Throughout history horned cattle have had a special place in the world's economies. This is particularly true in "primitive" cultures in which people tend not to confuse real wealth with financial capital. The difference is that real wealth produces something, like milk, butter, cheese, and meat, while financial capital consists of "sterile" assets: existing accumulations of savings. Even the word "capital" comes from "head," caput — of cattle, naturally. "Pecuniary"? Pecus — an archaic Latin word for (you guessed it) "cattle."
Dismissing the ideas promoted by unenlightened souls who think gold, silver, or government or consumer debt (as opposed to credit extended to purchase assets that pay for themselves) constitutes real wealth, it's clearly better to back your currency with something sound (or that makes a sound, like "moo") that produces goods and services, than something that just sits around in a vault gathering dust. That's why it's so encouraging the Republic of Ireland got international attention for the annual Baileys Champion Cow Competition in Virginia. (Readers in the Northern Virginia district of Bailey's Crossroads, USA, please remain calm. You didn't miss this historic event. It took place in Virginia, County Cavan, Éire, yesterday.)
According to the little clip on the RTÉ web site (the Irish radio and television network), around thirty bovine beauties competed for the title of "Moos Ireland" (their joke, not mine). They were evidently not judged on the more important talents of amount of milk or number of offspring, but on appearance: "shapely legs, a good-shaped back and nice udders." A plus that would have pleased my mother, who hated milking (milch cows seem to develop habits of "hooking" with their horns and kicking, especially if you have cold hands), was the declaration that "a good personality and temperament is a must."
What alerted me to the contest was a brief notice on television last night, showing owners grooming their cattle, and adding tail extensions and make-up. I didn't see any evidence of udder-padding, however.
Of course, if you want to find out more about the structuring of a sound monetary system (especially if you don't have sufficient grazing in your penthouse apartment), read "A New Look at Prices and Money" on the CESJ web site. Just make sure your hands are warm.