symbolic value

Your dollar or your word? Which would you rather give or receive to satisfy an obligation? A dollar isn’t just tangible and guaranteed, it’s definite and final in the sense that there’s no reconsidering, waffling or fudging down the line. When you hand over a dollar, the deed is as good as done. The national currency introduces an element of certainty into relationships that might otherwise be fraught with ambiguity. Dollars let people, who don’t know each other very well, get along.

So, what happens when dollars are scarce? Do people have to go back to relying on words, empty promises and a potential host of misunderstandings? Basically, yes, unless they come up with acceptable and accepted substitutes. Since dollars (any currency, for that matter) are figments of the imagination, made visible and tangible in paper and electronic bits, it is possible to imagine other forms. Green Stamps used to be almost universally accepted in the US, but ultimately proved as unreliable as the Confederacy’s dollars turned out to be. More recently, various inventions put forward by the financial industry, abstracted figments of the imagination such as debentures and CDOs, suddenly imploded and triggered a widespread collapse of exchange and trade, without, oddly enough, leaving any real physical trace. Which should not actually be a surprise since the world of finance has become increasingly unreal — an abstraction of an abstraction. Think of it as a framed canvas without any paint?

Or, perhaps, if one compares a dollar to a written word, meaningful speech made visible and, when rendered in brail, tangible, the relationship that should exist between a symbol and a physical reality (spoken language impacting auditor nerves as waves of energy) is easier to comprehend. Currency symbolizes value and renders it tangible. The variations invented by the financial industry rely on the notion that value is lessened or enhanced much as the informational content of the written word depends on fanciful decoration with gold leaf or a spectacular font.

Super Lawyer Christopher T. Graham
Super Lawyer Christopher T. Graham

“Spectacular” is a good word. Appeals to the visual sense seem particularly effective as substitutes when an abstraction of an abstraction is being promoted. I suspect, for example, that, if the following sentences, found on the web site of an outfit that calls itself The Graham Private Client Law Group were spoken out loud, they’d be about as persuasive as the word salad Sarah Palin routinely spouts.

The Graham Private Client Law Group specializes in Asset Preservation, Asset Succession, Tax Minimization, and Business planning exclusively for high net worth entrepreneurs and families. Our professionals apply their advanced degrees from internationally respected institutions such as Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Dartmouth, Michigan, Mississippi, Virginia, Emory, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Wesleyan, Georgia, and University of Connecticut, as well as their breadth and depth of experience from international, national and regional law, accounting, and financial firms to achieve Client objectives in full collaboration with their current advisors.

Each Client has a specific and unique circumstance. Accordingly, we approach each project with an open architectural problem solving process that ensures customized solutions designed to match Client needs and objectives. There is no “one size fits all” or “fill in the blank” solution to a Client problem.

While validation of these claims is verbalized on a radio program, it is unlikely that the clients of Christopher T. Graham bother with that any more than they are likely to be impressed by the “honors” received from the “Modern Luxury Men’s Book.” One hopes. The reference to “potential marital creditors” does give one pause.

In any event, Christopher T. Graham’s enterprise is located in the tower atop the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, on the 27th floor, the same venue where we find the purported owner of the Reserve at Demere (Mary Wan LLC), Mariners Landing (Gascoigne LLC) and the Yacht Club (Yacht Club LLC), all on St. Simons Island, the latter of which C T Graham actually claims to control. Perhaps “customized solutions” is the euphemistic designation for operating under different names and disguising a variety of uniformly shoddy enterprises. The Yacht Club, for example, dumps road run-off directly into Mother Nature’s marshes and soaks the Clients for big bucks (nearly half a million) for tiny, less than a third of an acre, lots. Bargain hunters can pick up condos at the Reserve on five tenths of an acre ($20,000) for less than a quarter million.

Dollars also let scammers get away quick.

Author's Note: This story first appeared at Hannah Blog. The composite image was a photo of Mr. Graham from his "Super Lawyer" page (promotional/fair use)

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."