Topic: "Balance of Payments"(5)
Nine years ago this very month Frodo and Sam were traveling the Romantic Road. Included in this festive "fahrt" (which is the German word for "trip") was an excursion into Oktoberfest in Munich. With several Mardi Gras' under their belts, this would leave the Hobbits with only "Carnival" in Rio to ensure their attendance at each of the greatest parties in all the world (and make the planned Olympiad in Brazil even more potentially exciting). Unfortunately for the Hobbits, it appeared that Oktoberfest would be a wash-out, since it had been raining for a day or two before their arrival and it was raining to beat the band as they entered the fairgrounds in Munich.
What the Hobbits didn't know was that there were dozens of warehouse-like buildings, each sponsored by a different maker of beverages, and the real party was inside each and every one of these structures. By chance, the Hobbits, with traveling companions behind, wandered door-to-door until they found one with enough free space to admit them, and they were welcomed under the banner which read "Lowenbrau." Inside, more than 5,000 young people, from all over the world, were squished together like sardines, as they drank from huge mugs of beer, and individually marveled at the goings-on about them. In the middle of the building stood a stage, and Frodo pointed Sam in that direction as musicians gathered in order to commence a performance which Frodo rationally assumed was going to be a whole lot of "oompahpahing." Boy, was Frodo ever wrong on this one.
Within seconds the Hobbits recognized the tune to one of the classic soul songs of all time, and as they began to sing they were accompanied by the whole crowd, in English, singing "Hey Baby, I Wanna Know-Oh, If You'll Be My Girl." Not a single oom-pah was heard that entire night, and Frodo became convinced that world peace was at hand.
One year later the War in Afghanistan was underway. Unfortunately, the Hobbit had neglected to observe any Islamic Jihadists amongst the crowd in Munich that night. Oh well, Frodo supposes, they probably wouldn't have known the words anyway.
In keeping with his predisposition to pass along a few partisan facoids with his personal narratives, Frodo notes, dear reader, that in October of 1990, before the horror that was the incompetent Administration of the Incomparable Moron, one could purchase $1 worth of goods and services in Europe for exactly 85 cents, American. Today, had Frodo and Sam repeated their journey, the rate of exchange would be a bit different. The same $1 worth of goods and services, today, would cost the Hobbits $1.36, American.
The math behind this simple statistic carries the entire future of the civilized world. Suddenly, Frodo does not feel like singing. If things fail to change and the decline in the value of the dollar continues as it has over the past nine years, there will be no young people from all over the world drinking beer and singing in Munich. And that will not be the only change to affect us all, every one.