Shut up and mint the coin

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Finance is just a fancy meme.

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a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

It’s time to mint the coin, sickos!

If you have not been paying attention to the most tragically online sectors of the financial internet, here’s a summary: the government is about to grind to a halt — yes, again — to argue over the national debt. But there is a way out, and it’s been known for years. What we do is mint a $1 trillion platinum coin.

Since 2003, there’s been an increasing level of dumbfuck nonsense from our elected officials around the debt ceiling. The “debt ceiling” is a limit on government spending that was instituted in 1917. When there’s a Democrat in the White House — and sometimes, even when there isn’t — politicians decide that playing with the debt ceiling is a great way to get their pet policies passed. These buffoons love playing chicken with the idea of defaulting on our government debt! Why they think this is cute or funny, I don’t know, but in 2003, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, and now, we’ve had to sit through a bunch of farce about the debt ceiling.

If we hit the ceiling, the US may default on our debts, which can potentially fuck up the entire world economy. I strongly suspect the  “productive” talks going on right now are basically cosplay so the markets won’t freak out. But if we default, anyone who has a 401(k) retirement account is going to see their retirement go up in smoke.

There are theoretically adult-sounding ways to revise the law to fix this problem, but I invite you to contemplate our elected officials. Nobody in Congress appears capable of even pretending to act like an adult. So in that spirit, I present to you the coin, which is cool as hell.

What happens is that the US Treasury mints a platinum coin and deposits it at the Federal Reserve, and Congress is moot. We know the coin is legal; basically, a law passed in 1997 gives the Treasury full unilateral authority to mint platinum coins of any kind, for any reason. (This is separate from the process of increasing the supply of money, which originates with the Federal Reserve.) Former head of the US Mint Philip Diehl has said it can be done — so I think the main objection is that it comes from people who have been ruined by the internet.

That’s right, the platinum coin idea in its current form came from the comment section of a blog called Pragmatic Capitalism in 2011. The terminally online have been talking about it every time we’ve had a debt ceiling crisis ever since.

In theory, it is not a great idea to meme policy into existence. In practice, if we don’t do it, the debt ceiling standoffs never end. There are serious grownups who have written policy papers about the coin, but I am not focused on that. If you want a serious case for minting the coin, here’s one. Me? I am focused on (1) the coin is cool and (2) the debt ceiling debates suck.

Plus, think about the designs we could put on it, especially if we, for instance, make it roughly the size of a hubcap and maybe also make it glow in the dark. I don’t see why the Canadian Mint gets to have all the fun.

The coin is an idea whose time has come. Let’s shitpost our way into solvency. It’s time to mint the coin and be legends.

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