Some particularly silly people have found a possible way around this upcoming debt-ceiling debacle, a solution that is almost as crazy as the fact that we have a routine that involves regular debt-ceiling debacles. They want to mint a platinum coin worth $1 trillion dollars, and they, of course, have the White House petition to go along with it.
Long story short, the idea is that if the House Republicans won’t let the Treasury pay the bills we have already accrued, the secretary of the Treasury can use a legislative loophole to mint a platinum coin, say it’s worth a trillion bucks, and deposit it into the bank, for paying bills (and possibly hookers).
And — surprise! — the concept completely eludes Fox News.
During a segment featuring an undoubtedly ingenious guest, Fox News displayed a graphic that said the platinum coin “would weigh 17,773,995 tons,” be “equal in weight to 89 blue whales,” and “equal to ballistic missile submarine.” Hey, Fox News Maker of Graphics: Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on seigniorage. It explains why it doesn’t make any damn sense for money to be worth the amount it costs to manufacture, which you probably should have known, on account of 100-dollar bills are the same size as 1-dollar bills instead of giant money-tarps.
So, right. Do not listen to Fox News about this coin thing, because they do not appear have a rudimentary knowledge of what a coin even is. The platinum coin would not weigh a zillionty pounds — it could be the size of, say, a quarter, and would carry with it only the weight of a completely failed fiscal system.
[Part that we now realize uses the wrong number:]
Also, even if we assume that a trillion-dollar coin would cost one trillion dollars, because the Treasury is run by toddlers, the numbers are still wrong. Platinum was trading yesterday at $1,632.40 per troy ounce, so $1 trillion in platinum would weigh about 612,594,952 troy ounces. That’s about 42,006,511 pounds, which is 21,000 tons: Fox News was only off by 17,752,995 tons! A literal 99.9 percent error!
It may also surprise you to know that Fox’s 17,773,995-ton number is, somehow, not equal to 89 blue whales, on account of a blue whale does not weigh 400 million pounds. Saying a weight is “equal to ballistic missile submarine” is also insanely inaccurate, doubly so because nobody runs around weighing submarines when they aren’t floating in the water. (It would take around 1,060 Ohio-class submarines sitting in the water to displace 17,773,995 tons of water, NOT ONE, since we’re on a roll with the numbers.)
Update, 1:40 p.m.: We have been snookered, by an insidious Fox News Decimal Point! We thought they wrote “17,773,995 tons,” but they actually wrote “17,773.995 tons,” with a decimal point, which is far smaller. Turns out when you say something would weigh “17,773.995 tons,” people read that leetle tiny decimal point as a comma, because when a number is that big, there is no conceivable reason to NOT round 0.995 up to the next-largest number unless you want the number to look deceptively large. We thought it was a comma, so sorry, Fox’s calculation was not off by an order of a thousand, they just made it look like it was.
In any case, the point about Fox News not knowing how money works still totally stands. Carry on.