In some parts of the world, squirrels are letting people shop 'til they drop.
Forget the face of Jefferson or Lincoln on any currency: In Belarus, the paper bank notes valued at 50 kapeek (the equivalent of $1.65 American dollars) feature a bright-eyed Eurasian red squirrel printed on one side.
The same glorious ear-tufted creature also appears, in a raised image, on the striking silver coin of that nation, worth 20 rubles (or about 66 cents.)
In the Republic of Moldova, a silver coin also features another nicely sculpted squirrel.
A similar images appears on a smallish, now-out-of-production coin minted in Norway in bronze between 1958 and 1972, served as the equivalent of the American penny. The coin is so attractive, some craftsmen have gathered it up and resold it, incorporating it into cufflinks and earrings.
Squirrels have almost always had great value as tools for commerce. But gone, (we hope) is the medieval practice of using squirrel pelts as currency. Paper money and coin is a bit more civilized, not to mention humane.
But let's take things a step further: What if the world's markets were based on the squirrel standard instead of gold or some other commodity? Would there still be a horrendous monetary crisis in Greece, or in other European nations?
Would the United States - so rich with its eastern grey squirrels, 13-lined ground squirrels, chipmunks, Richardson's ground squirrels, Mohave ground squirrels, red squirrels, Columbian ground squirrels, northern and southern flying squirrels, ever feel the pain of overwhelming debt again? Would financial markets ever know crisis? The U.S. has clearly cornered the market on rodent resources.
In theory, the squirrel standard is infallible, as reliable as a stored acorn, as solid as an oak.
So let's reinvent our world monetary systems. Squirrels needn't be the images on our currency but perhaps they can be the basis of our financial infrastructure. Let the U.S. Treasury and the Mint toss away all those ridiculous dollar bills, coins and even that silly gold bullion in Fort Knox and let's bank instead on the value of our squirrels. Let's surrender our money and take stock in the natural value of the natural world.
Europe has its euro. Let the rest of the world enjoy the Squirro.
Hey, anybody got change for a chipmunk?