Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Money is Fungible

Last year for my birthday my mother gave me a check, with the admonishment “Don't put this in the bank. Use it to treat yourself to something nice.” Of course, the check went straight into the bank account. I did treat myself to something nice (some books) but I paid for that with a credit card and paid the credit card with another check. Did that check that I wrote use the same dollars form the check she gave me? Who cares? Money is fungible.

Money is what? Fungible. It's not only fun to say, it's true. Something is fungible if individual units of that thing are interchangeable. So a United States ten dollar bill can be exchanged for any other United States ten dollar bill (barring the fact that a numismatist might favor one over the other). Or to put it another way, there's no way to tell whether the money my mother gave me was the money used to buy the books, and it doesn't matter!

Other things are fungible as well. Gold, oil, wheat, electrons – the list is endless (well, long at least). The fun part about fungibility (yes, it's a real word) is how you can use it to manipulate public opinion to support legislation.

Let's take schools, for instance. If you go to public school, the state pays all your expenses. Teachers' salaries, books, a building, perhaps a nice library, playground, etc. are all paid for by the tax payers. Catholic schools perform the same function as public schools and have the same expenses, but the state doesn't fund them. Why not? The specter of “separation of church and state” rears its ugly head (oh there will be more blog posts on that topic). Since money is fungible, if the state gives one dollar towards teacher's salaries, part of that dollar might somehow wind up paying for a crucifix for a classroom, and we can't have that.

So let's accept that money is fungible and get on with our lives. But wait! According to the Capps amendment to our current health care bill, we can have abortions covered, but they will only be paid for by the money from premiums. Your tax dollars won't be the dollars that pay for that. All of a sudden, money has become un-fungible (and no, that's not a word) when it suits the agenda of politicians.

This week there will be an important vote (hopefully) on this bill. Please call or write your representatives immediately and tell them abortion is not health care, and we don't want to pay for it. Tell them to support the Stupak amendment. You can find you representative's contact information by going to http://www.house.gov/ and entering your zip+4 code in the top left. A phone call would be best, but at least visit http://usccb.org/action and send them an email. Do this now. We are out of time to act on this. Thanks.


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