When money did grow on trees

Here is a little lesson in economics for our Keynesian friends from our man in Britain, Douglas Adams:

He rose to his feet.

“If,” he said tersely, “we could for a moment move on to the subject of fiscal policy …”

“Fiscal policy!” whooped Ford Prefect, “Fiscal policy!”

The Management Consultant gave him a look that only a lungfish could have copied.

“Fiscal policy …” he repeated, “that is what I said.”

“How can you have money,” demanded Ford, “if none of you actually produces anything? It doesn’t grow on trees you know.”

“If you would allow me to continue …”

Ford nodded dejectedly.

“Thank you. Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt the leaf as legal tender, we have, of course, all become immensely rich.”

Ford stared in disbelief at the crowd who were murmuring appreciatively at this and greedily fingering the wads of leaves with which their track suits were stuffed.

“But we have also,” continued the Management Consultant, “run into a small inflation problem on account of the high level of leaf availability, which means that, I gather, the current going rate has something like three deciduous forests buying one ship’s peanut.”

Murmurs of alarm came from the crowd. The Management Consultant waved them down.

“So in order to obviate this problem,” he continued, “and effectively revalue the leaf, we are about to embark on a massive defoliation campaign, and … er, burn down all the forests. I think you’ll all agree that’s a sensible move under the circumstances.”

The crowd seemed a little uncertain about this for a second or two until someone pointed out how much this would increase the value of the leaves in their pockets whereupon they let out whoops of delight and gave the Management Consultant a standing ovation. The accountants amongst them looked forward to a profitable Autumn.

“You’re all mad,” explained Ford Prefect.

“You’re absolutely barmy,” he suggested.

“You’re a bunch of raving nutters,” he opined.

(Douglas Adams – “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe ” – 1980)

I love that story. Reminds me of the day I was debating with a “liberal” (modern usage) when finally I asked why not just print a million dollars for every man woman and child in the US so everyone would be “rich”. The retort was that it was a good idea if we made sure not to give any money to the “rich” people!

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