BLACK & WHITE NEWS REEL NARRATOR Last time on Common Sense Soapbox, Bob to the Future! BOB No deal! Money is EVIL! I'm gonna barter this meat for the stuff I need. CUT TO: CHARLIE ...we solved this problem thousands of years ago! BOB We did!? Bob rises back up without the use of his arms or legs, effectively “falling” back up, gross taco meat in hand. CHARLIE Yes. With the invention of money! EXT. FLEA MARKET - NIGHT It's the end of the day and shops are starting to close down. Bob has spent all evening trying to get someone to trade him tools and holographic info-cubes for his dripping, gross meatwad. Penguin sits next to them reading/looking at his info-cubes, learning about business. BOB UGH! Cold, cruel world! What Bob defeatedly falls over onto the ground again, holding the taco meat up in the air while he's on his back. CHARLIE Look, I know you think money is evil, but having a widely agreed upon medium of exchange is absolutely necessary in order for a complex society to function. BOB (slowly coming around) Explain. CHARLIE If people use money for at least one side of every trade, everything gets easier. We're no longer restricted by the double-coincidence of wants. Bob gets back up. BOB (frustrated) Huff. Charlie points at the meatwad. CHARLIE Plus money would hold its value a lot better than... That. INSERT: Flies buzz around the dripping meatwad. BOB You take that back! Bob looks lovingly at the meat. CHARLIE Yeah, well, it's not getting any better tomorrow. Bob resigns a little bit. BOB Alright, fine. But it's not like money is so great! In my time, we had inflation every year! CHARLIE Well, that was back when governments were in charge of the money supply. BOB Wait... Didn't government create money in the first place? CHARLIE Aaaaaaaactually... No. BOB Don't start. Penguin taps on Bob's shoulder, and holds up a little wristband on his flipper, and a hologram emerges showing early money. CHARLIE Currency evolved organically. From using shells and animal skins as a medium of exchange to the first commodity money made of bronze, thousands of years ago, most of this was a product of people just trying to make trade easier. The hologram turns into a Greek coin with a lion head on it and the words, "Coin of Alyattes, 600BC". When the coin appears it makes a "Ca-Ching!" noise. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alyattes_of_Lydia BOB Okay... But what does that have to do with inflation? CHARLIE Supply and demand affects money too. When there's a lot more money floating around, it loses a little bit of its value. And sometimes governments think printing a ton of new money is a good way to pay for stuff they can't afford... BOB Can't afford? CHARLIE Well, yeah. If you spent all your income and then borrowed as much money as anyone else was willing to loan you, and then you spent all of that, at some point you'd probably have to accept the fact that you need to spend less. You couldn't just print new money for yourself. BOB That would be counterfeiting! CHARLIE Yep. But Governments can print as much money as they want, and when they abused that power so they can pay for expensive programs or wars, really bad things happened to their economies. Penguin's flipper-watch hologram turns into an array of bank notes from Zimbabwe, Weimar Germany, Venezuela, etc. and in the center we see an old news article with the full-page headline, "Hyperinflation!" BOB Wow. Maybe that isn't such a good idea. CHARLIE Sure isn't. But we don't do that anymore. BOB (sarcastically) Whew. Anything else you want me to know about money? CHARLIE Yeah, one more really important thing. BOB Allllright. CHARLIE Money is how we measure economic value. Prices, profits, and losses are actually signals that tell us a lot of really useful information about what people want or don't want. And that information is how we coordinate all kinds of economic behavior across our whole society. Charlie points at Bob's sad taco meat. BOB ...and when nobody's willing to buy what you're trying to sell. Bob gets offended again. BOB Don't you dare tell me no one wants this delicious meat! Bob holds his gross taco meat-filled walled up with pride and takes a big bite of it, as if it’s a leathery taco. CHARLIE What are you doing?! BOB Making the best of a bad situation. A Rich Flea wearing a tuxedo and monocle stops Bob. RICH FLEA Is... Is that a lint taco? CHARLIE A... lint taco? RICH FLEA Oh, I haven’t seen one in ages! I’ll give you 50 credits! BOB (confused) Umm... RICH FLEA 100! No, 150!! I must have it! BOB But I’m not looking for money, I’m looking for technology I can use to build my invention! Why isn’t anyone getting that? RICH FLEA Good sir, you can use the money I pay you to purchase whatever technology you want! Beat BOB Why didn’t anyone explain that to me earlier!? You’ve got a deal! Charlie face palms.

Common Sense Soapbox

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About this show

Short videos with a punchy, comedic tone and entertaining Socratic characters taking on trending issues and important concepts from a classical liberal perspective, written & animated by Seamus Coughlin.

January 28, 2020

Bob can't get anyone to trade him technology for ripened taco meat, but he's still not sold on the use of money. After all, inflation steals some of the value of money over time. But is that a problem inherent in money, or is it because of governments poof-ing money into existence to pay for things they can't actually afford?


CREDITS:
Written by Seamus Coughlin, Jennifer Maffessanti, and Sean W. Malone
Animated by Seamus Coughlin
Edited by Sean W. Malone