Dear ITT Ideologist: Good vs. Bad Money

Pete Karman

Dear ITT Ideologist,

My tanning oil is streaked with the trail of tears I shed bemoaning our national debt. It’s so huge. Will it ever be repaid? How can our creditors ever trust us again? Will we have to give away the unaffordable Social Security system to my brother-in-law? Oh, the anguish!

–J. Boehner, Washington, D.C.

Dear Congressman Boehner,

Before I answer, I have to ask: Are you are familiar with a rhyme I learned in my grade school grammar class? It goes like this: When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking. I’m amazed how conservative attitudes toward China has mellowed over the years. Not so long ago Republicans were damning that nation as the evil of evils. Now they are demanding that we throw grandma out in the blizzard to help erase our red ink red with the red menace. Your solicitousness for the bankers of Beijing reminds me of the time you handed out checks from tobacco companies to fellow members right on the floor of Congress. I wonder if we will soon see you doing the same with reams of Renminbi.

Dear ITT Ideologist,

As a government clerk in an ordinary capitalist country, spending cuts meant, at best, having to turn in your stub before being issued a fresh pencil or, at worst, being given the old heave ho. In any case, it was bad news. But here in America I see numerous politicians who claim the opposite, namely that slashing public expenditures leads to broader prosperity and greater employment. I would like to believe this is true, if only to fit in with your way of thinking. But somehow it doesn’t click. Perhaps you might explicate these eccentric economics.

–B.R. Crat, Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Crat,

Being a foreigner, you may not be aware of America’s highly sophisticated dollar differentiation system. Over here, earnings from wages, contracts and such from the public sector receive the invisible stigmata BM or bad money, while dollars from the private sector are coded GM or good money. Any yahoo will tell you that it’s never good to have bad money or bad to have good money. Thus choking, if not actually strangling, the public sector reduces the supply of bad money. Conversely, engorging the private sector increases the supply of good money. Private investors can decide to endow a polo academy or buy an NFL franchise Or they can chose to create more jobs, some even in this country. Their freedom in this regard is what makes our country great. 

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Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.
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