November 5, 2008
Last night, your author spent a couple of hours at the US Election Night Party. This was in the Renaissance Hotel Brussels, and organised by an array of organisations including Democrats Abroad and The Bulletin.
Personally, the party wasn’t for me. There were far too many people crammed into the space available. Far too many. If anything had gone wrong, there would have been mayhem because it was almost impossible to move in some areas. For me at least, this is not nice.
But I digress…
The event, as with so many others in Belgium, did not use cash. Upon entering the hotel, visitors needed to purchase mini dollar ‘tokens’ with which food and drinks could be purchased.
This system of tokens at large events is incredibly common here in Belgium. And I, for one, have no idea why.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, people wanted to trade goods (probably foodstuff) and services (labour) with each other. But they did not all want the things that other people were trading. Trades would need three or more parties to reach an outcome that could be agreed upon.
So these people invented money. It was tradeable, relatively small, and meant that trades became far quicker and easier. People liked it. This early money was probably in coin form and would have been made from bronze or copper. As the years passed, silver and gold would then be used. In time, gold would be represented by paper being backed by gold – so that people did not need to carry all that heavy metal around with them.
It seemed to work as a system. How do I know?
Because many hundreds of years later, we still use a variant of the system.
So why does every party organiser in Belgium feel the need to reinvent money by creating their own worthless – and usually grossly overpriced – tokens? And then, even worse, insist on only selling these tokens in multiples or 5 or 10?
Is this just an organised form of event theft?
Is Belgium this backward economically that they are yet to realise how useful the currency we already have is?
Is this a message about their opinion of the euro?
Is there some secret cabal of printers that need the extra business provided by all this needless printing?
Or am I simply overthinking this?
Ok. Rant over.financialguy