Plexus News Banner
Thursday Complexity Post
September 4, 2014

Hundred Dollar Bills: A Boon to Bad Behavior?


Richard Stratton, executive, author and former drug smuggler, enjoyed counting piles of hundred dollar bills. He says it was a "pleasant, relaxing experience." Harvard Economist Kenneth Rogoff thinks hundred dollar bills are nothing but trouble.




Both expressed their individual expertise in an NPR interview with Melissa Block and Chris Arnold. Stratton, a novelist, friend of the writer Normal Mailer, and later TV executive and magazine editor, once served eight years in prison for drug smuggling. He told NPR the drug business involved generating and smuggling huge sums of money as well as narcotics. Rogoff thinks $100 bills are all too often used to finance illegal activities, and that's a good reason to get rid of them. Rogoff notes these big bills allow a person to carry $1 million in a briefcase. And why would anyone not engaged in nefarious enterprises want to do that?


Rogoff goes even further. Writing in the Financial Times, he proposes getting rid of paper money entirely and replacing it with electronic money. Among other things, he argues, as electronic payments, even for small amounts, become increasingly prevalent, the need for paper currency declines. There would be complications, of course, and international cooperation among governments would be needed. But Rogoff suggests getting rid of large denomination bills would be a good start.


Rogoff and others have said 75 percent to 80 percent of all U.S. currency world-wide is in $100 bills. And many experts think easy flow of huge amounts of anonymous cash facilitates tax evasion as well as illegal trafficking in drugs, weapons and human beings.


The Financial Times notes that when someone with Rogoff's heavyweight credentials questions the future of physical money in a conservative, influential publication like the Financial Times, "The world should sit up and listen."     


The change from physical to virtual money would be momentous. Would underground and unofficial currencies flourish? Would crooks find ways to exploit the transition? Stratton, who no longer holds $100 bills, told NPR he thinks criminals would adapt.  


Ruth Judson, an economist at the Fed, told NPR she's not convinced there's a need to get rid of the Benjamin Franklin bill because there's really no way to know how much cash in circulation is being used for good or evil. Some historically huge $100 bill transactions have been conducted by government. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. government sent $12 billion in shrink wrapped hundred dollar bills to Iraq to pay Iraqi ministries and U.S. contractors. Planes delivered literally tons of cash from New York to Bagdad for disbursement by the U.S. led Coalition Provisional Authority. Congressional investigators later found control of the cash was lacking, and accounts vary on how much remains unaccounted for.



Remember PlexusCalls!




Friday, September 12, 2014- 1-2 PM ET

Stories: The Art, Mechanics and Meaning
Guests: Kelly Cresap and Judah Pollack                 


You've heard that humans are hard wired for stories. But what is a story? Must it have a beginning, middle and end? Must there be a protagonist and a problem? What are fragments, fables and fairy tales and how do we find meaning in symbol and metaphor? These highly skilled storytellers offer some provocative insights. Join us! This will be the first of several conversations on how stories and storytelling inform our organizations our lives.


Kelly M. Cresap PhD, is an author, public speaker, storyteller, award-winning performer and playwright, and former NPR commentator. His book Pop Trickster Fool examines archetypes in the life of pop artist Andy Warhol. Dr. Cresap coordinated the first Smithsonian conference on storytelling for personal transformation. He has led workshops on storytelling, archetypes, self-mentoring, and humor at venues such as NASA-Goddard, the Pentagon, the Whitman-Walker Clinic, and the National Speakers Association. Since 1998 Cresap has been an activist with the nonprofit men's-movement organization Mankind Project dedicated to personal growth, leadership development, and empowering men to missions of service. He has helped staff over 40 weekend training intensives, for the local Greater Washington center, and for centers in eight states. He earned his doctorate in English literature at the University of Virginia and teaches at the University of Maryland.


Judah Pollack is an expert in the art of leadership in a rapidly changing world. He is currently finishing the book Wiring the Breakthrough Brain: The Neuro-architecture of Innovation for Penguin Publishing, due out in March 2015. Previously he co-authored the book The Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness and Success. He is on the faculty at Stanford's StartX and is a regular guest lecturer at Berkeley's Haas School of Business. He has worked with many top companies including Google, SAP, Genentech, AirBnB, The North Face, and AutoDesk. Judah has worked with and designed for the US Army's General Staff, Special Forces, and officers on how to lead inside complex, emergent systems. He is a Board member of the Plexus Institute. He was co-chair for the 2011 international conference on psychological type. In 2004 he was named writer of the year by the New Hampshire Press Association for his coverage of the 2004 presidential primary.



Healthcare PlexusCalls

Wednesday, September 17, 2014- 1-2 PM ET

Leading Change in a Complex World 
Guests: Jeff Cohn and Tom Bigda-Peyton                


The world is changing-with national borders and political alliances sometimes shifting between bedtime and breakfast. Healthcare is changing, as hospitals and healthcare providers try to adjust to positive outcomes-and sometimes, unintended consequences--of the Affordable Care Act. Organizations may choose to make positive change, but not know just how to get started.

In addition to public offerings--conference calls and webinars, conferences and training events--Plexus Institute works with complex organizations such as hospitals, schools, prisons and the military to help them address compelling challenges. Training, coaching and connecting are some of the ways we support leaders and internal coaches and change agents in discovering and implementing solutions

Jeff Cohn, in conversation with Tom Bigda-Peyton, will join the call to share some of Plexus' recent work, including a three-year project with California's Long Beach Unified School District, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They will share a model Plexus is using that integrates several complexity-based change methods. Callers will have an opportunity to share some of their own real life complex challenges and to use a structured approach to work toward possible solutions.



See all upcoming PlexusCalls on the Plexus Calendar.  

Audio from all PlexusCall series is available by searching the iTunes store for Plexus Institute. Or, visit under Resources/Call Series. 


Follow us on Twitter          

 Like us on Facebook 


Plexus Institute

1025 Connecticut Ave, NW Ste 1000 

Washington, DC  20036

Phone: 888-466-4884

...fostering the health of individuals,

families, communities, organizations,

and our natural environment by helping people

use concepts emerging from the new

science of complexity


Join Plexus 

 Find us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter