Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thoughts from Our Nation's Capital

I just returned from spending the weekend with a visiting aunt in Washington, DC. A very enjoyable trip indeed, it also gave me some pause for reflection. Two images in particular stand out in my memory .. and my phone memory too (ha, I did use my phone's camera after all!)

The first image is from the Korean War Veteran's Memorial. I loved the words "defend a country they never knew and a people they never met". People draw comparisons between the present war in Iraq with the failed war in Vietnam, but never consider that American "adventurism" is the reason the South Korean nation is strong and her people enjoy freedoms, unlike their starving brethen across the border. (Just to use per-capita GDP as a comparison, the Southerns' produce about $22,600 versus $1,700 for their communist compatriots)

American adventurism was often ridiculed, and sometimes justifiably, but we should never forget the ethical obligation we have to act to defeat dictators.

The other image that struck me was an exhibit from the Smithsonian Castle. (sorry for the poor image) These are samples of US currency notes (fiat currency as it is called). Why did it strike me? It reminds us that there is nothing sacrosant about the dollar. Indeed, the shells to the bottom right were valid currency at one time, just that they weren't backed by the famous "full faith of the US Treasury". Keep that in mind the next time you hear this nonsense of how the Chinese are fixing their currency, or what the underlying value of the US dollar is. A currency is a promissory note, that's it, nothing more, nothing less (which is why there's a school of thought which believes that money is gold and nothing else, which is interesting until you realize that if the value of a gold coin can fluctuate as significantly as has been the case, the whole store of value argument in a truckload of BS!)

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