Thursday, October 09, 2008

A modest economic proposal

Administration officials, Wall Street executives, media pundits, average people in the street, and everyone else is complaining about the unavailability of business credit these days what with the shocking, shocking revelations of people playing fast and loose with other peoples' money. I ask, why not monetize scrip that everyone probably already has, in the form of board game money?

For instance, Milton Bradley's Game of Life has always had an extensive collection of scrip, including stock certificates and promissory notes. The 1960's era set had $100000 bills bearing the face of trusted television personality Art Linkletter. The Treasury could simply declare some or all of these bits of paper to be backed up by the full faith and credit of the United States Government, and there would be an immediate infusion of cash as people would unearth their bounty hidden in their attics and basements and start using them as instruments of monetary exchange.

The Promissory Notes are interesting as they are essentially debt obligations made between the player and whoever was playing the banker (in my case, this would often be my cousin Estelle). Perhaps we should reserve these for small businesses to replace the lost short-term credit opportunities that are besetting them now, in the expectation that once the system has been re-primed, they will be able to make good on the note plus interest when it matures, same as if they had obtained funds in the commercial paper market.

Some might complain that the allocation of this windfall would be unfair, purely at the whim of whether a person had packrat tendencies or not. My reply is that it is certainly less unfair than the TARP program, which gives money to the some of the very people who made the crisis as bad as it is, and just about nothing to the average citizen boardgame-playing or not.

If the amount of stimulus is too little, the Treasury Secretary could go on to phase two of the program, which would monetize Monopoly cash and perhaps also the little metal tokens they used to package in the box. One hopes that the government would not have to resort to a third round involving Scrabble tiles and the like.

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