The money reform party logo - a set of scales

The Money Reform Party

Star Woes

Chapter 31

The hard-working citizens of Standardia accumulated a vast hoard of gold. Even the laziest amongst them accumulated a fair quantity, as great nuggets were lying just beneath the subsoil. After just a few days of work, sweat and privation, they all began to drift home with their treasure.

Back in Standardia City, the gold was initially eagerly traded, until those who then had piles of yellow rocks began to look enviously at those who then had the land, the houses, the livestock, the buggies and the food.

After much argument, the arrangement was made that the Great Society of Standardia would sell more land to people in exchange for their yellow rocks. The yellow rocks would then be used to pay off the planet's debts.

When Greenboi arrived at Standardia City Interplanetary Spaceport, he received the, by now, familiar over-enthusiastic welcome. He did not detect that within the cheering was a note of extra-confidence. Confidence was a feature that the Great Society had never lacked.

Governor Stardust greeted him warmly and together they held aloft their hands to receive the applause, screams, whistles and yells of the watching crowd.

On reviewing the planet's finances, the Governor had made a disturbing discovery. The amount of loan that he had expected to take out this year would have been six hundred dollars, but the amount of the repayment this year was going to be six hundred and forty dollars. He remembered... he half remembered the passionate argument of that Tammy Woodsawyer girl a couple of years earlier, she who had then turned up last year with her own private starship.

He could not remember all the details of her argument, but this of paying back more than they would be borrowing had caused him to wonder. He had discussed the situation around the town, surreptitiously amongst the more sober folks. The idea of borrowing more than six hundred and forty was mooted, and dismissed, and they could not pay less than the due interest, so what was to be done?

The niggling feeling crept into the Governor, that that goddam Tammy girl had been right all along. He could not think it likely, her being just a young woman, but no other way of looking at things seemed to add up.

So the plan was decided upon that the Great Society of Standardia would use the gold that its people had collected to pay off the debt. They had tons of the stuff. Some people even used nuggets to decorate their porches. It was shiny and pretty, and it was heavy and useless, but it would buy back their planet.

Except that it would not. Offered a whole ton of it, Greenboi ignored it, he even flinched in horror when a large nugget was held up in front of him.

"So, what is the exchange rate on gold?" asked the Governor, trying to kindle Greenboi's interest.

"I do not know."

"Isn't it important?"

"No. You have the six hundred and forty dollars interest that is due?"

"Sure, but this gold must be worth something."

"Everything is worth something."

"So what will you give us for it."

"I will give you nothing for it. It is heavy and useless. I have no use for it and I have no authorisation to purchase any."

"But it's gold!"

"That is correct."

"You have to give us something for it!"

"No, I do not. Do you wish to borrow some more money?"

"When we have all this gold? We don't need your money, now. We've got this gold."

"Very well. Goodbye."

So the Great Society of Standardia adopted the gold standard. The gold was melted down into coins of equal size which were each given the value of one Standardian dollar. These were then used to buy up all the paper currency in circulation. This totalled $1240, against which the planet owed Barcla the Hoard $3200. Tex Stardust wondered about this. The difference could be made up with gold coins, they had plenty of those to spare, but only if Barcla the Hoard accepted them.

Similar concerns had been on the minds of some of the people of Bacchanalia. Here the newly created planetary currency was also called dollars, but it existed purely as numbers in people's accounts. People were paid the equivalent in dollars for every Imperial Credit Note that they paid into the Bank of Bacchanalia. A further thousand dollars was created into the Commonwealth's account to pay for public works.

Yet with the arrival imminent of their creditor's representatives the amount of Imperial Credit Notes that had been collected amounted to only some 820. The planet needed 1200 Imperial Credits. Two hundred to pay this year's interest and a further thousand to pay off the principal. Sheila Diggerdigger asked everyone to check that they did not have any more, in pockets, down the back of sofas, tucked away for a rainy day. She was sure that there had to be about 1300 in total. She discussed the matter with Howie.

"We still had five hundred of our own left over after buying those surfboards, we borrowed a thousand and paid one interest payment of two hundred, so we should have thirteen hundred left over."

"Come on Sheil, you've been over this a hundred times already."

"I reckon it's that Bruce Brewsterson. He's got the rest, I know it!"

"I don't think he has, Sheil, but come on let's just go and check with him."

"G'day, fellers," called Brucie cheerily, but he could tell by the look on Sheila's face that this would be no social call.

"Brucie, we have to sort out this money before them Western Credit fellers come a-calling. By my calculation we're 480 Credits short."

"Nothing to do with me Sheil. My debts are all paid."

"Nothing to do with you eh, Brucie? Well, sit down a minute and let me tell you what's what."

"No worries, Sheil," said Brucie, rolling his eyes at Howie.

"Now listen here, Bruce Brewsterson. We've got 820 Credits. We have a debt of one thousand Credits that needs two hundred Credits a year to pay the interest. We can service this debt for another four years and then what will happen?"

"I don't know. What will happen?"

"No. I don't know neither, but I can't see us just jogging along nicely as we have been doing. I don't know what will happen, but I can't see your business surviving either. If Western Credit takes over this planet..."

"What? You're kidding me?"

"Okay, so you tell me what will happen? If the Commonwealth of Bacchanalia goes bankrupt, do you think that the Imperial authorities will just say ‘No worries, guys, you just carry on.'?"

"So what's your solution, Sheil?"

"We need another 380 Credits to clear this debt. By my calculation, there should another 480 around somewhere..."

"And you think I've got it?"

"Anyone else you can think of?"

"I've paid my debts off. I've paid for my brewery and refrigeration system, paid my interest and my principal. I'm all square, and I don't have any Credits tucked away."

"Wait a minute," thought Sheila. "You've paid... you've paid what?"

"I paid for the brewery and the fridge and I've paid off the money I borrowed."

"How much have you paid?"

"What altogether?"

"No, what did you spend to buy things and to pay off your interest?"

"The brewery equipment cost me 200, the refrigeration system 120, and I paid, let me see 100, 120... er, 160 Credits in interest."

"Two hundred, plus one twenty, plus one sixty is 480. There's our missing money."

"There you go then, Sheil. No worries."

"No worries?! You arsehole! That means we're buggered."

"Buggered?"

"We can now never pay off that debt."

"Sure we will, Sheil."

"Listen. Let me spell this out. We owe 1000 Credits. We have 820 Credits. Our extra-planetary income is zero. Looks like we're gonna end up as somebody's slaves. That's what happens... yeah, I heard about that somewheres. When you've nothing else to sell to pay off your debts, you end up selling yourself."

"You worry too much, Sheil. Have a beer."

"Unless," thought Sheila, thinking fast. "Unless we can get a message to Kerry and Jerry."

"Kerry and Jerry? How?"

"Through them Western Credit fellers, when they visit next time."

"What ‘Please save us, we're in hock to some debt-slavers'? You think they'll send that message? 'Cos I don't think so."

"It does not have to say that, just something that will make them realise that we have an emergency on our hands."

Next: Chapter 32

Previous: Chapter 30

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