24 August 2009

follow the money (the FED 1913-2009) dream summary

... all calculations use yearly CPI figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ... http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm ...

it just so happens that since the US Federal Reserve issued it's first Federal Reserve Notes with Benjamin Franklin's picture on them ($100) there have been exactly six 16-year blocks coinciding exactly with four presidential terms each.

nowadays, whointhehell cares what happened in 1913 ?
or 1933 for that matter ? (hell 1993 is 'ancient history' to many folks now. there was barely an Internet to speak of, cellphones were the size of a small loaf of bread, and a PC cost thousands, not hundreds) yet, i suspect, that except for a small fraction of young and/or extremely wealthy people, holding a crisp, new $100 bill in your hands, with Monsieur Franklin smiling back at you knowingly, still produces a thrill quite unlike any other. the thrill of "possibility".

therefore, i find it rather curious that as technology marches on, seemingly ever more rapidly producing 'possibilities' that were almost unimaginable just a few years ago, the 'possibilities' of that $100 note diminish simultaneously.

a couple of years ago i had a most vivid dream which recalled the days of my childhood. in my dream it was 1971 and i was 8 years old riding my new purple Schwinn bicycle on a perfect fall afternoon, through the as yet undeveloped sub-division not far from my home. in the dream i spied a car far off in the distance of the long straight road, but not so far off that i could not recognize it's brakelights signaling it's coming to a momentary stop, so that the man in the passenger seat could throw something like a briefcase out of the window of the car into the ditch alongside, overgrown with grass. (and muddy water, crawdads, etc. Baton Rouge in November)

the big car sped away with some screaching of the tires, and before i could pedal my way to the spot, i heard sirens in the distance. as there were no other people within sight for a thousand yards in any direction, i quickly retrieved the briefcase, ruining my converse tennis shoes in the mud, and sped home without even looking inside it.

without thinking thoroughly, i snuck my way through the house to my bedroom, to hide the case underneath my bed. only then did i realize the muddy footprints i had tracked all the way from the garage. the yelling that ensued upon their discovery may or may not have been the determining factor, but when the hollering was over i was in a mood to keep my find a secret. and i did. (somehow, in my dreams, i act for more intelligently and purposefully than i do in real life)

all that day my mind raced entertaining the possibilities of what might be in the case, yet i acted as calmly and lucidly as a made 50 year-old man (which by coincidence, i nearly am. 50, not 'made') ever so methodically i waited until late that evening to open the case. the recurring laughter from the living room insured that i would not be surprised by interruption. ('twas "Laugh-In" so it must have been a monday night) inside the case was row after row, bundle after bundle of $100 bills. one thousand of them to be exact (i don't know if 1000 notes will actually fit into a regular sized briefcase, but hey it's my dream)


mine, all mine. if i could just keep my mouth shut. and i did. (another contrary anomaly of dreaming?) being an impressionable 8 year old boy in the age of Nixon, i had absorbed the lessons of secrecy (and disclosure and 'modified limited hangout, etc.), but also, more so, the then still revered axioms about 'thrift' and 'saving'. so i said nothing and spent none of it. i vowed to 'save it for a rainy day', as i'd heard a hunderd thousan times (pardon the pun) though i did entertain myself verily in math class, calculating what i could buy with it. which at that time was about 3 new, average sized houses, or 20 new Cadillacs. (purple Schwinn bicycles no longer held their fascination)

in the next scene of my dream, a decade had passed, and it was time for me to go off to college. the secret still intact, the 'do not touch' policy now a habit. so much so that i didn't even use it to pay for schooling. though by now it would only buy less than two new, average sized houses, or ten new Cadillacs.

in the next scene another decade has passed. how or whether i got through college is not revealed, nor is my secret. but i no longer entertain myself with math calculations as it has become too painful. yet still the money remains untouched even though it will now only purchase one and a half new, average sized houses or three new Cadillacs.

in the final scene, another decade has passed as well as much of the fun 'possibilities' that originally came with the case. the $100,000 dollars will now buy only half a house and two Cadillacs (after taxes)... thus the cumulative effects of FED monetary policy and it's partner in crime, US Federal Government fiscal policy in just the thirty years from 1971 to 2001.

dream or nightmare? well, the policies and their aftermath really happened, but the dream did not (i made it up, can't ya tell? although the riding my bike part was real) ... for comparison, a child/bike/briefcase story in 2009 would necessitate that $531,000 be in the case in order to buy as many houses or Cadillacs as the $100,000 did in 1971.

or in reverse, in 1971 it took less than $19,000 to buy what it takes $100,000 to buy today