Posted by: stillironic | August 30, 2010

Dead Presidents as Theater

stacked billsI was thinking about money as theater the other day—I plan to add playwright to my résumé. In my research into money I came upon many profound statements, such as:

“Money is money.”

“Money is already money.”

“We can’t eat money.”

And my own personal favorite, “Interest rates are kind of like mood rings.”

Great dialogue material! I could hear my Willy Loman character uttering “We can’t eat money” and bringing down the house.

Then I came across: “The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.” It was by John Kenneth “Ken” Galbraith, a renowned but dead economist. A perfect line for my Marge Simpson. It certainly reflects Marge’s wacky wisdom. But then she would never use a phrase like “by which”—playwrights are sticklers for authenticity.

So, theme: money is like people; it can be easy or tight. That brings up an issue more playwrights should consider exploring: our monetary policy and who determines the availability of money. We the people through our elected representatives? Our duly elected government?  No it’s something called “the Fed.” I’d found my villain!!!

Federal Reserve

The Villain

Villains are murky characters, whose motives remain hidden till the end. The Fed (aka the Federal Reserve and the Central Bank) fills the bill because nobody can really explain what it is. Ken’s description of it as “an escape from reality” is pithy but adds little in the way of character development. The most important thing about this villain is its status as quasi-governmental. At some point Willy will make the audience gasp in horror with this proclamation: the Fed is government supported but privately managed. (If you leave out mythological and Shakespearean villains, and Glenn Close, I’d be hard pressed to find a more insidious evildoer.)

Cast of characters:

Willy Loman, a drug dealer

Marge Simpson, herself

The Fed, a mute villain

A Greek Chorus

Act 1

Willy: Yo, y’all, Wasup? Us fools be feedin’ the Fed. While a pack o’ rich mothers, drivin’ Benzes an’ playin’ golf at private clubs control our motherf*ckin’ monetary policy. Nomsane?

Marge: I get confused by such…colorful language.

Willy: I got your back.

Marge: You have your monetary policy and your fiscal policy. Fiscal is those gosh-darn government taxes and expenditures, pardon my French. Monetary is what?

Willy: F*ckin’ Interest rates. Flow of cheese into the f*ckin’ economy.

Marge: So it’s those golf-playing rich persons in private jets that control our money supply?

Chorus: Yes, they control how much money’s available. But don’t forget about bankers, who are also rich persons in private jets, who control the banks.

Willy: The reason for all this crap is the motherf*ckin’ Fed’s supported by the motherf*ckin’ government but controlled by private motherf*ckers.

Act 2

Marge: Didn’t we learn in school that most of the money is produced by the U.S. Treasury?

Chorus: As God is our witness, we learned nothing in school. Who produces most of the money? Banks do.

Willy: Mos def. Some smartass, motherf*ckin’ dude once said, “The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.” Nomsane?

Chorus: The mind is repelled. Know what we’re saying?

money shirt

Willy: Let me break it down. Motherf*ckin’ banks lend money out an’ in turn are paid interest on their loans. There’s no f*ckin’ “lending” going on here. Banks aren’t actually movin’ no motherf*ckin’ money into ‘nother account. Nomsane?

Chorus: They’re promising to pay out money they don’t have.

Willy: They’re sending a motherf*ckin’ ‘lectronic notice to the debtor’s bank that says the debtor’s account now has $10 Gs or $500 Gs or whateva motherf*ckin’ G the loan is.

Chorus: “And who’s to stop bankers from texting these messages while playing 18 holes at restricted golf clubs or flying their private jets?

Willy: A wack situation.

Act 3

Marge: Then there’s us, the people, the ones restricted from the fancy golf clubs.

Chorus: We are restricted. Unlike banks, we can’t make money out of air.


Willy: True dat. We take out the motherf*ckin’ loans an’ then hafta pay these mothers real f*ckin’ interest on our debts. The mortgage or whatever motherf*ckin’ check we send ends up removin’ real motherf*ckin’ money from our shitass account. Nomsane?

Marge: So the more we’re in debt, the more money banks make.

Willy: Def. The transaction may be ‘lectronic, but it’s backed by real dollars. Yo, y’all out there, the motherf*ckin’ banks’ transactions aint.

Chorus: They are not. And by law they can lend 90% more money than they have on hand. It’s called fractional-reserve banking.

Willy: Don’t care wha the f*ck it’s called. My ass ‘as never seen the inside of a motherf*ckin’ private jet ‘cept on TV. When I put my Benjamins in a savin’s account, wha the f*ck do I get?

Chorus: Your money never sees the inside of a bank. It’s banded and stacked in gym bags. Inside a “safe house.”

Willy: Shut the f*ck up, you motherf*ckers.

Chorus: Our bad.

Marge: When I opened up the kids’ savings accounts, the bank manager fell all over himself congratulating us. And explaining about the bank’s “generous” policy of interest compounded daily.

Willy: Compound all the f*ck you want. But unless you keep yo’ dead presidents in the motherf*ckin’ bank for 17 million motherf*ckin’ years, you may as well have yo’ money sucked into a motherf*ckin’ black hole.

Chorus: Dead presidents get sucked into a black hole.

black hole

Black hole full of money


Willy: Yo, Marge, something tells me there’s a story behind the day-glo do.

Marge: Willy, you need to “listen to your heart and not the voices in your head.”



  1. That, my friend is motherf*ckin’ genius!

    • You, my friend, made my day! (I figured either it would work well or bomb totally.)

  2. LOL! I’m really, really trying not to listen to the voices in my head. But it’s so hard…

    I first learned about all of this during my affair with Mamie Eisenhower. For some reason, her pillow talk consisted of references to “big money” and “huge cash flow.” When I asked her what she meant, she began babbling incoherently about the Fed or Edgar (whoever he was) and something about Edgar’s closet. The weird thing about Mamie was that she kept calling me “Adlai” even though that isn’t my name.

    • LOL. You’re the third or fourth person to admit to an affair with Mamie Eisenhower. Was it the bangs?

      BTW, have you ever read David Sedaris’s essay, “Parade,” in his book Barrel Fever? Your response reminds me of it.

  3. Mamie got around! Those bangs will do it, every time. The other odd thing was that she kept complaining about Ike’s tight money policy and that he was always out of cash even though there was some kind of major deficit.

    Haven’t read “Parade,” but I’ll be sure to!

    • Ike must have been tight in other ways, too, considering Mamie had so many affairs.

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