First, some chemistry; iodine turns black when exposed to starch. So, a lighter ink which contains iodine will turn black when it comes into contact with starch, which is included in the manufacturing process of standard copy paper. When the ink is used on paper that doesn’t contain starch (such as most paper made with cotton fiber instead of wood pulp) the ink will maintain a sort of brownish-yellow color.
If you pay for gasoline with a fifty dollar bill, chances are the cashier will make a mark on it with a counterfeit detector pen. American currency, made of cotton fiber and not including starch, will leave the ink that lighter color. Counterfeit currency printed on regular paper will make the ink turn black.
Interestingly enough, counterfeit currency made with cotton fiber parchment paper, available at every stationary supply store in the country, will pass as genuine under the ink test. The Secret Service, which investigates counterfeiting, doesn’t include the detector pens in their list of recommendations for examining currency.
So, a counterfeit bill passes the test and is accepted by a cashier. Later, the bank where the money is deposited is able to detect that it is fake. The incident makes headlines, and every store in town attempts to take precautions – by buying counterfeit detector pens, which will give a passing grade to upscale resume stationary. A completely pointless test creates a new vulnerability and becomes utterly absurd.
It appears to me that just about everything sold as urgently necessary is, upon closer examination, completely pointless and utterly absurd.
Prairie Meadows Casino was billed as a way to revitalize the economy. It is owned by Polk County, and the revenue was supposed to fund education, roads, and economic development.
Much of the money is used to pay the interest on the tax-exempt bonds issued to build the Iowa Events Center – which, although a lovely facility, employs only a handful of people and isn’t exactly the urban goldmine that developers always claim to have in their hip pocket.
I haven’t been to a casino in years and don’t intend to go back. Gambling used to be a risqué vice; now it is nothing more than another way to feed the voracious wolves.
Speed cameras should go in this category as well because they don‘t stop speeding nor do they protect the public. I was on the interstate in Cedar Rapids a while back, and everyone around me was driving above the speed limit. Upon approaching the sign indicating a traffic camera, they all slammed on the brakes very hard. After passing the camera, they sped up again.
Furthermore, I could drive down that stretch of highway drunk, while sending a text message, and using hallucinogenic drugs- but as long as I am not speeding, the camera is useless.
Government at all levels promises to build roads and develop your economy. What actually happens is that they tax you, fine you, and monitor you – and the roads are still terrible. Infrastructure projects have become the best Trojan Horse to sneak in a tax increase- actually go and take a look at the budget of your local government. How much of your tax money goes to bond interest for infrastructure projects?
Iowa Title Guaranty, a part of the Iowa Finance Authority, was created in 2001. You see, in Iowa, when you buy a house it is traditional to have a lawyer review a title abstract and write an opinion about it. In every other state, you just buy title insurance, and when the big investment banks started jamming mortgages together into mortgage-backed securities they got used to having a standardized title insurance policy along with their mortgages.
They simply didn’t know how to deal with an attorney’s title opinion letter. Pity. It looked like Iowans might be denied the joy of subprime mortgages, and would have to make do with conforming loans.
But, not to worry! Here comes the state legislature with Iowa Title Guaranty, offering what the big investment banks were used to seeing. Oh, the joy of it; Iowans would have access after all to mortgages with bad terms, adjustable rates, and given without regard to lending standards. Being suckered into bad loans is practically a human right, after all. Title Guaranty – Completely pointless, and utterly absurd.
Even jobs can be completely pointless and utterly absurd. Anything involving the “green economy” springs to mind. Being paid by the government to build solar panels that will never be installed, for instance. Sure, a few people earned a few paychecks before Solyndra folded, but they produced absolutely nothing of value for the economy as a whole.
The Federal Reserve was billed as a way to avoid economic crises and facilitate greater wealth. In the end, it facilitated the largest fiscal and trade deficits in human history. Since 1990, we have run aggregate trade deficits in excess of eight trillion dollars, which is interesting because back in 1990 the M2 supply was only three trillion dollars. Either we ran out of currency (three times) or we were paying for imports with inflation.
When the Byzantines wanted to buy Chinese silk, they had to sell glass and other wares, or else they would have run out of gold. (They ended up stealing silk worms and producing it themselves). We can buy foreign goods by doing nothing more complicated than printing money.
Politicians offer to solve this problem with government action – either stimulus spending or trade wars – but never with stable currency policy, making any of their efforts completely pointless and utterly absurd.
I believe that our future as a nation will come down to whether or not we can successfully identify the completely pointless and utterly absurd things swirling around in our government, our economy, our businesses, and our culture. This will involve a great deal of complaining, which fortunately is the only real talent I possess. Now, to find a way to earn tons of money while doing it.
About the Author
Mr. Waechter is an attorney and a recent graduate of Drake University.
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