Money is Made of Electrons and Neurotransmitters

Bonddad over at DKos has got it wrong about not being able to afford a war on Iran.

Money is not something with a physical limit at the hands of the Bush Maladministration, aided and abetted by their stooges, the US Federal Reserve Bank (the latter, answering to no one except “the market”).

Money today is made of electrons in computers, and those electrons are backed up by the thoughts in the heads of billions of people, with neurotransmitters and even more electrons bopping around inside their heads.

(Crossposted at The Orange Maelstrom of Hillarization)

If you walked deep into the Papua New Guinea jungle and gave a planeload of $100 bills to a resident, they are as likely to use them to wrap grubs as they are to build a rock fortress and post guards.

Money is worth what people think it is worth, and that value is represented by the electronic data records in the modern computer banking system. More paper money can also be printed by the treasury of a nation, or by a good counterfeiter. Any kind of physical token can be labeled with an amount of money: a bearer bond, a piece of metal, a paper check, a huge stone disc; doesn’t matter what it is, as long as people believe what it says and act accordingly.

For the Pentagon, there are a bunch of numbers in a computer database they access. It tells them how much “money” they can spend, and on what. Lately, they can spend just about as much money as they feel like on just about anything, but that is another story. When the electrons in the Pentagon make certain numbers, the Pentagon sends representative electrons out in the form of payments to suppliers for things like bombs, missiles, bullets, planes, ships, etc. No paper money or gold or bearer bonds or anything physical changes hands. It is all just electrons that represent “dollars” (another word for electrons that denominate money).

The Congress puts the electrons in the Pentagon computer. The President tells the Congress what to do, at least, that is what it looks like to this member of the reality-based community. I have not seen anything yet to support the idea that the Congress can or will oppose the President’s desire for electrons.  And, the President has even stated (in other words) that any electrons authorized for other purposes by Congress can be redirected to his Pentagon electron pile if he deems fit. This is by his authority granted unto himself by means of signing statements, which are electrons that are translated into printer commands resulting in marks on a piece of paper.

At this point, one could raise objection and use the word “idea”, but then you would have to tell me what an idea is, where it is, what is it made of…and lo we would have to part company at the place where you agree that it is composed of electrons and neurotransmitters from the scientific perspective…and beyond that lies Plato and his ilk, and that is another story entirely.

What Bonddad might really be aiming at is the fact that, every once in a while, other nations who manipulate their own electron supply and neurotransmitter configurations around other labels for money decide that they don’t want your electrons that much. And their neurotransmitter configurations about your electrons don’t match your idea of theirs.

Worst case, you’d have to start using larger numbers of electrons to represent your dollars. Instead of  0000010 (binary) representing the number of dollars ($2) to buy a loaf of bread, you might need 1110101. Making that number in the database takes a lot more electrons (I won’t get into the memory cell physics, but trust me, it takes more than a couple electrons). Google “Weimar Republic Inflation” for some historical precent.

So I say Bonddad is clueless. We have plenty of electrons to send to the Pentagon for them to blow any country to smithereens. Now, what happens after that, when US citizens want to buy a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas, well I think that matters not one byte to either the Decider Dufus in the White House or the Collaborators in the Congress.


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  1. For my child who went to ER this morning…and no amount of money can replace him, or an Iraqi child, or an Iranian child…we need to stop this needless killing. The question is, how? Nothing is working. Nothing. Nothing.
    That is what gets to me. Nothing is working to stop this senseless killing.

    • Pluto on October 1, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) – With the U.S. government fast approaching its current $8.965 trillion credit limit, the Senate on Thursday gave final congressional approval of an $850 billion increase in U.S. borrowing authority.

    Bonddad is an agent of ignorance at DKos.

    He has single-handedly made the Kossaks financially stupid. In other words — he has turned them into perfect Democrats.

    I really like Bonddad, but he needs some meth or some other dopamine precursor.

  2. This comment:

    (Crossposted at The Orange Maelstrom of Hillarization)

    has me laughing here.

    Hope it goes well for your little one – I can imagine the stress. Best wishes, and some really good stuff in this essay.

  3. first off, Spoon, prayers, thoughts, ((((((((spoon & family)))))))

    By allowing hedge funds/private equity to go offshore and create innumerable, unregulated US$ denominated debt instruments, the FED is turning a blind eye to what is tantamount to a counterfeiting operation.  Doug Noland has written one of the most readable and brilliant essays I’ve found on this:

    Some years back (1999) I proposed the concept of an “Infinite Multiplier Effect.” Having been unleashed from traditional bank reserve and capital requirements (not to mention a gold standard!), contemporary (electronic) finance (certainly including non-banks) had evolved to the point of attaining the potential for unfettered expansion. This potential is now being fulfilled.

    In other words its like creating several mints offshore and just never mind.

    People the world over are catching on to the phenomenal – and innumerable – debt attached to the US$:

    Today, “money” or “liquidity” cannot even be adequately defined, let alone monitored and regulated. Worse yet, in this Credit-induced boom-time euphoria, rabid ideologues (ok, think Kudlow and Laffer) equate free markets in goods and services (the Economic Sphere) with a “free” marketplace in unrestricted finance (the Financial Sphere). Checks and Balances and the Separation of Powers are recognized as absolutely paramount to a healthy democracy, yet these principles are somehow viewed with intense disdain when it comes to modern finance-based Capitalism. To be sure, when exuberance in the private-sector’s capacity to create wealth (and expand finance!) reaches its most fanatical extremes, there will be general antipathy toward any effective governmental monetary control. A great amount of historical precedent has me convinced that unchecked money and Credit pose the greatest risk to free market Capitalism.

    Sadly the people of the US don’t realize any of the politics of the dollar:

    Our Founding Fathers were incredibly wise and masterful statesmen. When it came to the scourge of the abuse of power, unsound money ranked right up there with tyranny. They were hard money men who would be appalled by the current state of monetary affairs, the power concentrated in the hands of the Wall Street “money”-men, and the untenable debt load we owe to foreign governments and financiers. 

    Great diary, Spoon.

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