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Furthermore! – Send In the Clown

January 9, 2013

Furthermore

Furthermore! – Send In the Clown

Paul Krugman’s analysis of platinum debt coin critics was so spot-on I was inspired to make balloon animals. If only squirrels had lips…. (More)

I once watched a clown make a balloon squirrel, at a toddler’s birthday party in a park. Mrs. Squirrel and I were delighted to attend the party, less because we like clowns than because the hostess gave the kids peanuts and toddlers are clumsy.

But I digress.

The point is, I know how to make a balloon squirrel, but squirrels lips are too small for our front teeth. We need those front teeth to open dinner. In fact, our teeth are strong enough and sharp enough to chew through a coconut shell. Alas, they’re also strong enough and sharp enough to chew through a balloon. Ah well. I really wanted to make a balloon me.

That might limit my clown career, and thus my chances to be Treasury Secretary. Not that I’d wanted the job, and President Obama hasn’t said a word to me about it. But Paul Krugman got me thinking:

There seem to be two kinds of objections [to the platinum debt coin]. One is that it would be undignified. Here’s how to think about that: we have a situation in which a terrorist may be about to walk into a crowded room and threaten to blow up a bomb he’s holding. It turns out, however, that the Secret Service has figured out a way to disarm this maniac – a way that for some reason will require that the Secretary of the Treasury briefly wear a clown suit. (My fictional plotting skills have let me down, but there has to be some way to work this in). And the response of the nervous Nellies is, “My god, we can’t dress the secretary up as a clown!” Even when it will make him a hero who saves the day?

You can see why I began thinking I might be a good Secretary of the Treasury. Or I could wear a football helmet and be Secretary of State. I think the decorative toy helmets they put on cakes would fit me. So I’ll be happy to serve as a clownish Treasury Secretary – I’m sure a Deputy Secretary could make the balloon animals – or as a hard-headed Secretary of State. It’s entirely up to President Obama.

Again, I digress.

The point is, the platinum debt coin is no more a silly gimmick than the problem the coin would solve. In fact, Business Insider‘s Joe Weisenthal calls this:

… the most important fiscal policy debate you’ll ever seen in your lifetime, because it gets right to the nature of what is money.

Weisenthal explains that the critics make a fundamental mistake when they equate the platinum debt coin to a family printing money to pay off household debts. Our federal government has the lawful authority to print and coin money, after all. His fascinating essay explores why so many humans don’t understand what money is, and concludes:

Remember, money is a fiction. Real wealth is capital assets, our infrastructure, our cars, our houses, and most importantly the potential human ingenuity and cooperation. Money is just something that the government creates to facilitate the trade in all of those things.

The #MintTheCoin debate, more than any other fiscal debate we can remember, gets right to this matter.

In fact we have only about $2.5 trillion in U.S. currency circulating, but that currency supports about $40 trillion in domestic economic activity and public and private debt. The rest reflects our trust in each other. Republicans want to violate that trust – or threaten to violate that trust – to force an agenda voters rejected in November.

So yes, send in the clown. I’ll even wear a big blue nose to my Senate confirmation hearings. If President Obama chooses to nominate me, of course.

Good day and good nuts.

  • addisnana

    Dignified and Congress are two words that are hard to write in the same sentence. Squirrel and Treasury Secretary don’t even seem absurd after the last sentence.

    Dear FBI, if the BPI Squirrel needs a character witness during the pre-nomination investigations, feel free to contact me.

    Dear Squirrel, have you thought of abandoning your thesis on 20th century nutitude and instead writing a book Congress for Dummies?

  • winterbanyan

    I had to laugh as I read this. Solving the debt ceiling by minting a platinum coin would be clownish?

    Anyway, if we need to put you in a blue nose and helmet to become Treasury Secretary, I’m all for it. We need a clown who understands these issues.