During my years working in the marketing industry, I must have heard one particular joke about a proverbial dog food company a dozen times.
The joke goes that a large pet food company had just created a new brand of dog food. The CEO, eager to spread the word, called the marketing director into his office. “I want this dog food featured in every newspaper in America!”, he declared. “And on billboards across the country! And on radio and TV! Spare no expense promoting this new dog food!”
And so the marketing mavens did their thing. They bought newspaper ads from coast to coast. They arranged television and radio ad buys. They even got a celebrity endorser. The company spent a fortune promoting what was supposed to be the latest and greatest dog food the world had ever seen.
A few months later, sales of the new dog food were flat. The CEO called the marketing director into his office to demand answers.
“Did you hire the PR firm I told you to?”, he asked. “What about that ad agency; did they run our commercial during the Super Bowl?” He quizzed the marketing director for what seemed like hours, recounting every detail of his plan. The failure of his highly anticipated dog food was a disaster
“What could it be?”, the CEO asked.
Exhausted, the marketing director puts down his charts and graphs, sets aside the file folders and case studies, and pauses. “It’s the damn dogs, sir. They just won’t eat it.”
Since the idea of “government” was born, governments have used their powers to avoid the very situation encountered.
While it’s hard to get dogs to eat what they don’t want to, people have proved to be very different when given the right (dis)incentive.
You can’t force a dog to eat food it doesn’t like by putting a gun to its head. But you can force people to succumb to the will of an appointed ruling class by doing so. After awhile, the people even forget about the gun that was put to their head and move on. Their responses to the gradual reduction in their liberties actually become somewhat Pavlovian.
Government has mastered the art of training its citizens to salivate any time it rolls out a new freedom-sucking initiative. Citizens have been so well conditioned to accept the ongoing expansion of government that they believe it’s good for them.
Never mind that it all started when someone put a gun to their head.
In the United States, businesses must accept “legal tender” as payment. That doesn’t mean they have to accept paper currency – as evidenced by almost every airline’s now-cashless cabin, for example – but they must accept payments denominated in dollars. You can thank the Federal Reserve system for that.
Long ago, the government accepted tax payments in denominations other than fiat currency. Namely, you could pay your taxes in gold or silver. Eventually, it became too cumbersome and the tax authorities decided to look a gift horse in the mouth and started demanding payment in fiat currency.
After all, it’s only thanks to the power of government run amok that pieces of paper with no intrinsic value became a state-mandated means of exchange. While merchants in ancient times sometimes chose to simplify their transactions by using paper or similar instruments rather than precious metals, no one forced them to accept such worthless artifacts from the general public.
Today, government has gotten dogs to eat the proverbial inedible dog food. Every day, the sun rises and billions of people go about their days trading in currencies dreamed up by bureaucrats in a government lab somewhere. Few of them ever give thought to the idea that nothing is backing up the money they’re carrying. Fiat currency, stale as it may be, has still passed the human “sniff test” in a way the bad pet food couldn’t among animals.
Meanwhile, currencies like Liberty Dollar and Liberty Reserve are branded as outlaw artifacts and shut down by the government masters. Things have gotten so upside down that things backed by gold or other real stores of value are made out to be kooky. Why have any real value when we can depend on scraps of paper and linen?
Humans are the only animals that spend time over-thinking and rationalizing away their primal instincts against what they once instinctively knew was a bad idea. Prize-winning economists and well-educated government bureaucrats will spend hours telling you how they’ve solved the intrinsic worthlessness of fiat currency. They’ll tell you how smart they are; much smarter than the self-aggrandizing idiots of the past whose hyped fiat currencies crashed and burned.
At the end of the day, though, they’re just selling a new brand of bad dog food.
Only they’ve spent centuries training the dogs to wag their tails with glee every time their food dish has less, and less, and less food in it.
I can almost visualize an assembly line in the style of “1984”, where we all sit on conveyer belts until it’s our turn to be given the rotten dog food. Like zombies, we proceed along, waiting for our turn to get the rancid stuff dropped into our mouths by the ruling class who has long controlled our thoughts. We’ll eat anything they feed us.