A few weeks ago, international investment guru and libertarian activist Doug Casey of Casey Research came by the Reason HQ in Washington, D.C.
Look for an interview to go live in the next week or so. Casey is talking up a new documentary he's put together called Meltdown America, which warns that the United States could end up suffering fates similar to Greece, Argentina, and Zimbabwe if we don't get our fiscal house in order. Watch that online and look for a Reason TV interview with Casey to air here within a week or two.
Doug carries with him a $100 Trillion note from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Check it out above. Very official looking, packed with anti-counterfeiting technology, signed by a political appointee (just like U.S. dollars!), and even numbered in the lower-right-hand corner so that you know it's like totally legit, right?
Sadly, the purchasing power of the note above left a lot to be desired. In 2006, for instance, The New York Times reported that a roll of toilet paper in Harare would set you back about $145,000.
As Jimmy Carter (as played by Dan Aykroyd) once explained on Saturday Night Live, inflation doesn't have to be a drag. It can be our friend with the right attitude:
in the year 2000, if current trends continue, the average blue-collar annual wage in this country will be $568,000. Think what this inflated world of the future will mean—most Americans will be millionaires. Everyone will feel like a bigshot. Wouldn't you like to own a $4,000 suit, and smoke a $75 cigar, drive a $600,000 car? I know I would! But what about people on fixed incomes? They have always been the true victims of inflation. That's why I will present to Congress the "Inflation Maintenance Program", whereby the U.S. Treasury will make up any inflation-caused losses to direct tax rebates to the public in cash. Then you may say, "Won't that cost a lot of money? Won't that increase the deficit?" Sure it will! But so what? We'll just print more money! We have the papers, we have the mints.. I can just call up the Bureau of Engraving and say, "Hi! This is Jimmy. Roll out some of them twenties! Print up a couple thousand sheets of those Century Notes!" Sure, all these dollars will cause even more inflation, but who cares? Everyone will be a millionaire!
In looking at the $100 trillion note from Zimbabwe and picking it up, never did I feel so good about our country's own fiat currency—and the wisdom of pulling bills worth $1000 and more out of circulation starting in 1969.