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TAOS, NEW MEXICO, USA

[The steaks are almost done. Arthur Sinclair flips the sizzling slabs, relishing the smoke.]

Of all the jobs I’ve done, being a money cop was best. When the new president asked me to step back into my role as SEC chairman, I practically kissed her on the spot. I’m sure, just like my days at DeStRes, I only have the job because no one else wants it. There’s still so many challenges ahead, still so much of the country on the “turnip standard.” Getting people away from barter, and to trust the American dollar again…not easy. The Cuban peso is still king, and so many of our more affluent citizens still have their bank accounts in Havana.

Just trying to solve the surplus bill dilemma is enough for any administration. So much cash was scooped up after the war, in abandoned vaults, houses, on dead bodies. How do you tell those looters apart from the people who’ve actually kept their hard-earned greenbacks hidden, especially when records of ownership are about as rare as petroleum? That’s why being a money cop is the most important job I’ve ever had. We have to nail the bastards who’re preventing confidence from returning to the American economy, not just the penny-ante looters but the big fish as well, the sleazebags who’re trying to buy up homes before survivors can reclaim them, or lobbying to deregulate food and other essential survival commodities…and that bastard Breckinridge Scott, yes, the Phalanx king, still hiding like a rat in his Antarctic Fortress of Scumditude. He doesn’t know it yet, but we’ve been in talks with Ivan not to renew his lease. A lot of people back home are waiting to see him, particularly the IRS.

[He grins and rubs his hands together.]

Confidence, it’s the fuel that drives the capitalist machine. Our economy can only run if people believe in it; like FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” My father wrote that for him. Well, he claimed he did.

It’s already starting, slowly but surely. Every day we get a few more registered accounts with American banks, a few more private businesses opening up, a few more points on the Dow. Kind of like the weather. Every year the summer’s a little longer, the skies a little bluer. It’s getting better. Just wait and see.

[He reaches into a cooler of ice, pulling out two brown bottles.]

Root beer?