Monday, June 27, 2011


A dollar bill lies crumpled to your right, a bible rests righteously to your left. Erase belief from the scene and one becomes a slip of paper and the other a book, but which garners more faith? Lay one upon the altar of the Golden Arches and delivered unto you shall be a paltry burger. Whether or not the Virgin Mary shall be depicted by the sesame seeds of its bun, however, is anybody's guess.

Money equalizes. Money defines.

People control money. Money controls people.

Describe the differences between a one dollar bill and a one hundred dollar bill. Do not use the word worth. Do not use the word value. Do not use the word buy. You may use the word zero.

Money is fiction.

Money is indifferent, yet there is bitter money, kind money and honest money. Money reads the palm of he who holds it.

(shhh--here's a secret: Clench money too tightly and poison will flow between you and it.)

Luck and money are kissing cousins. Everyone wants as much of both as they can get even though either can turn bad on a dime.

One man stands before a vending machine with empty pockets and lips parched. Another just as thirsty stands waist deep in a roomful of quarters and no vending machine.

What is the value of a handful of coins?

* * *


Cleveland Bob said...

Get away
You get a good job with good pay and you're okay

It's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star daydream
Think I'll buy me a football team

Well, get back
I'm all right Jack
Keep your hands off of my stack

It's a hit
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit
I'm in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
I think I need a Lear jet

It's a crime
Share it fairly
But don't take a slice of my pie
So they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a raise
It's no surprise that they're giving none away

Bill said...

Tulip bulbs. I need more tulip bulbs.

Contrary Guy said...

"People control money."
That'd be the Fed.

"Money controls people."
That'd be the politicians.

I wish more people would see the distinction; as they argue about gay marriage and military action in [Arab nation of the week], people are being robbed blind every day by the monetary system. I blogged about money and the markets for years (in between blogging about my drinking habits and misc lame photography). Probably a bit early on the subject... not much inflation in 2005.

Just my... two cents.

Big Mark 243 said...

I listened to that show and I have been slow-brewing a post about it... it has changed the way that I see the world (slightly)...

You are alright EOB. You and the GOAT make quite a pair...

Erin O'Brien said...

Hi gang,

re: money and control, think of someone like Donald Trump or Bill Gates. Think of the guy on the corner with a tin cup.

Trump is defined by his money, so is Gates, but in a different way. Their fortunes feel completely different to me even though I'm a thousand miles from them.

The beggar is at once completely free of money and completely imprisoned by it.

Harry Finch said...

Money is indifferent...

That's the heartbreaking part. I love money but it won't love me back.

Anonymous said...

"Money doesn't talk it swears." Bob Dylan

Erin O'Brien said...

Anon, that quote was part of this post from the onset, but in the end, I cut it as it didn't seem to quite fit.

It is one of my all time favorite quotes.

Anonymous said...

If I found myself in the enviable situation of standing waist-deep in quarters, but with no vending problems, as I don't eat out of machines anyway. I would start pelting people in their heads w/the coins. Because I'm bored. And standing waist-deep in a pool of change.

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Harry Finch said...

Swine - do not deface the money! Those quarters are little cow pies from the Gold Calf. Do not anger the Golden Calf.

Erin O'Brien said...

Hapi, you said my name. Saying my name goes a long way.

Hapi stays!

Kirk said...

Money is meaningless unless the government SAYS it means something. Even if you brought back the gold standard, you would still need a government to SAY the gold meant something. For that matter, the whole concept of private property, particularly land, is meaningless unless the government SAYS it means something. So it's kind of ironic that the same government that gives money so much meaning seems to have, in turn, become a servant to it.

Just saying.

Ms Amanda said...

Ah, Bill, you made me smile! Tulip bulbs indeed.

Ms Amanda said...

Ah, Bill, you made me smile! Tulip bulbs indeed.

Leslie Morgan said...

Money makes prostitutes out of many.

Bill said...

Amanda: I'm glad you smiled. Twice! Not feeling very political today.

Bill said...

Leslie: Or, prostitutes make money from many.

Bill said...

The eagle flies on Friday. Doesn't everyone love payday?

twinkly sparkles said...

So many great songs about money. The O'Jays: "For the Love of Money"

From Cabaret: "Money Makes the World Go Around"

"Money (That's what I want)" by nearly everyone...

Money is also a way to screw up your kids. Did anyone talk about that? The interpersonal family b.s. around money can cause a lifetime of hell and I think is an overlooked motivation that has far-reaching implications. How is this possible? I can understand getting screwed up by many things--food, love, sex, but money? It's not as neutral as it should be, is it?

There's a group in Kent, OH called the Kent Time Bank, making good with transactions that don't involve money. That's just the one I know about...

Once Known as The Badger said...

Funny that no one commented on the $1000 bill. What a great face! That's a bill worth framing.

auctions said...

The lady on the bill looks absolutely hilarious!

Erin O'Brien said...

um ... thanks auctions, I think.

Anonymous said...

...I'm glad you mentioned Trump and Gates. Gates actually BUILT something, although many would argue that he stood on the shoulders of giants to do it. And he has been working very hard to GIVE HIS MONEY AWAY.
...Trump, on the other hand, who was a lottery sperm recipient, has to keep scrambling to promote his reality show, because, despite his pretensions to grandeur, he needs the salary. He has profited by screwing creditors and renters.
Good thread, good topic Erin
Mike R
PS-anyone who thinks gold is a good investment should think about how much water it would have traded for during Katrina

Erin O'Brien said...

The "This American Life" podcast I linked in the post is fascinating if you have the time to listen. Further to what Kirk said, the segment on Brazil gives real perspective to how nebulous the concept of currency is.

As for your songlist, twink, I spent nearly an hour trying to find an embeddable version of "Money" from Cabaret to no avail.

And no comment on the fact that it took TWENTY SOME COMMENTS before anyone made mention of the bill.


Anonymous said...

Erin-I noticed the photo, but thought it was Susan B. Anthony. Traumatised by the memory of those puny quarter-like coins, I was too verklempt to comment
Mike R