Monday, March 15, 2010

Money Talks...

Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832)

"Money talks, bullshit walks." That little piece of good advice was taught to me many years ago by a savvy New York movie producer.
Government and Money lead to a problem: Why is it that any form of money like a kwai, a pound, a yen, or a buck has no real identification? Therein is a truth that goes deeper than the silk-laced paper note in your wallet, the balance in your Quicken check register, or the absolute value of your biggest asset. Some money has also been called a quid, or a shilling, or an RMB, or a sou. But money has no name really. No name at all.

There's no DNA to money. There's no address to money.

Money is secret. Money is hidden. Money is encrypted. Money is not transparent.

Money travels where it wants to go without question.

Money is a John Doe with a passport to anywhere.

The anonymity of money is the reason we have the drug trade and the drug lords in Afghanistan and Colombia. Anonymity is also the reason we have Wall Street Goodfellas who pay themselves bonuses of millions and millions of US dollars. That no name money can be quickly and easily hidden away in any amount. All those unknown, mysterious Goodfellas must hold discretely numbered bank accounts in Switzerland, or the Bahamas, or Singapore. If no name money was invented in the last century, the CIA and the NSA certainly would have been the originators of the brand to expedite their nefarious schemes across the world.

Now some history of economics. No name money is the reason we have
modern economic theory going all the way back to Jean-Baptiste Say (whose name was a tip of the hat to his protestant upbringing in a nation of papists) and to Adam Smith and his "The Wealth of Nations" and to Harriet Martineau and all the other early philosophers. In 1803 Say said that "in the market place money is completely neutral," and in Econ-101-speak "Good money always drives Bad money from the market place." This is also known as Gresham's Law, but it actually goes way back to classical Greek drama in a play called "The Frogs" by Aristophanes.

Jean-Baptiste Say thought of the economy as a product-driven market place. By all rights and by the grace of our godly traditions, our modern market place has transformed itself into a no name money-driven one.
Our no name money-driven market place is guided by unseen no name monetary policies from people like Milton Friedmann and Alan Greenspan the powerful purveyors of laissez-faire everything.

To record no name money amounts in our world we use discrete numbers as in discrete mathematics.
That means you must have an integer value for your bucks. That is 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on. It's like a stairway: one step to the next is a jump of some discrete amount. There is nothing in between stair number one and stair number two. So an amount of US$ 25.00 cannot be smaller or larger than the zero cents at the end of the figure except for some US property taxes in "mils" or tenths of a cent. US$ 25.00 is exactly twenty five bucks and nothing else. It's like one of the ten commandments from the Muslim-Christian-Judeo sutras. It is what it is, and you better not change one "i" or one "t" or else.

Some of our Know Nothing republicans in Washington who strive to stop health reform have named some no name money as "Good" and some no name money as "Bad." They affirm that they cannot vote for the present bill because it provides for government sponsored abortions. But that is incorrect because the present bill states that you can make two different payments for your health insurance. The first "Good Money" payment excludes reproductive health care. A second, separate "Bad Money" payment can be made for the reproductive policy. That separate policy may provide for abortions if needed.*

So by the new Say's law of the land, we now have two different kinds of money: buck #1 ("Good Money") provides for a strange, religiously correct health care that meets the pompous demands of our Cheap-rent "C" Street Ticklers coalition. And another buck #2 ("Bad Money") can be used to buy a policy that allows for coverage for an abortion, if needed, and other female abdominal procedures.
This is counting angels on the head of a pin. This is mediaeval. This is a little nuts.

What all this goes to is the anonymity of money. We need to get money out in the open for a good airing. And some re-naming. No hiding it in a numbered account. No working around the rules.
We need to see clearly how much money is controlled by each and every person in public office in the entire nation. Otherwise you cannot run office. And we need to require the shareholders of every financial corporation in the United States to closely regulate how much money the execs pay themselves. The shareholders. Not the executives.

And the no name money those financial executives control is to be named and it is to be clearly open for public viewing.

We need to stop transfers of no name money to off-shore banks for the purpose of hiding the no name money.

We need to open the books of non-profit corporations like every religious org so that the public can see why we are granting those orgs special dispensations like no taxes.

The way to do all this is to name the no name money. Everyone wants privacy. But not everyone can have it. Sorry, the good of the nation is at stake here.

* Remember "Separate but Equal" schools for black and white people under the infamous Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling by the racist US Supreme court in the 1890's.

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