Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Letting Go of Money

I am normally a cautious person. I wait for the outline of the little man to turn from red to white before I cross the street at a crosswalk. I have never tried to open a beer bottle with my teeth. I wear a helmet when I ride my bicycle. But today I decided to take a risk. I decided to let go of some money.

The Republicans in Congress have been telling us how dangerous it is to let go of even a little bit of one's money. Their opposition to even modest tax increases on wealthy people is based on the idea that calamity could strike if people had to part with money. The entire economy could be destroyed. The national security could be devastated. Not only would jobs not be created, but vast numbers of people would be thrown out of work, as the capitalist system crumbled under the burden of fair distribution of wealth.

I don't generally subscribe to Republican economic theory, but their warnings about letting go of money have become so pervasive that, as I prepared for my experiment in letting go, I was scared. I didn't want to be responsible for the destruction of our American way of life.

And what of the personal consequences? We have all been warned that if we let go of any of our money, we might live out our lives in poverty, and people may stop caring about us. There is, sadly, ample evidence supporting that Republican warning.

With trepidation, I prepared for the experiment. I took all the precautions I could think of. I made sure my will was up-to-date. I paid the bills that were on my desk, so as not to be any more of a burden on my survivors than necessary. I told my wife I loved her.

Not wanting to take any unnecessary risks, I removed just a single dollar bill from my wallet. I held it over my head. I took a deep breath, and I let go. Time seemed to stand still as the dollar drifted down to the ground. I stood staring at it where it landed. The Earth did not open up. I look skyward. No dark clouds formed. Lightning did not strike me down. The birds continued to sing. I had survived, and the world was intact!

In the interests of scientific rigor, I acknowledge that one experiment is not sufficient. The experiment must be repeated by others, under other conditions. Most importantly, it must be performed by some rich people, even some millionaires and billionaires. But I feel I have done my part. I took the risk. And now I turn my findings over to others to see if they will get the same result

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