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Money Talks — But What Does It Say?

Money Talks But What Does It Say?What does your money say? Of course, most of the time, we’re more concerned with what money can buy – and what various institutions like the Federal Reserve and the megabanks are doing with it. But a country’s history, culture and values are written on the coins and bills it keeps in circulation. Case in point: the lowly US dollar bill, which contains in its often-misunderstood symbols and slogans the dreams and aspirations of its founders.

The images and words that appear on paper and metal money aren’t static. They change over time to accommodate new circumstances – and political conditions. US currency alone has undergone several permutations as a result of the country’s changing configurations and events like the Civil War. And in other parts of the world, new money commemorates changing regimes and leaders.

Money Talks In Symbols and Slogans

Because money acts as a kind of shorthand for what the issuing country stands for, every image and word printed or stamped on stands as a symbol with layers of deeper meanings behind it. And as those meanings become hazy with time, the symbols themselves can take on entirely new meanings their creators never intended.

Most officially circulated currency carries at least the image of a prominent individual, a motto or slogan, and a symbol representing what the country stands for. Beyond that, money can carry a variety of images and slogans.

Take the dollar, for example. The greenback and its cousins the bigger denominations are recognized around the world. Everybody knows who’s on the bill – Ben Franklin – but what done the other parts of the dollar represent?

Seals, Symbols and Portraits

Franklin wasn’t always on the bill, though. Back in the 1860s, the face on the dollar bill was actually that of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury. And at that time there were actually several currencies in circulation as the Confederacy printed its own money and Texas declared itself a Republic with its own money too.

Those things aside, though, the key elements of American money haven’t changed too much since their creation not long after the country was born. And those mysterious symbols that raise the specter of black magic and Satanism were the brainchild of a designer inspired by the poetry of Virgil and the history of Egypt.

The face of the dollar, like other denominations, has a Treasury Seal. It consists of a scale, representing balance, a chevron with 13 stars for the 13 original colonies and a key symbolizing official authority. Until 10996 each banknote carried a Federal Reserve Bank designator that indicated where it was produced. Now, only the dollar and $2 bills carry this unique designator, a letter that proclaims the bill’s origin. Larger denominations simply carry the general Federal Reserve System Seal.

The Great Seal: Eagle and Pyramid

The dollar bill and others also carry the Great Seal of the United States – complex creation consisting o an eagle and an unfinished pyramid.

The eagle’s meaning is pretty clear – but even at that, its symbolism has stirred some controversy. The Eagle of course represents freedom and independence, soaring high and strong. There’s a shield on its chest, covered with the red, white and blue stripes and stars we’re familiar with: thirteen stars for the original colonies and blue for justice, white for purity and red for valor.

This eagle bears thirteen arrows in its left talon, representing war, and an olive branch in the right representing peace. But it’s the other part of the seal, with its mysterious eye atop a pyramid, that fuels speculation of darker meanings.

What does an unfinished pyramid with an all seeing eye on top say about the country? This symbol on the Seal, along with its inscription, “Novis Ordo Seclorum,” – “New World Order” — has fueled speculation about Masonic influences, alchemy and even Satanic references. But according to Charles Thompson, who designed the Seal in 1782, the truth is more mundane.

The pyramid, deliberately left undone, was meant to symbolize strength and duration. While that may call for a stretch of the imagination, the all seeing eye, said to represent watchful Providence, is clearer. And the inscription, inspired by Virgil, was meant to indicate that the birth of the country introduced a new direction into the world – not world domination.

The dollar and its relatives in the higher denominations have been redesigned and refurbished from time to time. Colors have changed slightly and the relative prominence of various elements has shifted. The symbols and messages on the greenback may have been misunderstood and even maligned, and its fortunes go up and down in the world’s money markets. But still it bears on its printed face keys to the early days of the country – and the vision its founders had for the future.  (Featured Image:Flickr/imagesofmoney)

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AMA 90: Work the System with Sam Carpenter

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Carla and The American Monetary Association Team



AMA 91 – America’s Forum with J.D. Hayworth

J.D. Hayworth is a former Arizona Republican Congressman and host of “America’s Forum” on Newxmax TV.


