One Hundred Sixty Billion Pennies for Your Thoughts

Legal Tender For All Debts Public And Private

There are lots of times when we pay too much for something. The price is said to be exorbitant.* When we feel that the seller has taken advantage of us, we might think of them as the winner of the transaction.

There are situations, though, in which “zero-sum” is the literal tally; both seller and buyer are somehow cheated, and both end up with goose eggs. It is my hope that the Leo/Seid transaction, described in its tawdry detail by ProPublica, will be one of those, and that the democratic thoughts of the majority are not for sale, even for 160 billion pennies.

I’m reminded of a Twilight Zone sermon: The Rip Van Winkle Caper. Think maybe Leo and Seid could effectively play the last two survivors of the caper? I like to think of those two struggling through the desert with too many pennies, not enough water.

The whole episode is worth watching, but if you’ve seen it, this clip’ll serve as a refresher. Please believe me when I say that I am NOT trying to make a case against buying gold as a hedge. But this Rod Serling classic leads me to ponder the situational way we value things and our fellow earthlings.

*exorbitant (adj.)

mid-15c., a legal term, “deviating from rule or principle, eccentric;” from Late Latin exorbitantem (nominative exorbitans), present participle of exorbitare “deviate, go out of the track,” from ex “out of” (see ex-) + orbita “wheel track” (see orb). General sense of “excessive, immoderate” is from 1620s; of prices, rates, etc., from 1660s. Related: Exorbitantly.