The Money Mountain
by Will Wright
Mary was a hard working farmer in the land of Monet. She raised carrots, and turnips, and lettuce, and squash. She had apple trees, and peach trees, and cherry trees too. In the same small town were Larry the carpenter, Shari the mechanic, Perry the artist, Kari the seamstress, Jerry the mechanic, and George the printer.
It was a friendly town, but they had one problem. Mary needed Larry to fix her barn, but Larry didn’t need carrots, or turnips, or lettuce, or squash. He didn’t need apples, or peaches, or cherries either. Larry needed his truck fixed and Mary didn’t know how to do that.
It got confusing giving apples to Perry, who painted a picture for Kari, who made shirts for Jerry, who fixed a truck for Larry, so that Larry would fix Mary’s barn.
That’s when Bonnie banker moved to town.
“You see,” said Bonnie, “all these problems will go away if you just use money.”
“That’s right,” said Bonnie Banker. “With money, you can pay for goods and services instead of trying to trade.”
“Where do we get this money.”
“I will provide it,” said Bonnie Banker.
So all agreed. It was easier to trade money than goods and services, and George the printer was especially happy, because Bonnie Banker paid him to print the money, even though she paid him with some of the money he just printed.
Now Mary, and Larry, and Jerry, and Kari, and Perry, and George had to work just a little bit harder because Bonnie the Banker didn’t produce a useful good or service. She just provided money.
That was all right; money solved problems.
But they still had problems. They disagreed about how much money each good or service should be worth.
That’s when Donny the Judge moved to town.
“You see,” said Donny, “all these problems will go away if you just have a civil court.”
“A civil court?”
“That’s right,” said Donny Judge, “with a civil court, a unbiased person will decide a fair settlement for each dispute.”
“Where do we get this civil court?”
“I will provide it,” said Donny Judge.
So all agreed. They let Donny Judge decide things, instead of wasting time arguing about how much money each good or service was worth. George the printer was happy because Donny Judge hired him to print lots of impressing sounding legal pronouncements.
Now Mary, and Larry, and Jerry, and Kari, and Perry, and George had to work a little bit harder because Bonnie the Banker and Donny the Judge didn’t produce useful goods or services. They just produced money and judgement.
That was all right; money and judgement solved problems.
But there were still problems. People had no idea what Donny Judge would decide before they went to civil court.
That’s when Ronny Politician moved to town.
“What you need,” said Ronny, “is a set of laws.”
“Set of laws?”
“That’s right,” said Ronny Politician, “with a set of laws you will know in advance how Donny Judge will decide his cases, because his guidelines will be written down on paper.”
“Where will we get this set of laws?”
“I will provide it,” said Ronny Politician.
Now, not everyone was sure they needed this set of laws, or another unproductive person in their community, but Ronny Politician produced his set of laws anyway, and George the printer was paid more money that he had printed in his shop, so he could print a set of laws.
Now Mary, and Larry, and Jerry, and Kari, and Perry, and George had to work harder because Bonnie the Banker, Donny Judge, and Ronny Politician didn’t produce useful goods and services. They just produced money, judgement and laws.
That was all right; money, judgement, and laws solved problems.
Then Connie the Lawyer moved into town. She didn’t ask permission, she just moved in, and if anyone wanted Donny Judge to give him or her justice, they had to pay money to Connie Lawyer.
So Mary, and Larry, and Jerry, and Kari, and Perry, and George were working very hard because of Bonnie, Donny, Ronny and Connie…
Tawny moved into town. No one really knew what she did, but she demanded that George print more money, so that she could move that money around. A lot of the money ended up with Ronny Politician.
“What is it Tawny does?” Mary Farmer asked George the Printer.
“I’m not sure what she does,” said George, “but she calls herself a lobbyist.” George couldn’t answer any more questions, because he was very busy printing laws, and legal pronouncements, and bank statements, and petitions, and money – lots and lots of money. Money was pouring out of the back of George’s print shop, and getting swept up by Bonnie, Donny, Ronny, Connie, and Tawny.
It was just as well that George couldn’t answer, because Mary had to get to work. She saw Perry on the way outside George’s print shop. He looked sad.
“What’s wrong, Perry?”