Hayworth discusses why Bill Clinton’s Presidency so corrupt and what this corruption means for Hillary’s bid in 2016.


Hayworth contested John McCain and did not win in 2010. He explains the biggest issues he had with McCain. 


Hayworth finally shares how he went from sports broadcaster to politician.


J.D. Hayworth was a Representative from Arizona. Born in Highpoint, Guilford County, N.C., July 12, 1958, he graduated from High Point Central High School, Highpoint, N.C. and earned a B.A. from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He’s a former television and radio journalist, before being elected as a Republican to the One Hundred Fourth and five succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1995-January 3, 2007). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Tenth Congress in 2006. 



Check out this episode!

AMA 90 – Work the System with Sam Carpenter

Sam Carpenter author of, “Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less.” He joins the show to discuss how can people make more money by working less.


With a background in engineering, publishing, journalism and telecommunications, Sam is author of the book, “Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less,” (2009, Greenleaf Book Group, www.workthesystem.com). He is also CEO and majority owner of Centratel (www.centratel.com), a national telephone answering service that he has operated for 28 years. Sam is founder and director of Kashmir Family Aid, a 501C3 non-profit aiding surviving school children of the Northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir earthquake of October 2005 (www.kashmirfamily.org).  


Outside interests include mountaineering, skiing, cycling, reading, traveling. “Work the System” won the prestigious “Best Non-fiction” award at the New York Book Festival. The book is now in its third edition. Sam also owns a consulting firm and distributes an on-line product, The Work the System Academy (www.workthesystemacademy.com) Originally from upstate New York he lives in Bend, Oregon and Seattle, Washington with his wife Linda.


Get “Work the System” at www.workthesystem.com


Visit the Work The System Academy at www.workthesystemacademy.com.


Check out this episode!

AMA 89 – The Truth about Gold and Silver with David Morgan

David Morgan is Publisher of The Morgan Report. He joins the show to discuss what’s next for gold and silver after the FOMC’s latest announcement and the news in Iraq. 


In the interview, Morgan shares whether investors should trust this metals rally. He explains why silver is a better currency and more ubiquitous than gold. 


Morgan then discusses how levered banks are and if financial institutions have learned anything from the 2008 crisis.


Seduced by silver at the tender age of 11, David Morgan started investing in the stock market while still a teenager. A precious metals aficionado armed with degrees in finance and economics as well as engineering, he created the Silver-Investor.com website and originated The Morgan Report, a monthly that covers economic news, overall financial health of the global economy, currency problems ahead and reasons for investing in precious metals.  


David considers himself a big-picture macroeconomist whose main job as education—educating people about honest money and the benefits of a sound financial system—and his second job as teaching people to be patient and have conviction in their investment holdings. A dynamic, much-in-demand speaker all over the globe, David’s educational mission also makes him a prolific author having penned “Get the Skinny on Silver Investing” available as an e-book or through Amazon.com. As publisher of The Morgan Report, he has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business, and BNN in Canada. He has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Futures Magazine, The Gold Report and numerous other publications. Additionally, he provides the public a tremendous amount of information by radio and writes often in the public domain.


Find out more about David Morgan and his work at www.silver-investor.com.

Check out this episode!

Can Corporate Tax Inversions Harm the Economy?

Can Tax Inversions HarmtheEconomyThe chief financial officer of drugstore giant Walgreen’s just departed his job. And while the movements of higher ups at megacorporations often resemble a round of musical chairs, this particular job change sheds light on a new trend in corporate tax evasion: tax inversion.

Tax inversion is a milk toast term for a sweeping strategy that’s being increasingly embraced by large and some mid-size American corporations: partner with a foreign corporation, dissolve the US business and reincorporate it outside the country. While technically legal, this kind of move worries entities like the US Joint Committee on Taxation, which estimates that tax inversions cost the country – and its taxpayers – nearly $20 billion annually.

