symptoms... and in so doing violating the property rights of every man, woman and child with a penny in their loafer.
(Oh, one other thing: don't go into Canada with more than five bucks in loose change. This new law makes that illegal, too.)