I had images of all sorts of bullshit going on in this model (ie: CashCorp pays Wal*Mart to only accept CashCorp money; MoneyCo money isn't accepted...) and thankfully realised that no one in their right minds would ever seriously adapt such a system these days.
But this brought me to an interesting thought... what the hell is money? Is there an actual bill out there to represent every single dollar that I "own"? So when my bank statement came this month and it says I have $100* in it, is there an actual $100 bill representing that?
It used to be that every dollar was backed by gold. You could go to the government and turn in your dollar, and they would give you the equivalent amount of gold. Obviously, you can't do that anymore, since we're not even on the gold standard.
Then it hit me... the only reason this little piece of paper has any value is because everyone accepts it as such. If the government were to collapse tomorrow, or the people lose faith in the government, these pieces of paper become worthless. Scary.
I work at a banking software company. I see horrendous pieces of code on a daily basis that justify the existence of birth control. Stuff that would make Jack Bauer cry. For example, today, I was tasked with adding yet another column to a 743-column SQL table. And that's just one of the minor things.
Are we seriously trusting our money to computers, where a single keystroke could mean the difference between $1,000 or $10,000? Projects with terrible management, over 100 million lines of code, 30 different software branches (I have the bitchwork job of porting stuff between these branches)... This is scary.
Or even scarier, how Diebold can make electronic voting machines. These things have millions of lines of code (what the hell? How fucking hard can it be to make a voting program?), and they refuse to let anyone audit their code, and they can't even get the damned things to work right. There are hundreds of errors in these things; districts somehow manage to have thousands more votes than voters, datestamps somehow manage to be 20 years in the future... What the HELL is going on here?
And those are just the obvious errors. Who's to say that there isn't something more nefarious hiding down where no one can find it?
The fucking CEO of Diebold, before the 2004 election, stated "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with this?
* The real figure has been arbitrarily modified to protect the innocent. Actually it's just to hide my embarassingly low savings.