Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Money Is Fungible?

I had to look up the definition of fungibility, to make sure that we all start from the same base. Here it is:
Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution, such as crude oil, shares in a company, bonds, precious metals or currencies. For example, if someone lends another person a $10 bill, it does not matter if they are given back the same $10 bill or a different one, since currency is fungible; if someone lends another person their car, however, they would not expect to be given back a different car, even of the same make and model, as cars are not fungible.
Get it? Bloggers are not fungible, for instance. Which is a good thing.

But money is. Nevertheless, that's not quite the way the term is currently used in politics, mostly by people who argue that any money given to Planned Parenthood will contribute to abortions because, you know, money is fungible. We've all heard the same about how tax-payers shouldn't have to subsidize abortions. This is interpreted as meaning that the government must never fund abortions, even if the money for them would come from some other source than the taxes of those who oppose abortions. Because, once again, money is fungible.

What these people mean is something slightly different. Not fungibility, after all. What they perhaps mean is that increasing an organization's (or an individual's) income in any way whatsoever will let them spend more of the rest of their income on Bad Things. For instance, one of these types of folk might argue against Food Stamps because getting them for food might let poor people spend the rest of their money on alcohol.

I'm not sure if that's the right interpretation*. But if it is I'd like to complain about my taxes going towards killing people in all these wars. Why aren't the so-called pro-life people up in arms (pardon the pun) about that anti-life part?

Even something like those ineffective abstinence programs of the Bush era were partly funded from my taxes! Money thrown down the well it was, or rather pork to the Christian fundamentalists. I want my fungible money for that back so that I can donate to the anti-war groups instead.

So why is this concept of fungibility seemingly used only when it's about forced birth issues?
*The other one is naturally that certain groups wish to completely control the federal government or Planned Parenthood or the behavior of poor people.