The Canadian dollar, or "Loonie" (more on that later) made the news today as it dropped below 72 cents US. A lot of this has to do with the price of oil. The Canadian dollar is a petrodollar. The economy is based on exporting raw materials - oil, lumber, and electricity - mostly to the United States. As the values of these commodities, particularly oil, rise and fall, so does the Canadian dollar.
But I think there is something else at play here. Canadians are far too playful with their currency. They don't treat it with any respect or sobriety, and as a result, it has become something of a joke.
Canadian bills switched to plastic a few years back, and while the idea has some technical merit (the money launders better and lasts longer) it does make the currency look like, well clown money. It comes in a riot of colors, is shiny and cheap-looking and has pictures of all sorts of obscure politicians (Canadian politicians, so I am being redundant here), the queen of another country, or just random people or even animals. When you put a beaver on your money, well, you simply are not taking it seriously enough.
As a result, you end up with this wallet full of unfoldable Monopoly money and when you spend it, you don't even believe you are paying with real money. They make the money a joke, and you can't take it seriously.
And the colors. Bright primary colors across the rainbow - the sort of thing you'd see at a children's daycare center. No sobering black and green, but reds, blues, and even purple!
Compounding this is Canadian coinage. Years ago, in one of those moves that Socialist countries usually engage in for "practical reasons" they decided to do away with the dollar bill or even two dollar bill and issue $1 and $2 coins.
America has resisted this trend, as it tends to be inflationary. Once the dollar is a coin, you start to think of it as a quarter - something you'd buy a coke with, and not an entire box of off-brand cereal at the Dollar Tree. Coins are something you throw in a penny jar, not something you carefully accumulate and count.
Canadians routinely mock and vandalize their own currency!
To make matters even worse, Canadians once again succumbed to their urge to put animals on their money and put a loon of all things on the one-dollar coin. It was quickly dubbed the "Looney" which is a slang word for people who are insane, which maybe is a reflection of their monetary policy.
Before long, the two-dollar coin came out and Canadians, in utter disrespect for their own money, decided to call it a "toonie" which sounds like the name of a partially animated Steven Spielberg movie.
But their coinage heresy goes further than that. In an act of ultimate disrespect for their own money, they decided to eliminate the penny and just round everything off to five cents because, "it's less hassle, man!" Less hassle? Or just a tacit admission that your currency isn't worth counting anymore? Centuries of tradition tossed in the toilet for the sake of expediency.
As have noted before, money is just an idea, not a physical thing. It is a placeholder - a medium of exchange - a way of putting arbitrary values on things, so that disparate things can be compared in value. Money allows us to compare the value of an automobile to an hour's labor or an order or french fries, or a nuclear power plant. It certainly beats the shit out of bartering.
As such, people have to have faith in their money, and they want to take it seriously. As I noted in earlier postings, in every action-adventure movie, there is always a scene where the villain (or hero) opens up an aluminum briefcase full of money. And what kind of money is in the briefcase? Euros? Filthy Canadian Lucre? Hell, no! It is chock full of neat stacks of freshly printed Uncle Benjamins. The USA $100 bill, the most deadly serious currency on the planet!
Our money is serious money. Largely monochrome, filled with detailed engraving filigrees from the 19th Century, along with mystical symbology - fucking disembodied eyes in flying pyramids, for chrissake! It doesn't get more mystical and awe-inspiring than that masonic shit, nosirree!
We celebrate our masonic heritage!
Now imagine the suitcase above filled with odd-sized Euros or worse yet, Canadian Clown Currency. Does it have the same effect? Do you want to launch a complex "caper" to steal it? Of course not. Because it isn't worth stealing, at 72 cents on the dollar. Besides, it's a lot less hassle to just go on the dole and wait for your medical marijuana in your government-subsidized housing, right?
Sadly, their are forces at work here in America who are trying to undermine our own currency. They want to adopt the crazy policies of our neighbors to the North. They want to eliminate the penny, print out currency in wild colors, change the money and put new people on it. Next thing you know, they'll be trying these plastic bills!
Already we have had to rebuff several attempts to replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin. Americans, wisely sensing some sort of communist plot, declined to adopt the dollar coin, particularly since it looked so much like a quarter. If you're going to give me a dollar coin, buddy, it had better have some heft to it, and some dead President on one side, not an Indian guide lady!
This is a coin with heft! You throw this at someone and it would hurt them. And it doesn't get more serious than Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower, nosiree! He looks like Julius Ceasar! Note that the American Eagle is the only animal suitable for coinage. Leave the bears and beavers in the woods where they belong!
For whatever reason, the dollar remains the currency of choice around the world today. For activities legal and illegal, the mighty US Dollar still reigns supreme. And no, the bitcoin isn't about to take over anytime soon. Ask any international drug cartel if they'll accept loonies. Odds are, you'll end up decapitated.
A cache of billions from a Mexican drug lord's house. Note the proportion of American greenbacks to lesser currencies. Why even bother counting the tiny piles of Canadian money in the front?
We should resist the urge to put the USA on a Clown Currency standard. It is bad enough we have changed our currency twice in the last two decades - making the pictures larger and adding more security features. Going to odd sizes, plastic, wild colors or - heaven forbid - pictures of animals (other than the American Eagle, of course!) is just a one-way trip to Socialism.
The Canadian economy is poised to enter a free-fall, with the price of oil dropping below $35 a barrel. Perhaps if they went to a more sobering currency, they could stem the tide? Just a thought!
NOTE: The sarcasm light is ON. Or is it?