Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


Our Trillion-Dollar Baby

I had somehow missed the discussion about the trillion-dollar platinum coin, which the Treasury Department would mint under a creative reading of a 1997 law that authorizes the production of commemorative coins. The coin would be deposited at the Federal Reserve Bank, where it would sit in splendor, like a beneficent monarch, enabling its country to carry on without Congressional action on the debt ceiling. The idea has met with much ridicule. But I love it. It brilliantly combines the hard currency demands of those who support a return to the gold standard with the cheap money of the Populist free silver and greenback traditions. All of American history can be read as a recurrent battle between the advocates of “hard” money (let’s call them Creditors) and “soft” money (let’s call them Debtors). Creditors want money to be as rare as possible so they can squeeze the blood out of those in their debt. That’s why we call them bloodsuckers. Debtors, by contrast, want cheap money so they only have to pay back 47 cents for every dollar they borrowed. That’s why we call them the 47 percent.

The plan is that, when Congress finally raises the debt ceiling and the coin is no longer needed, it will be destroyed. But that seems like a terrible waste of money – and obviously we are going to need that coin soon again. So I think we should give it to the Chinese as a memento of our entangling financial relationship . . . and as full payment on a trillion dollars of debt.

Clarence Speaks

A Samoan Tragedy