In my fantasies, the know-nothings would learn from some of my favorite books. When it comes to money, start with Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible by William Goetzmann. As the title states, the author tells us about history while he tells us about economics. (Should we ever have one without the other?)
Try to explain money. These days, I try to explain Bitcoin (any crypto-currency) to friends and family. What "backs" these? What backs any fiat money? The trust in and the credibility of the issuer. When I shop with "Peter Gordon IOU's" I don't get very far.
Economic historians like Goetzmann have the real goods. Consider this from page 450:
There are many more gems like this one. Enjoy.“Having repudiated its foreign debt and fought off the attempts by the world’s leading investor nations to reverse the October Revolution, Russia still needed to raise money. In the Yale collection of historical financial documents is a printed bill, about twice the size of a modern dollar. On the front of the bill is a picture of a farmer sowing a field. The inscription on the bill identifies it as a short-term loan from 1923: an obligation of the government. Oddly enough it does not promise payment in rubles but instead it can be redeemed for one sack of rye flour. Karl Marx would have been proud. The young Soviet government had bravely dispensed with the object of money fetishism – the veil that concealed the true value and encouraged capitalist monetary accumulation. Instead, the idealistic Bolsheviks introduced a more fundamental source of value as a medium of investment and exchange. Lest Russians imagine that the grain itself held value, the romantic pastoral image of the farmer sowing the grain pictured the labor theory of value. The commodity was worth the amount of honest labor used in planting and harvesting it. What is not clear from the document is whether the bill represented fiat money or whether it was truly redeemable. If it were actually a short-term note used to redeem a sack of rye, there is missing information. The bill does not state when and where the sack can be collected. Perhaps it was really a manifestation of the labor theory of value. Alternatively, it could have been a manifestation of the weakness of the young Soviet state. Russia was in the throes of hyperinflation in the early 1920s as the needs of the state outstripped its resources. Perhaps the rye bond was an inflation-protected currency. Then again, who knows how many sacks of rye the government had to deliver on such promises – or indeed, whether they ever did. The fact that you can buy one of these bills today for less than $50 suggests that many of them were left unredeemed.”