American dollars! There was once a time, boys and girls, when everyone in the world wanted them. Unlike everyone else’s dicey, unstable currency, featuring crumpled bills of bizarrely large denominations (100,000 lira, 20,000 forints, 500 rubles) which might buy a beer and a pack of cigarettes, dollars were solid, predictable, and immutable. Other countries had pictures of mustachioed dictators on their bills, but not us. Our featured genuinely great men who had created, nurtured, and defended our American democracy. Washington, Lincoln, Jackson, Franklin-and we knew, as we proudly spent our ever-coveted dollars in foreign lands, that they’d be proud of the country that had chosen to so honor them. Things change.
In a Spanish tourist town (Marbella), dollars are not exactly sought after-quite the opposite. Every business offered payment in dollars had the same response-we don’t take ‘em. They don’t even offer you a lousy exchange rate-they just don’t accept dollars, period. Like the unfortunate citizens of Zimbabwe, or Argentina, or any of a dozen countries afflicted with hyperinflation and/or feckless governments, we’re pariahs.
So you scramble. You use ATMs, you beg at banks, you go to the moneychangers, and gratefully accept what they offer. Welcome to a new world, where the American dollar is just a green piece of paper, and Americans are, like Icelanders, just people who had everything going for them…and blew it.
Maybe we need to rename our country-shall we call it CitiLand? Or Greenspanistan?
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