Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pieces of Paper

Pieces of Colored Paper
By Michael Reisig
“Money is the barometer of a society's virtue.” – Ayn Rand
Watching the news last night I was reminded what a profound influence money has on all that takes place on this spinning ball of dirt and water. It appears, without a doubt, that the great motivator for this planet is small, colored strips of paper imprinted with pictures of dead leaders.
We all toil fervently at our various tasks, anxious with anticipation for nothing more than colored strips of paper distributed by our government. We have great structures dedicated to the storage of these strips. Some of us occasionally invade these structures in an attempt to steal these strips. We often kill each other over these colored strips. Entire governments and cultural systems can collapse if they run out of these little pieces of colored paper.
Every once in a while some enterprising individual decides to make their own strips of paper, which causes considerable furor with the ones who claim that privilege. Oddly enough everyone else is quite comfortable with the homemade strips, until they’re told they weren’t made by the right people.
We carry little books containing pages with blank lines in them (that are magically conjoined to strips of paper), and we simply write in arbitrary amounts on those pages, tear them out, and people give us things for the paper. Amazing, isn’t it?
There are many individuals who make their living telling others how they can get more of these strips. Here’s an oddity – people give them strips in order to learn how to get more strips. This apparent contradiction has always puzzled me, because in my experience most of the time you just lose the strips you had and rarely get more from the advice.
There is great respect given to those who have the most strips of paper, but here’s another lingering irony, much of the time the accumulation of those pieces of colored paper have actually made that person less respectable.
We are fraught with religions on this planet, yet the thing we all seem to worship most is strips of paper. In fact, in one of the greatest ironies, the leaders of many religious congregations preach money can’t buy happiness, yet they insist their followers give them strips of paper.
Even more bizarre is the magical electronic creation and storage of these colored strips. We have transcended simple control of pieces of paper and ascended into a God-like mystical realm wherein one or two of the great “pieces of paper” priests say, “Let there be more colored strips!” And, without anything tangible, there are suddenly billions of imaginary strips deposited in the Federal Reserve, or the Treasury. Everyone cheers and is pleased that the Gods have bestowed more strips on the people. Everyone runs out and makes a sacrifice to the Gods by purchasing a new car, or a computer, or a refrigerator.
In closing I would say, what I’ve discovered is that these strips of paper seem to be most significant in their absence. The saddest people I’ve ever seen, and the happiest people I’ve ever seen, were without pieces of colored paper.

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