Tax Inversion Exploits Tax Code Loopholes

US corporate taxes are among the highest in the world, so it’s no surprise that businesses of all sizes are constantly looking for ways to avoid the hit. And while proposals for business tax reform have been on the table for over two years, Congress still hasn’t taken action on reforming the code in ways that would benefit the economy as a whole and create a more equitable tax structure.

But the existing code does come with loopholes that savvy corporate lawyers can exploit. And one of those is a provision that creates tax benefits, not liabilities, for companies that acquire foreign corporations and then declare that they’re based overseas.

At Walgreen’s, the departure of CFO Wade Miquelin came just before the company announced its intention to acquire Alliance Boots, a Switzerland based company that has no apparent connection with pharmacies. That acquisition lets Walgreen’s reconstitute its corporate headquarters abroad – and shed a large portion of its US corporate tax burden.

Offshore tax havens aren’t new, of course. Putting US money into foreign accounts to stash it safely away from the taxman is a time-honored practice conducted by businesses large and small – as well as numerous criminal organizations. But as that strategy gets riskier, corporations are taking a different tack – recreating their corporate identify itself outside the country. Making it easier: the ability to buy up, merge or partner with an existing company in that foreign country.

Tax Inversion and Domestic Tax Revenue

The result? The new entity on foreign soil doesn’t pay corporate taxes at home on profits made through its reincarnated, offshore, version. And that, obviously, means that tax revenue ends up conspicuously absent from the domestic tax base – a scenario with the potential to affect the health of the economy and the lives of American taxpayers in a multitude of ways large and small.

According to a recent Forbes article, the immediate impact of tax inversion is felt by company shareholders, many of whom are smaller investors. If they’re left holding the bag of nearly useless shares after the company moves offshore, they may end up selling off their shares of the company’s stock at a loss – and paying the higher taxes imposed on short-term capital gains.

That’s what happened with the recent merger of US based Forest Laboratories with ActivusPLC in Dublin. Forest Laboratories closed its US operations and reinvented itself in Ireland, leaving Forest Laboratories company shareholders to cope with unloading their shares and paying the resulting capital gains taxes at the higher short term rates.

That multibillion dollar tax loss, say financial experts, also robs the country of needed funds to keep the economy humming and boost sectors such as employment and maintaining the infrastructure. But not everyone agrees.

Although corporations practicing tax inversions are able to evade taxes on revenues made outside the country, they still must pay standard US corporate taxes on revenues fro inside the US. That, some economists argue, offsets the overall loss of tax revenues. And, they say, the process itself oaf dissolving and reincorporating the company brings with it taxes and fees that return to the government.

Joining the criticism of tax inversion are supporters of the President’s recent proposal, which has languished since 2012 without government action. They say that the current loophole that allows for inversion stacks the decks against those businesses that aren’t able to accomplish a foreign merger and restructuring, and robs the country of much needed revenues for essentials like road and bridge repair and emergency response funding.

Closing the Loopholes With Tax Reform

The proposed corporate tax reforms would make it harder for a US-based company to reinvent itself as a foreign entity and continue to enjoy the perks of its US based operations. Foreign shareholders would have to hold a majority in the new entity, rather than the 20 percent now required. Those provisions were part of an earlier bipartisan proposal made back in 2004, and reform advocates hope that the changes will survive.

In the meantime, though, tax inversion remains a hotly debated issue. And as more US corporations enter into unlikely partnerships with foreign businesses for the purposes of avoiding US corporate taxes, the ultimate effect on the economy overall may be more uncertain than it first appears. But financial experts warn that because changes to the tax code won’t be coming any time soon, corporate tax inversion will affect the nation – and its taxpayers – in ways large and small.

(Top image: Flickr/KevinFowler)


Madhani, Amer. ”Walgreen’s CFO Departs Ahead of Tax Inversion Announcement.” USAToday Finance. usatoday.com. 5 Aug 2014.

Wastall, Tim. “The US Treasure Would Not Lose $20 Billion From Corporate Tax Inversions.” Forbes. Forbes.com 5 Aug 2014.\

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