Dollars & Sense

What do a trillion dollar platinum coin, Lance Armstrong and the NFL playoffs have in common? Allow me to enlighten…

I was watching my usual Sunday news shows, when my favorite journalist, Fareed Zakaria posed this question: Have you heard of the trillion dollar platinum coin? Surely, this must be a joke, I thought to myself. But, NO! In an apparent legal loophole contained within the US Code which manipulates the powers of the US Mint, Section (k) of 31 USC § 5112 , the United States Secretary of the Treasury “may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.”

Issue a single trillion dollar platinum coin to the U.S. Treasury, thus avoid borrowing and bypass the debt ceiling. Can we do this, you ask? We are the US of A and we can do whatever we want… in theory. The 14th Amendment gives the President unilateral authority to raise or ignore the national debt ceiling, according to some legal analysts. So, if he wanted to, the President could have taken matters into his own hands by saying a big FU to the Republicans stonewalling the debt negotiations and dealt with the national debt in an unconventional, yet 100% legal and constitutional way. Winning!

What would that say about our broken government? How will history reflect on the total inability of our governing branches to come together to solve a major issue of our time? Can we ever trust the office of the Presidency again after such a power-grab move?

Speaking of trust, let’s mention Lance Armstrong. I heard about an interview he gave recently where he allegedly admitted to doping during his Tour de France victories. After all these years of media manipulation and vehement denials and perpetuating half-truths, he is coming clean. He has admitted to some parts of the story and not others… whatever, technicalities. He lied. He was part of a ‘winning at any cost’ system which promoted shortcuts. The stuff of trillion dollar platinum coins, folks! And, he bought into it. Now, David Gregory of Meet the Press asks whether we should forgive him and give him a chance to participate in the Olympics in the future? Are you serious?

Where do we draw the line when it comes to standards and rules in the business of sports? What is the ethical responsibility of an athlete? How can we ever trust an athlete, or an institution for that matter, who buys into such dishonesty?

I have been watching a lot of football this weekend. I’m hit with the reality that the season is quickly coming to a close and suddenly, I can’t get enough. This year, particularly, it seems like the best of the best are in the playoffs and every game has been a nail biter. My team did not make the playoffs, but as I watch the teams that did, I’m awestruck by how unbelievably disciplined they are. To get to this level in the NFL, you have to put in the time and effort. You have to maintain a superb work ethic, almost machine-like, and work, work, WORK HARD.

What do a trillion dollar platinum coin, Lance Armstrong and the NFL playoffs have in common?

YOU CAN’T TAKE SHORTCUTS IN LIFE. Okay, maybe I’m over simplyfying, but I’m trying to make a point here. You can’t mint your way out of a debt negotiation anymore than you can dope your way into a Tour de France win. If you want something, you gotta work hard, the old fashioned way. You have to earn the trust of your teammates and coaches and colleagues and friends day in and day out. You have to fight for what you want, every inch and every vote. You have to bend and not be broken, swerve and not be toppled. And, you have to do it all with the utmost honor and character. It is the same whether you are the President, or an athlete, or just an avid citizen like me…

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