James Joyce, a writer so controversial that when he delivered Dubliners to the printers they refused to handle it, ended up on the Irish tenner. Hilariously, Australia put a portrait of convicted forger Francis Greenway on their 10 dollar bill.
In this year when we're told we white folk kindly abolished the slave trade out of the goodness of our hearts, it's instructive to consider one of Jamaica's national heroes, Nanny. She was a leader of escaped slaves who waged a guerilla war against the British.
She - committed and active killer of the British - is on Jamaica's $500 bill.
In England and Wales, we had Charles Dickens on the £10 note until 2003. A brilliant chronicler of the darker sides of urban life, he was incongruously illustrated by a cricket match scene from one of his books.
There are several reasons why that didn't bug me too much though. The Americans get 'in god we trust' on their dollars, so it is fitting we got cricket on ours. As George Bernard Shaw explained, 'the English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity'.
Also, the wicket keeper had a particularly plump arse, and when you held the note to the light the Queen showed through, seeming to perform fellatio on the said stout-rumped fellow.
Dickens gave way to the newer Darwin tenner, which aroused a particular glee as it must've really fucked off the Creationists.
But now they give us Adam Smith on the £20. What a fucker. Father of the freemarket, believer that the self-interest of those with money is the best ruling tenet for society, bringer of misery, a man who viewed humans as mechanical industrial components for the benefit of the rich.
He contended that bakers don't bake as a social service, but as a way to make a living. As people need bread, they pay for bakers.
The bit he missed was that this guarantees a society that will provide anything required by people with money, in proportion with the amount of money they have. Those with less money get less of a say in social structure, and those without money can fuck off and die.
The image of the pin manufacturers behind him taunts those who use money; see how your labours are dull and you are given a small fraction of the wealth they produce.
And that's just viewing it from the workers' side. Beyond that, there's the effect on the wider world. What's good for meeting the desires of the rich is rarely in keeping with what's fair for all, let alone what's good for things that can't be measured in monetary terms.
As the New Economics Foundation explained
In everything from the massive corporate scandals to anti trust cases to serious environmental degradation we see all around us, it is obvious that Adam Smith's famous 'invisible hand' cannot be relied upon to bring us successful or sustainable outcomes.
Gyrus recently gave us an Adam Curtis quote that perfectly nails Smith's fallacy.
In economics, the whole idea that the free market is an efficient system is coming under serious attack. Over the past five years, many of the Nobel Prizes for Economics have been awarded for studies that show that markets do not create stability or order; that what Adam Smith called “the Invisible Hand” is invisible because it isn’t actually there; and politicians do have a powerful role to play in controlling the markets.
And a new discipline, called Behavioural Economics, has been studying whether people really do behave as the simplified model says they do. They show that only two groups in society actually behave in a rational, self-interested way in all experimental situations: one is economists themselves; the other is psychopaths.