Pirate Economics

(A Bit of Economic Humor)

Making Currency Edible

In today’s economy, times are tough. Tougher than delicious, savory, mouthwatering, orgasm-in-your-mouth, hickory-smoked beef-jerky tough. The money you have may not be enough to feed your family, but with my idea,  money will be what you feed your family. Perplexed? Take a seat, kick back, let me explain.

 Years have come and gone with innovations in the areas of technology: electricity, the cotton gin, those hand-grabber things so you don’t have to get off the couch to grab the remote, Shamwows. Yet in the centuries since we put a stop to separate state currencies (Georgia, I’m looking at you, with your high and mighty Georgian Buck),  we have yet to see a truly significant innovation in money itself…until today.

 Prepare yourself for a journey into the “what if”: a journey that will take you to delectable heights you have never dreamed of, a journey… into Delicious Dollars.

 Imagine a world where money is actually edible. The technology exists right now—edible paper that can be used for birthday cakes, wedding cakes, get well soon cakes, anniversary cakes, congratulations on your first period cakes, you get the idea. These new Delicious Dollars can be produced with a green tint, with a level of complexity bordering on the absurd.

 Edible money can be made a reality with just a quick scribble of Ben Bernanke’s magic pen. (Not even joking it’s one of those pens that can write upside down and under water, not to mention that with a mere wave of the pen and an utterance of the “Wingardium Leviosa” spell, he can magically raise the Federal Funds rate. Magic!)

 And the taste! Each bill—fives, tens, twenties—will taste different, with flavors determined by the top chefs in the country making it possible to change the deliciousness level of the money supply. Our new currency could still be minted (pun!) on the same printing presses as today, requiring none of those obnoxious change of address forms. In no time our currency will be far more sensually appealing than the plain and dull yen or the boring euro. What now, France?

 But the deliciousness of the money supply is more than just a culinary thrill. In fact, it may be just what the country needs in these tough times. Remember that Ben “The Bulldog” Bernanke has fought off the downturn by pouring money into the economy (if you don’t remember that, pay attention!).  In the old boring non-edible world, such a big increase in the money supply would eventually be followed by a massive increase in prices. Economic suicide!

 But wait just one goshdarn minute! Let’s rewind that back, but now replace regular, cottony money with extra tasty Delicious Dollars. The Bulldog drastically increases the money supply in the hopes that it jumpstarts the economy. In the short term, people have more money, spend more, get more lattes, etc. Remember this is super short term; just long enough to provide that spark for the economy.

 Now watch this–these Delicious Dollars are just so irresistible that people won’t be able to abstain for long. Maybe they’ll nibble one or two bills here and there, but soon hunger will take over and the money supply will start to decline.  And abracadabra, the Fed has provided a big boost to the economy without raising inflation.  Ben “The Booster” Bernanke is hailed as a hero and TV shows are created based on him. “Bernanke the Barbarian” goes on to run five thrilling seasons, topping “24” and “American Idol” for ratings every season.

 And what if people decide to keep spending their Delicious Dollars, rather than eating them? The answer is quite simple. Munchies. Give the entire nation the munchies. If marijuana is legalized for even a month, Americans on average will be much, much hungrier, and as a result will snack on the money in their wallet. Without even breaking a sweat, Ben “The Dealer” Bernanke will be able to sit back and relax while watching Americans eat themselves out of a recession. The economy never tasted so good!

 Of course, there are negative side effects to edible currency. For one it could leave to bigger weight gains. But for those Americans out there who are health conscious, there will also be Diet Delicious Dollars (Sugarfree!). Worth the same as a regular Delicious Dollar, this alternative is lighter to carry around and is incredibly delectable for fewer calories.

Perhaps this dream will come to fruition one day, where I can pull a bill out of my wallet, take a bite, and enjoy the soothing taste of luscious beef jerky. Hell, if the money supply was made out of beef jerky I would be that much happier. Damn, I love beef jerky.

Lazyfare

Today, politicians and economists cannot escape the big questions about the appropriate role of the government in the economy:  Should the government let its citizens suffer in economic downturns? Should the government offer healthcare insurance to all Americans? Should the government give lessons to Congressmen in how to get away with extramarital affairs?

None of these are easy questions. Some people think that the government needs to step in when teeny tiny things go wrong, like if your local Starbucks runs out of your favorite type of vanilla syrup and there’s nothing for you to do except to call Obama himself to march right down and find out the source of the problem. Forget about North Korea’s nukes, people!  The missing vanilla syrup is of national importance! (What are we, the Hardy Boys?)

Obviously most people aren’t as absurd as this, but still they believe that there are just some things that the market cannot fix by itself. If the market was one of those goofy Sunday comic dads, we would be in the panel where the dad tries to fix the sink and manages to flood the entire house. The government would be the plumber that the wife calls after her husband makes a royal mess of things. Nice one, ladies.

 Then there are others who cannot stand for the government to be meddling in their affairs, taking away their money to pay for all sorts of ridiculous programs. They shake a stick at those good-for-nothing senators and grumble loudly “You rascally dog government! You hooligans! Get off my lawn!” This would be categorized as wanting a laissez-faire approach, where the government mostly stands quietly in the corner.

