Dear ITT Ideologist: Karzai’s Currency War, and Fearsome Flying Bankers

Pete Karman

(Illustration by Terry Laban )

Dear ITT Ideologist,

I am the debonair but mercurial satrap of a war-ravaged central Asian nation. Having become dependent on the kindness of both neighbors and strangers, I receive regular bagsful of moolah from both the U.S. and Iranian governments for the upkeep of my household. The Persian pelf is provided in Euros, a currently rising currency. But the American sugar for my tea is dealt out in declining dollars. I am hoping you might suggest a delicate way by which I could advise Washington of my preference for Euros or, better, gold without causing insult. 

H. Karzai, Kabul

Your Exalted Fraudulence,

Don’t hold your breath. I fear that the U.S. is in no mood to extend this small boon because you are behaving more like a sovereign than a satrap. Your American advisors are unhappy with you and other of its clients in the region for putting your trifling local concerns ahead of U.S. interests. In particular, Washington prefers that countries in your neck of the woods treat Tehran with fear and loathing. Instead, you maintain cordial relations and spit in Uncle Sam’s soup by openly accepting baksheesh from Iran. You have ordered private security contractors out of your country, denying them mountains of mazuma. And you are forever poormouthing U.S. and NATO troops for being trigger happy. My advice would be to get some bodyguards you can really trust, hoard your bucks and Euros, keep your head down, and start thinking about a career change.

Dear ITT Ideologist,

Whenever I board an airliner I worry that bankers, such as those who terrorized our economy, might be sitting in business class. I’ve learned to spot them in their bespoke suits and power ties. I try to discreetly point them out to the flight attendants. All the while, I can’t help but fret that they will somehow find a way of relieving me of my pitiable savings as we pass through the next cloud. Do you think my fears are warranted?

J. Williams,

Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Williams, 

We certainly do face a threat from bankers. But if we over-dramatize the danger and assume that all bankers are our enemies, the bankers win. In any event, bankers flying business class are likely to be low-level operatives. Otherwise they’d be sipping exotic waters on the company jet while dreaming up ever more abstruse varieties of debt. Though I share your trepidation, I do get along famously with the live teller who accepts my Christmas Club deposits. I also have a favorite ATM machine that greets me with a smiley face.

–Pete Karman

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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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