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"I got to warn you people that the community is just about bankrupt," Auditor Orville Jordan warned the Homeland Security Committee as they jockeyed for the warmest metal chair in the house. For the daredevils, the ones with cracked seats were best.

"We just got another check from the state for highways," Holger Danske protested.

"We got a real plague of potholes this year and that $39 went in a hurry," responded Chairperson Ork Dorken.

"And most of the potholes are still here," Holger persisted.

"It seems that we can't be a town if we can't even fix potholes," noted Madeleine Morgan. "We didn't have potholes in Montana."

"That don't seem fair, us hogging all the potholes," Josh Dvorchak sneered. "I'd be glad to move that we give Montana a fair share."

Holger chuckled. Something he hadn't done since last October when a black bear chased Dawg into Mathilda Hertick's kitchen when she was serving up a roast and the bear saw the roast and forgot about Dawg.

"We need to make some money or this town will go into bankruptcy before fall," reiterated Orville sternly to the inattentive citizenry.

The idea of doing something thrilled Little Jimmy, the only person in town who went to college. In fact, he was working on a major in world finance, his eighth course in three years

"Did you know that the state constitution permits local governments to engage in any business except liquor?" he reported.

"That's because there will always be liquor even when the ship is going down," Hattie Danske ventured. She was the last surviving member of the Prohibition Party in Carson County.

"We don't have no money to start a business", protested Einar Stamstead. "Didn't you hear the auditor report that we already burned up the 39 dollars from the state.

"I know a business that we could start without money," Little Jimmy ventured. "People are getting rich overnight without investing a dime."

"Well, what is it?" Chief Security Officer Garvey Erfald ordered impatiently.

"Bitcoin!" Little jimmy exclaimed.

"Bitcoin," Dorsey echoed. "I've heard of two-bit coins but not just one-bit. Why would they cut a quarter in half when small change can't even buy penny candy anymore?"

"Especially in Canada. They don't have pennies in Canada," Madeleine claimed.

"Wait one minute," Little Jimmy said with an air of disgust. "Bitcoin is a new kind of money."

"Oh! Those danged rebels are at it again,"Holger guessed. "Who's backing this money — the federal government or Alabama?

"No government is backing this money," Little Jimmy continued. "It's worth what you think it's worth."

"You're telling me that if I had bitcoin I could claim it's worth a million dollars?" asked Dorsey.

"It would be worth a million if someone would pay a million for it," Little Jimmy disclosed.

'What if no one thought it was worth a million?" Dorsey badgered the witness.

"That's a little weakness in the system," Jimmy replied. "If people didn't believe in your bitcoin, you could go broke. But I got to tell you that people are getting rich because they believe in bitcoin."

"What would happen if people quit believing in bitcoin and our town was heavily invested in bitcoin?" asked Orville rhetorically. "We'll be fixing potholes without state help when we lose the town's treasury gambling." 

"Don't that beat all!" exclaimed Einar. "Money that isn't money and folks make money on it. I s'pose you pay only as much income tax as you think you owe."

"Our Committee on War and World Economics will take this up," Ork announced to set off a dash for the door.

Lloyd Omdahl is a political scientist and former North Dakota lieutenant governor. His column appears Sundays.

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