The Printing Press Exemplum

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Posted 02 Jun 2010 in Uncategorized

‘Print baby, print.’ For decades, that ditty championed the solidarity running the engines of commerce in the United States. Was there a way to verify its validity? In a special Treasury Department facility I visited, large letters on a wall proclaimed the raison d’etre to employees: ‘Print, or die.’

All around me, machinery churned and printed money nonstop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Engineers remained on standby, ready to repair any breakdown in equipment. Paper inventory stacked to the ceiling, left no room to breath. As soon as some inventory was removed from the shelf, replenishment was immediate. The green ink used in the operation, flowed from holding tanks filled to capacity. I checked for exit signs to higher ground, just in case a tank burst. Overall, business looked good. I imagined plans by management to expand operations were in the works.

Never in history had a U.S. Government operation worked with such flawless precision. I told the green man, manning the ink petcock, how much the operation impressed me. I asked if the media was invited to do a TV or newspaper spread. I said Americans considered all government operations to be failures. This one seemed worth broadcasting loudly. The worker replied he was unaware of any future publicity. I found that strange. Was I wrong to think politicians passed up bragging rights for their successes?

I chummed with the ink man and learned more. The printing presses last year churned out tens and twenties. The preferred image on money printed this year was Benjamin Franklin’s picture: the $100 denomination. The ink man heard through the grapevine the money would be invested in the stock market. The Treasury would make sure. I was rocked back on my heels. Huh? The worker said the stock market numbers had to be high, as a deadline loomed. Nov. 2, 2010 was election day. If not, the party in power would be voted out.

After some thought about what the worker said, I concluded he was right. American ideals varied months before election day. Nearing the date, everybody unified. Higher portfolio valuations mattered most. So did higher anticipated benefits. I understood why Benjamin Franklin became the hot centerfold. I commented to the worker that expansion to bigger and better facilities seemed inevitable. Another presidential election was two years away.

On my drive home, my mind begged for understanding. I agreed upward stock market fortunes at election time preferred the party in power. During his term in office, Jimmy Carter presided over a stagnant stock market. He lost his reelection bid. Ronald Reagan’s presidency saw the stock market soar. He coasted to an easy reelection victory.

I cringed thinking it was possible to win an election based solely on stock market fortunes. Campaign issues such as passing expensive legislation paid by increased government debt, paying off your political supporters with expensive goodies, passing financial reform legislation to punish Wall Street’s Wascally Wabbits with ‘make it up as you along’ regulations, orchestrating a failed foreign policy consisting of deserting your friends and appeasing your enemies, fighting a war in Afghanistan believing courageous restraint trumps shooting bullets at your enemies, and blocking illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. with an invisible dog fence would be reclassified to irrelevant by Halloween.

Help was near. The name of a hero, John Liscio, a respected and superb jobs market data analyst, came to mind. I learned from him good job numbers strongly correlated with higher stock prices. I wish John was here. Maybe, he could explain how chronic 10% unemployment and weak job numbers contributed to a higher stock market. Nah, let John rest in peace. I took my cell phone and called Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. I couldn’t get through. Would I be able to get through to anyone?


  1. sye linovitz


    I just finished reading your postings. Wow. It’s as if I was able to enter a secret part of your being. Can’t wait to read the book. Your persual of this writing endeavor has also encouraged me to continue working on a children’s book I started (to explain the Holocaust to young chldren).

    Sye Linovitz

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