Lem Hooper Improves Ford's Currency Plan
by Ellis Parker Butler
Our eminent jurist and incorruptible legal light, Justice of the Peace Lemuel Hooper, entered his courtroom and having blown on his cold fingers and removed his muffler, hat and overcoat, announced that court was open for business.
"Only one case this morning, your honor," said Court-officer Durfey. "I am the complainant, your honor."
"Hum!" said Judge Hooper when he had placed his spectacles on his nose and heard what Officer Durfey had to say. "And. what have you to say to this, Samuel J. Higgins of 453 East Ninth Street?"
"Well, judge," said Mr. Higgins, assuming the friendly confidential tone supposed to appeal to judges, "it don't amount to anything. In another half hour that snow would have been all tromped down --"
"Samuel J. Higgins," said Judge Hooper severely, "by what misconceived theory of law do you come here and announce that the snow removal ordinance made and provided by the city of Riverbank amounts to nothing? You have heard what Durfey said. Five times this winter the heavens have lowered and the fleecy snow has fallen on your sidewalk. Five times this winter Officer Durfey has been obliged to wade through the deep snow on your sidewalk, getting his ankles wet -- You did get your ankles wet Durfey?"
"Yes, Your Honor," admitted Officer Durfey.
"Periling his health and risking death, jeopardizing the support of his family," said Judge Hooper, "and you call that nothing, Samuel J. Higgins! Alas! I know not how many other citizens have been thus jeopardized by your negligence, Samuel J. Higgins! Five times did this faithful officer warn you to clean your walk and you did not, and now -- for the sixth time the heavens have lowered and the snow has fallen and the sidewalk of Samuel J. Higgins, 453 East Ninth Street, remains uncleaned. What have you to say for yourself?"
"Well, now, judge," said Mr. Higgins ingratiatingly, "it's like this: I don't say that maybe I haven't been a little neglectful, but I get to thinking. I'm an intelligentsia. I'm a thinker. I study deep into problems. And yesterday morning, judge, I was busy studying this plan of Henry Ford's for a new kind of money for this country. That's what we need, judge, a new kind of money."
"Something sort of Russian, hey?" asked Judge Hooper. "Some sort of money that you need a bale of to buy a snow-shovel? Seems to me the kind of money we have now grades up fair to middling, don't it?"
"Yes, but if a great mind thinks up a new kind why not have it?" asked Mr. Higgins eagerly. "Better money! That's the kind old Hen Ford wants. He says that when this country wants more currency the thing to do is to issue paper money backed up by our national resources -- waterpower. That's what Hen says. He says, 'When the Government needs money it will raise it by issuing currency against its imperishable national wealth.' He says we ought to do that and have a unit of value whereby a certain amount of energy exerted for an hour would be equal to one dollar. The trouble with me, judge, was that I got to thinking about that plan and got so interested I clear forgot to shovel my walk."
"You did, did you?" said Judge Hooper drily. "Well, Samuel J. Higgins, this court is not interested in the reformation of the currency of the United States in any shape or manner. This court, never having discovered a seedless prune or made an automobile, does not feel competent to settle the currency question and all other questions, national, international, and interplanetary. This court, Samuel J. Higgins, may some day invent a patent collar-button and make a billion dollars, and when it does it is going to tackle a plan for currency based on waterpower. This court will then issue Niagara Falls in twenty-dollar bills and Minnehaha Falls in ten-cent shin-plasters. In that glad day, Samuel J. Higgins, if a man has a twenty-dollar bill and can't use twenty dollars' worth of Niagara waterpower, he can walk right up to the grand old falls and drink twenty dollars' worth of high-power Niagara Falls water and get square with the Government. A liquid currency!
"In some cases, Samuel J. Higgins, I am strong for Mr. Ford's theory that a certain amount of energy exerted for one hour should be equal to one dollar. And do not imagine, Samuel, that I believe the honorable Henry, who uses power by wholesale and has money by the bale, would
suggest that this great nation issue paper money that might soon be as cheap as Russian rubles so that he might corral forty-seven bales and take over all the big and little falls for his own use and purpose. Henry would not think of such a thing, Samuel J. Higgins, but the trouble with Henry is that he would not think that another man might think of it. But some man would, Samuel, some man would! Men think of many things. I am thinking of one now."
"What?" asked Mr. Higgins.
"Of a snow-shovel," said Judge Hooper. "And of the wisdom of Mr. Ford's suggestion that a certain amount of energy exerted for one hour should be equal to one dollar. That is a noble thought, Samuel J. Higgins, but I will go him nine better. I decree, Samuel J. Higgins, that under the currency plan of Justice of the Peace Hooper a certain amount of energy exerted for one hour shall be equal to ten dollars. You will now repair to the premises known as 453 East Ninth Street and get out your snow-shovel and exert your energy for one hour on your snowy sidewalk. That's all!
"Durfey, put another chunk of coal in that stove."