Sometimes I feel sorry for George Bush, he has so much responsibility. What with keeping the world safe for Democracy and feeding all the starving children, there just aren't enough hours in the day! In addition to his public responsibilities, he has one secret responsibility that he doesn't want to talk about:
Protecting the status of the Petro-dollar as the world's reserve currency.
Simply put, the dollar has for several decades been positioned as the only way for an industrialized country to pay OPEC for oil. No matter who you were, you had to buy American dollars and then send those dollars to OPEC, who would then use the money to buy American debt, or American weapons.
It was the perfect set-up. Greenspan printed worthless dollars, and gave them to people who gave us free gasoline, and free TV sets, and free wicker furniture. The game changed, however, when the Euro was introduced. Now, many oil-producing nations are accepting the Euro instead of the dollar. Saddam loves the Euro.
This new competition from the Euro makes Uncle Sam very angry. So Uncle Sam came up with a plan; he sent a secret message to all the Arabs:
You will only accept American Dollars, or we will kill you.
This, to a large extent, explains the secrecy surrounding the activities of the American government. It would be difficult for President Bush to go on TV and explain the benefits of his Dollars or Death foreign policy. Many left-wing pacifists would say that we shouldn't kill people who accept the Euro. (Unless they are French.)
In spite of the threats, the Euro is continuing to gain in popularity. So what? You might ask. If oil sellers take one kind of worthless note instead of another, that's no skin off our backs. But the American government can't print Euros. It can only print dollars. Therein lies the problem:
No more Petro-Dollar reserve currency; no more free stuff for Americans.
Now, a lot of Americans might be angry to hear that they won't be getting any more free stuff. Especially those people who have come to believe that the American government owes them free stuff. And there are lots of Americans who believe that.
Here is a partial list of people who are going to be very upset when the Free Stuff Program comes to an end:
- African Americans who expect to receive reparations. No money, cancelled.
- Poor people who expect to receive welfare and medical benefits. No money, cancelled.
- Students who engage in after school activities, such as sports. No money, cancelled.
- Old People who expect to receive expensive medicine. No money, cancelled.
- Farmers who expect to receive money not to grow anything. No money, cancelled.
- Feminists who expect the State to act as husband and father. No money, cancelled.
- Mexican immigrants who expect to receive emergency room medical care. No money, cancelled.
Actually, the government would never officially cancel any of these programs. They will finance everything with increasingly worthless notes. The resulting inflation will make goods and services less affordable. They will then hire good-looking economic commentators who will go on TV to offer explanations that skirt the truth by a country mile.
Old people will call their Congressman and shout: Where is my free stuff? Al Sharpton and Farmers and Mexicans and Moms will march in the streets. But it won't help. Broke is broke, although stealing Iraq's oil may take up some of the slack.
Fortunately, the U.S Government has one last card up its sleeve: the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Rioting and unlawful assembly will be classified as acts of terrorism. Thus, the government has the means to control domestic turmoil, and a convenient foreign enemy to blame for the whole mess. There is only one group that will be protected: Government employees. Their pay and benefits will be indexed to inflation, so they won't take the hit.
For everyone else, it's time to start making TV sets and wicker furniture. I wonder if RCA is hiring?
February 12, 2003