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While Joe the Plumber Was Sleeping
by David Arthur Walters Saturday, Nov. 01, 2008 at 12:47 PM South Beach

COMMENTARY: The Money Supply Disappeared!

If all the money in the world disappeared because of a total financial meltdown while Joe the Plumber was sleeping, everything else would still be there when he woke up. His wife and three kids, their house and everything in it, including the dirty dishes in the sink and the broken dishwasher and the nudie magazines and the drugs hidden in his oldest sonís closet, would still exist, along with the entertainment center in the living room among other things. The nine credit cards in his bulging wallet, his gun collection in his den, and the case of Budweiser in the refrigerator would still be intact. His beat-up van littered with tools and lengths of pipe and fixtures and other parts would still be in the driveway. His suburb and its infrastructure would still exist, and so would the beloved leaky pipes and clogged drains everywhere. His bank and other buildings along the streets downtown would still be there, as would the computers and the Internet. And all else but money in his town, state and country would remain, including Wall Street in New York and the White House and Capitol in Washington, and the institutions of Main Street as well, not to mention everything else in the peopled world.

Yes, everything besides money would still exist, but Joe the Plumber and everyone else would be in one hell of a fix without paper currency and bank credits to exchange for goods and services and to pay debts. Of course everyone might resort to barter, to trading things and services, but the inefficiencies of doing so would bring trade as we know it to a virtual standstill in comparison to what it had been before, and chaos would likely ensue pending the advent of a savior.

As for the debt, how would it be paid without money? Joe the Plumber might hand his house over to the bank instead of defending against foreclosure with his pump-action shotgun and his assault rifle, but what would a bankrupt bank without employees want with his house? And how would he pay and the I.R.S. collect the tax, penalties and interest on half the self-employment income he had forgotten to report for the three years audited?

Now Joe the Plumber is no financier, but he dreamed up a solution to the total financial meltdown: Send out truckloads of money to replace the missing currency, giving everyone ten grand to start with, restore the financial system of debits and credits from the mirror servers in nuclear-attack-proof bunkers where it was backed up, and proceed with business as usual. After all, the meltdown was not his fault, for he was sleeping when it happened, so why should he suffer for it? He knew very well whose fault the annihilation of money was: it was the fault of the greedy They who run Wall Street and the Government. If They do not replace the money, then They must be liquidated by the denizens of Main Street, the honest tradesmen and businessmen like himself, and replaced by a trustworthy set of They.

As it turns out, Joe the Plumber was just having a nightmare: he had only dreamed that he had awakened to a moneyless world. When in fact he awoke, he jumped out of bed with a frightful look on his face, grabbed his wallet off the dresser, and found therein, safe and sound, $800 in hundreds and fifties, and $22 in small bills. He then hastened downstairs to check the hiding place behind certain bricks in the basement wall: still secreted therein was the quarter million he had saved in cash since he had received the I.R.S. audit notice over a year ago, so he could finally get a license and open up a legitimate plumbing business. He was doubly glad he had set up this home savings fund, as he would have lost $150 thousand of it had it been in his bank when the bank was federalized by the FDIC. As it were, he only deposited enough in the bank account to pay the usual bills.

Joe the Plumber breathed a sigh of relief, went upstairs to the kitchen and cracked open a Bud for breakfast. The scary news about the liquidity crisis must have gotten to him Ė Halloween was coming up. No problem, he thought, the money plumbers will fix that, and I shall have plenty of leaks and clogs to fix myself. What he was genuinely worried about, and for good reason, was taxes, especially on incomes of $250,000 or more.

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