Know-it-alls argue that the market will balance itself out naturally, and that messing with the economy will lead to massive instability.  They frequently use the infamous “Taser” argument when they debate. Essentially, it refers to how a gymnast on a balance beam might falter or sway, but the best thing is to just let her straighten herself out on her own. Laissez-faire economists argue that government intervention in the economy is like saying “Oh she’s clearly going to fall off the balance beam, let’s tase her so she gain her balance again.” And unless she’s a cybernetic gymnast sent back from the future to help us beat underage Chinese girls at the Olympics, the taser probably won’t help.

I say enough is enough! We should all be friends! I propose a new and improved form of laissez-faire which takes into account everyone’s objections. The government can intervene in the economy–but it will just refuse to tell anyone what it’s doing.

It will be a national cold shoulder to the public on all things economic.

Dick Cheney had the right idea. Ben Bernanke will reside in an undisclosed location that moves every four hours. The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy will be a classified secret. Banks will only know the fed funds rate through secret messages that burst into flames five seconds after being read.

From now on if someone asks to know if the new stimulus bill was passed, a call to their Senator will be redirected to the Federal Answering Machine. Press 1 to be told that the information is top secret. Press 2 to hear a firm “No comment” in the sultry tones of Larry Summers, Obama’s chief economic advisor. Press 3 to hear the international “Go away” of the day. A new task force named the Econ Enforcers will patrol the country, making sure that economic knowledge isn’t being shared in the black market.

So for all those people that want the government to have a role in the economy, your dream has come true. However, you just won’t know exactly how much of a role that is. And for those people that wish the government would go do something anatomically impossible, you won’t have to deal with your economy going federal. That’s because you won’t have any way to know if the economy and the government are even interacting. 

If no one knows what’s going on, they won’t have solid facts to complain about!

It will usher in a new era of unprecedented confusion and mystery. And who doesn’t like a good mystery? Like trying to find Waldo in a candy-cane store, Americans will get the fun of trying to find out what the interest rate is in a given year. (Months later investigators would discover Waldo’s body in the upper right corner. Cause of death was malnourishment from only eating candy-canes while waiting to be found. When asked how he discovered the roaming explorer, the lead detective remarked “Well to be honest, we just walked through the store licking everything. Turns out corpses taste a lot different than candy canes.”)

Once Americans are liberated from the clutches of economic knowledge they’ll be able to fully perform their roles as consumers. This excess of knowing things is really hampering the ability of people to spend money.

With this new system, stimulus packages in the future will be way more effective. If everyone is in the dark about where the money is going,  they will assume they are going to get their ‘fair’ share . Like the placebo effect, thinking that there’s more money pumping through the system could help improve certain parts of the economy. By the time people figured out where the money actually went, it would be too late. More people would have been much more productive, as they had assumed that they had funding to work with.

And just  think about it! Arguments about the state of the economy and national policy will be way more enjoyable to watch and listen to. People will be making stuff up right and left, letting everyone get a piece of the action. Not only that, but the United States will look much more mysterious in the eyes of other countries. We would be like that kid in school who always wears a leather jacket and dark sunglasses. No one would know if we were rough and tough on the outside but sensitive on the inside, or if we were just a total jerkwad through and through. With any luck, this aura of mystery will get us the most popular girl in school, if only because she’s so intrigued. (Why yes, New Zealand, we are the most eligible country)

If ignorance is bliss, then I’d like to use KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. And what’s simpler than just not knowing?

by Pirate Economist

The New WPA

Millions of Americans can’t find jobs, including many new college graduates. What should we do?

Back in 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt created an agency called the Works Progress Administration, or the WPA for short.  The WPA put unemployed Americans to work building bridges, highways and parks. It even hired actors to put on plays, artists to paint murals, and writers to produce local histories. 

You might think I’m going to suggest bringing back the WPA. Well, I am, but it has to be jazzed up a bit.  No more building bridges or painting murals on the side of actual buildings; no one lives in the real world anymore. It’s all about the Internet, man. We have to appeal to the younger generation, those overeducated whippersnappers who do nothing with their college degrees except browse Wikipedia aimlessly. And that, my friends, is where my idea comes in. 

We’re going to have this new WPA hire those unemployed college graduates. “To do what?” you ask.  Well, to do what they already are doing! We will pay college grads to put mistakes into Wikipedia and then we will pay other college grads to take them out again.

The ultimate 21st century economic stimulus! To fight the current downturn, we will need the largest sustained program of intentional mistakes and errors in history.

We’re not talking about putting little Tiny Tim errors into Wikipedia either. To keep the economy going, the new WPA will make sure its army of college grads aren’t just slacking on the job. That means we’ll want to see some very wrong mistakes. Wrong as in “Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity after dropping his new Apple iPhone on the ground.” Wrong, my fallacious friends, as in saying that an elephant is bigger than the moon. That wrong.

Now you might worry about what would happen if we just left all these errors in Wikipedia. Schoolchildren across the country would be doomed to hand in papers that might not just get them an F, but an evaluation of mental health.

But not to fear! That’s why for every college grad we pay to put mistakes into Wikipedia, we will pay another one to make everything right again. Only the best of the best will get these jobs, because they will actually have to know something. In fact, unemployed workers will compete with each other to get into the elite Wikipedia Conservation Corps.

Let me remind you that such jobs are in the best tradition of John Maynard Keynes, only the most famous economist of all time and a fan of paying people to dig holes.

If we institute this plan, in no time the economy will be sure to bounce back. The Internet is the future, people, let’s put our money where our browser is.

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