“The Bank hath benefit of interest on all monies which it creates out of nothing”. – William Paterson on the founding of The Bank Of England

President Bush,

Oh hi, sorry to bother you Mr President, my name is Bill Gates. No, not that Bill Gates, that was what started the trouble. Let me explain, because I really do need your help. Last August, my good lady and myself decided to take a holiday in Vegas. I’ve never been much of a gambler, Gladys and I were sitting having a quiet drink watching a high roller at the craps table, when this guy in a tux walks up and addresses me by name. You are Bill Gates, he asks; yes, I say. Can I tempt you to take a flutter? he continues. Well, I don’t really, not usually. Haven’t you left you wallet in the hotel room? chips in Gladys. Oh that’s no obstacle, says the guy in the tux, holding out his hand and introducing himself as Len, I’m sure we can extend you credit, Mr Gates. How about ten billion dollars, he says, with what I can only describe as a tone of total sincerity. Make it thirty and you’ve got a punter, I said. Now, I really wasn’t expecting him to agree there and then. He didn’t even ask me to sign a credit note.

Like I said, I’ve never been much of a gambler, and when the croupier brought me all those chips, well, they didn’t seem like real money at all. Amazing thing roulette; I wouldn’t have thought it was possible for red to come up eleven times in a row. When you start off staking ten thousand dollars a spin and doubling up after every loss, it soon mounts up. I can’t believe I got through the whole thirty billion in one evening.

The next night, Gladys said we’d better go to another casino, well, actually she thought we’d better go home, but I thought I’d better try to recover some of my losses. It’s amazing how easy it is to get credit in Vegas when your name is Bill Gates. I just walked up to the casino manager, flashed my driving licence and said Hi, I’m Bill Gates, how about a line of credit? Certainly, Mr Gates, he said. Forty billion dollars all right? They’ll only give you thirty billion at the Desert Inn.

Anyway, I thought perhaps I’d have better luck at blackjack. Heck, the cards were soooo-oooo baaa-aaad! Still, I figured it was all roundabouts and swings, if I lost the whole lot I could always try the crap tables the following night. I did, and it wasn’t. The next night it was high stakes slot machines, the night after it was, well, back to roulette. I never had a problem getting credit. And my luck never changed.

After I’d dropped close to two hundred billion dollars the guy in the tux comes to me and says, you’re not really Bill Gates, are you? I mean, you are Bill Gates, but you’re not that Bill Gates. ’Fraid not, I said. Well, that leaves us with a problem, Mr Gates, because you owe us and our partners at the Desert Inn, Golden Nugget et al a shade over two hundred and five billion dollars, and the interest is accruing daily. How exactly do you propose to repay us?

I must confess, I hadn’t thought of that. To be honest I didn’t realise you guys had that much money. We don’t, he replied, even we’re not that rich. Yes, but you gave me thirty billion dollars credit first thing, I said. How could you do that if you didn’t have the money to start with? We gave you credit, Mr Gates, not money. Anyone can give credit. Yes, I said, but where does the credit come from? The same place the banks get their credit, he said, we created it. Banks create credit, I asked? Of course, he said, I thought everyone knew that. They do it by writing figures in a book, or inputting data into a computer. Oh fine, I said. Well, in that case, as I owe you two hundred billion dollars or so of money you created by writing figures in a book, I guess I can repay you by writing a figure for the same amount, in my cheque book. Then the two will cancel out. Only if you have money in your account, Mr Gates, he said, and as you have none, at least not that much, we’ll have to come to a different arrangement. Oh I said. Only banks have the power to honour their own cheques, Mr Gates, he said.

So my problem, Mr President, our problem, is that the boys in Vegas created two hundred billion dollars out of nothing and loaned it to me at interest. I gave it back to them and now they want me to repay it as well. Heck, not only was this credit created out of nothing, it was spent on nothing. True, it gave my good lady and myself a few hours entertainment, but it profited no one, it wasn’t used to build a hospital, to improve the city’s infrastructure, to relieve the terrible suffering of the American people in the wake of the recent hurricanes, or even to put anyone’s kids through college. The money was created out of nothing by parasites and squandered on useless pleasure, but now it has to be repaid, and repaid in full.

And if it isn’t repaid, Mr President, heck, the American economy will collapse. Well, that’s not quite true, the guy in the tux has given me until Monday, then he says he’ll send a couple of his gorillas round to break both my arms.

Anyway Mr President, if you can bail me out with two hundred billion dollars, I would be most grateful. Oh, one other thing, you can’t do what the boys in Vegas did and create this money out of nothing. They say this is expressly forbidden. No, no! You have to repay them using taxpayers’ money. Otherwise the confidence of the American public in Las Vegas will be undermined. And if that happens, heck, people just won’t gamble anymore.

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