For your morning rile-up, you might enjoy this essay Christopher Casey called Only Criminals Use Honest Money:
…Since money is banned in prisons, the historical use of cigarettes by prisoners as money avers that money requires alternative value (i.e., value apart from its use as money) and proves that our present system of fiat currency (and fractional-reserve banking) is eventually doomed.
Prisoners exchange cigarettes for sex, drugs, gambling, and the killing of other inmates (all other recreational activities being provided free of charge by taxpayers). The cigarettes hold alternative value through their direct consumption (smoking).
And what happens to the experiment when cigarettes are banned? Like a free market moving from a gold to a silver standard, prisoners switch to the next best good that possesses the qualities demanded of money: portability, durability, homogeneity, and divisibility.
The article “Mackerel Economics in Prison Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets” published in the October 2, 2008 issue of The Wall Street Journal, revealed the new monetary system in prisons: cans of mackerel, or “mack” in prison nomenclature. Just as a various goods (e.g., gold, silver, copper, rice, salt, peppercorns, large stones, etc.) have long competed in the marketplace to be the standard of currency, so mack had to fend off books of stamps, PowerBars, and cans of tuna.
Fiat money does not exist in prison. Prisoners do not dye sheets of paper green and attempt to circulate them as money. No inmate would accept this as money, not even if the penal equivalent of a Bretton Woods agreement existed between the toughest gangs.
We could think of a few rejoinders to this, such as the fact that prisoners have a very good reason not to be trusting of each other. And there’s no neutral authority saying to the prisoners that they MUST accept that green-printed paper as remuneration for shanking the guard. But we’ll just let those slide for now.
The intro also has a great swipe at establishment thinking:
I recently had surgery for appendicitis. Upon seeing me lying in a hospital bed, none of my visitors praised the bed’s healing power in curing my illness. All of them understood that although my condition was eliminated at the same time that I lay in bed, lying in bed does not cure disease. They understood that two events occurring simultaneously can be coincidental and unrelated, directly causal, or linked by a third variable or sets of variables.
Obviously, my visitors were not economists or business journalists. Had they been, the media would have quickly been praising bed rest as a cure for appendicitis. Had they been, the media would have quickly been praising bed rest as a cure for appendicitis. That is not far-fetched. Business sections of all newspapers contain such convoluted and illogical sentiments in their articles with headlines such as “Higher Oil Prices Inflame Inflation.” Sometimes they even present analogies without even mentioning the associated theory, such as warning that the economy may become “overheated.”
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