“George won’t print my pictures and poems and stories and photos.”
“Because I don’t have enough money to pay him to do it,” said Perry, “and besides, George is too busy printing money.”
That’s when Mary noticed that even though there was lots of money getting printed, she didn’t have very much of it. Neither did Perry, Kari, Larry, or Jerry.
Mary almost didn’t notice when Lonny the investment broker moved into town. The reason Mary almost didn’t notice was because he only spent time with people with money. The people with money were Bonnie, Ronny, Connie, Donny, and Tawny.
Ronny, Connie, Bonnie, Donny, Tawny, and Lonny hired Larry to build them big homes that they stuffed with money, but they didn’t give him very much for his work.
Ronny, Connie, Bonnie, Donny, Tawny, and Lonny hired Jerry to fix their big cars that cost lots of money, but they didn’t give Jerry very much for his work.
Ronny, Connie, Bonnie, Donny, Tawny, and Lonny hired Perry to fill their homes with art. They sold the art back and forth to each other for lots of money, but they never paid Perry very much for his work.
Ronny, Connie, Bonnie, Donny, Tawny, and Lonny hired Kari to make them wonderful clothes. They called the clothes, high fashion, and valued them for lots of money, but they never paid Keri much for her work.
Ronny, Connie, Bonnie, Donny, Tawny, and Lonny bought lots of food from Mary. They bought far more than they could ever eat, and called it gourmet, which meant it was worth lots of money. But they never paid Mary very much for it.
“How did this happen to us?” asked Jerry.
“They don’t produce anything,” said Keri.
“They don’t help us,” said Perry.
“But they couldn’t live without us,” said Larry.
“I don’t understand it either,” said Mary, “but I don’t like it.”
“I don’t like it either!” said Jerry, and Keri, and Perry, and Larry, all at once.
“It’s all because we needed something to exchange for goods and services,” said Mary. “If we went to George and had him print a different money – money that we control, then they would all go away.”
“YES!” said Jerry, Keri, Perry, and Larry.
And so, together, they went to George’s print shop, but it wasn’t like they remembered it. There were hundreds of people swarming all around it. They were clerks, accountants, tax preparers, and collectors. There were comptrollers, and auditors, underwriters, and risk analysts. There were investigators and regulators, financial advisors, and retirement specialists. They were all so busy doing things that looked important, but as far as Mary, Jerry, Keri, Perry, and Larry could see, they were things that didn’t help anyone.
They moved money; they inspected money; they counted money; the argued about money. They shouted, laughed, cried, and drooled over money. The town was buried under a great mountain of money spewing from George’s print shop, and no matter how much money poured out, all these busy people kept shouting, “print more money!”
Mary, Jerry, Keri, Perry and Larry went into the print shop. There was George, drenched in sweat, feverishly printing money as fast as he could.
“George!” shouted Mary. “You need to stop! You’ll have a heart attack if you keep working so hard.”
“I know,” said George, “but they want more money. I have to print more money.”
“More money!” shouted the people outside. It sounded like there were twice as many people as there were when Mary, Jerry, Keri, Perry and Larry first came in.
“But George,” said Mary. “These people aren’t helping anyone. They don’t make food, or fix cars. They don’t make clothes, or build houses. They don’t create art, or even print. If you stop printing money, they will all go away, and leave us in peace.”
“But then what will we do?” asked George as he shoveled great piles of money out his back door. “We’ll be back to trading like we were before.”
“More money!” shouted the people outside. The shout was so loud that the rafters shook in George’s print shop.
“No we won’t,” said Mary. “We can print our own money, a very small amount of money, just for us – just for people that do useful things.”
“More money!” shouted the people outside and the floors trembled in George’s print shop.
George stopped printing. He looked at Mary, Keri, Perry, Larry, and Jerry. “You’re my friends,” said George. “What you say is a good idea.”
“Yes!” said Mary, Keri, Jerry, Larry, and Perry.
“But I can’t do it,” said George.
And George pointed to a very small pile of money. It was so small that it was hard to see in his print shop full of money. It was a really tiny pile of money, but it was different than all the other money in the print shop, because on this tiny pile of money, was a little label that read, ‘George’s money.’
“You see,” said George. “If I do what you say…
My money will be worthless.”