The Simpsons Did It First


I did a lot of relaxing, coach potatoing and channel surfing over the winter break. My all-time favourite TV show is The Simpsons. I don’t care how many times I’ve seen an episode, to me, it never gets old. I also try and bust out Simpsons quotes whenever the appropriate situation happens to arise in real life (Ordering food? “You don’t make friends with salad”…Disappointed in something? “Boourns” Every time I turn on my computer…”Oh I see they have the Internet on computers now!”) You get the idea.

Being a journalism student, I also watch a lot of news. Over the winter break I couldn’t help but make the connection to the American debt crisis situation and the 1998 Simpsons episode The Trouble with Trillions. What up business and finance students…This one’s for you. In the episode, Homer gets bullied into working as a spy for the IRS after his taxes get audited. He goes undercover to steal a one-of-a-kind trillion dollar bill, which was created to aid Europe after the Second World War, but was stolen by Mr. Burns.

I was surprised more people weren’t making the connection to this episode and what is happening in the United States.

The U.S. Treasury is considering minting a trillion dollar coin should Congress refuse to raise the debt ceiling.  The debt ceiling is the government’s borrowing limit that can only be raised through congressional authorization. (Stay with me Arts students.)

Due to a legal loophole, by minting the coin then depositing it into the Federal Reserve, and in a nutshell “the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling — while doing no economic harm at all,” writes Paul Krugman , the Nobel prize winning economist who came up with the idea.

So let’s take a look how the trillion dollar bill scenario played-out for Homer:

In the episode Homer, Mr. Burns and Smithers flee to Cuba and try to buy the island from Fidel Castro, who subsequently steals the trillion dollar bill.

Now I can’t say the same thing will happen if the plan goes ahead to make a real-life trillion dollar coin, but it does offer a good warning sign. All I know is this trillion dollar coin thing does happen, I would hope that Mr. Burns’ face appears on the design. Crazy enough, this isn’t the first Simpsons moment to play out in real life, take a look at some ridiculously real Simpsons plots:

Simpsons moment: The Episode when Homer Steals Sugar

Homer Simpson steals a large sugar truck that Hans Moleman crashed. He starts selling it door-to-door and keeps the sugar in his backyard until it rains and the melts away.

Real life: The stolen maple syrup. Last year 10,000 barrels of maple syrup worth more than $20 million were stolen from a Quebec maple syrup reserve. That’s about 100 truck loads. The story made international headlines and was so typically Canadian that jokes about the “sticky-fingered thieves”  circulated worldwide. Read the full story here.

Simpsons moment: The Leftorium Episode

In this episode Homer makes a wish for Ned Fladers’ left-handed store to go out of business. His wish comes true and gets Ned’s family in financial crisis. Homer gleefully buys his business until he sees the Flanders house get repossessed. Feeling guilty, Homer calls up everyone in Springfield who is left-handed and tells them about the store, which is eventually saved.

Real life: Well it’s not owned by Ned Flanders but you leftorinos looking for something similar can shop at Lefty’s, based out of San Fransico. The store opened in 2009 and, just like Flanders, have been selling left-handed ledgers, scissors and can-openers ever since. Check out the online store at Okely dokely do!

Bonus: The Real Life Kwik-E-Mart

To promote The Simpsons movie, 7-Eleven converted many stores into Kwik-E-Marts across the United States and one in British Columbia. A Duff energy drink was also sold at the stores. I visited the Kwik-E-Mart at Universal Studios Orlando last spring, which is actually a gift shop.  They were most definitely out of Bort name tags.

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