I love Terry Pratchett. He is one of my favorite authors, due to mainly to his witty brilliance. As I have been pondering this current economic recession of ours, I decided to re-read his 2007 tale of monetary policy: Making Money.
And I found some rather lovely gems on the nature of money and banking. Here are a few of my favorites:
Conversation between Mr. Bent and Moist von Lipwig
(Mr. Bent) “I would prefer to say that it is a tacit understanding that we will honor our promise to exchange it for a dollar’s worth of gold, provided we are not, in point of fact, asked to.”
(von Lipwig) “So…it’s not really a promise?”
“It certainly is, sir, in financial circles. It is, you see, about trust.”
“You mean, trust us, we’ve got a big expensive building?”
Conversation between Topsy (née Turvy) Lavish and Moist
(Topsy) “Unfortunately, people have rather lost their faith in banks.”
“Because we lost their money, usually. Mostly not on purpose. … My late husband was a man who loaned unwisely, so we must carry bad debts and out results of questionable decisions.”
And, later on in this conversation, Topsy points this out: “My late husband always said the only way to make money out of poor people is by keeping them poor.”
Moist figuring out that currency doesn’t actually need tangible backing
“The city says: In exchange for gold you will have all these things. …It turns worthless gold into…everything. … What did you need to back the currency? You just needed the city. The city says a dollar is worth a dollar.”
And, finally, one of my favorite exchanges in the whole book. This pretty much sums up our entire financial system.
“Master, I protest! Banking is not a game!”
“Dear Mr. Bent, it is a game. And it’s an old game, called ‘What can we get away with?’”
Go read the book. It’s not Pratchett’s best work, but it’s still good.
image source: www.terrypratchettbooks.com