[Illustrating Liberty is a new, irregular feature on this blog featuring the occasional “Political Photoshoppery” of Aristotle A. Esguerra.]
Gary Danelishen, a graduate student in applied economics at Auburn University, submitted a most interesting article to the Mises Institute that was run today. “Checkernomics: The Game Is Solved” notes the similarities shared between the analytical processes of Austrian-school economic thinkers and those involved in the University of Alberta’s Chinook Project, which has for all intents and purposes solved the game of checkers.
Composing the basic concept of this illustration was easy; it would be a checkers game between the world and the Federal Reserve. I searched for appropriate images of the world, a checkerboard, and the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C., and then composed an image based on these three.Version 1 of this illustration left some things to be desired. Most notably, I was unaware that, unlike in chess where White makes the first move, Black makes the first move in checkers. So I didn’t place the opponents at the correct ends of the playing field. (I think that by now, even the directors of the Federal Reserve are disabused of the notion that they “move first” in the larger scheme of things. Certainly they set interest rates, etc. But now as everyone can see, it’s always in reaction to something bigger than they.)
Version 2 of the illustration substitutes the carpet checkerboard photo with one that more closely reflects the reality of the situation. The world is now properly seated as the “prime mover”. Still, the checkerboard seems out of place. Furthermore, it doesn’t reflect the reality that this game between the Fed and the world has been going on for quite some time; one could even argue it’s in endgame status. So, it was back to the drawing board.
It became clear that a Google image search wasn’t going to give me the endgame position I desired — at least not in a photo format. I would have to build the checkerboard myself. Having found a suitable endgame position at CheckersStrategy.net — one where the outcome is certain regardless of who moves first — I went about building the board. Note that even if White (the Fed) were to play first from this position, the best outcome would be a draw.
Constructing the checkerboard from scratch also allowed me to address the nagging perspective clash between the previous boards and the image of the Federal Reserve Building (of which there are few aerial photos online).
The third version was going to be the final version, until it became obvious that there needed to be a way to make the world’s pieces stand out more clearly, especially for smaller versions of the image. Black wasn’t going to cut it.
And then the solution dawned on me: How about…gold? After all, one could make the argument that it’s literally the world’s currency. Additionally, I made the Fed’s pieces semi-transparent, recalling the fiat nature of Fed-issued currency, as well as Thomas Jefferson’s statement made to an Edward Carrington in 1788: “Paper is poverty,… it is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.”