The problem with being paranoid is you might be right and therefore not paranoid at all. This really takes the fun out of things.
Case in point, “fiat currency”. In a sane world you’d just have “money”. Money makes sense. Why? Because hauling around a bushel of soybeans to trade for a case of PopTarts would suck. I’m happy with the idea of a medium of exchange. Unfortunately I’m not so happy with the concept of “fiat currency”. “Fiat currency” is the technical term for little slips of paper (or numbers in accounts) that have no value whatsoever other than a governmental blessing. The only reason I can use cash to buy cookies or cocaine is because the Government says “these slips of paper are totally awesome and nothing like that ream of paper you just bought at Office Max”. There’s one other part of that belief. If the people (en masse) start thinking currency is just paper… it’s game over.
Fiat currency is an impolite phrase. Nobody likes it. It’s something you’ll never hear uttered by most Americans. It also sounds silly right up to the point when it doesn’t. Like now. The debt is $15,981,575,234,553.39 and during bailouts in the last few years “totally awesome pieces of paper” have been created in such number that the Government couldn’t even physically print them. Not that they didn’t feel like it. It’s simply not possible. Even if you get a discount on cheap photocopy paper and have oh I don’t know… big bunch of factories that make money there is too much imaginary money to print it. When dollars are wished into being so fast that physically representing them on paper is impossible I get nervous. This makes me sound paranoid when I get together with the family for Thanksgiving. It’s tough being a Curmudgeon.
Even as I write this I realize that at least one other tinfoil hat wearing American will see the flaw in the above paragraph. You see I referred to the U.S. Mint as the Government’s big bunch of factories that make money. Other people who think too much about fiat currency (and therefore at least sound paranoid) will surely note that mint only makes coins…which are only good if you want to buy a soda at a vending machine. All the paper money is represented by Federal Reserve Notes. They’re made by the Federal Reserve. Who cares right?
Well there’s this part about the Federal Reserve being somewhat independent of the U.S. Government. Don’t trust me. Here’s what Wikipedia says :
“…the Federal Reserve is independent within government in that ‘its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government.'”
I can quote more authoritative sources than Wikipedia but if you’ve read this far you already knew it. I don’t see why my savings should be denominated in slips of paper that can be invented (it’s not even necessary to print it) by people who answer to darned near nobody and can tell the President and both houses of congress to kiss their ass. It’s as if you renamed “Big Donny’s Pizza” into “Federal Pizza” and started making imaginary pizzas…and I had to eat them.
Of course none of this is new. We haven’t been on the gold standard for years and the Fed has invented money out of thin air since then. This is why stuff that you’d buy for $1 in 1913 costs about $23 now. (You can have fun with inflation… I just picked that as a random example.) There’s no law that says you’ve got to print money until dollars are worth less every year for decades on end. It just seems to be how things go. I suppose the ability to “invent” money is as hard to resist as the power of Sauron.
Why mention all this? Because I wanted to list a few things that:
- Are true.
- Don’t sound true (even though they are).
- Sound really paranoid when you discuss it (even though they are true).
- Freak me out.
There’s something else that is true and yet sounds nutty. The Federal Reserve, which is quasi-independent of the Government and can hand me a pinecone and tell me it’s a $50 dollar bill if they wish… have their own police force. They are called Federal Reserve Law Enforcement Officers. They’re a relatively new thing; they were created following September 11, 2001. They have cool badges and guns and all the groovy stuff you’d expect.
You’ve got to be kidding me. A police force that doesn’t answer to the president or anyone else and employed by a system that can invent it’s own money. Am I the only one that thinks this is a bad idea? Also why should a bank to have it’s own police force rather than using something like Federal Marshals? What’s next? Should WalMart have it’s own Air Force?
So far nothing has become of it. Still I think it’s a bad thing. Does it make me hopelessly paranoid?
Also if you already knew about this… do you freak people out at Thanksgiving? Just askin’.