27 Jul 2012

Benjamin Butler had it right in 1869

One of the many remarkable things I learned  from reading Stephen Zarlegna's "The Lost Science of Money" was that back in 1869 Benjamin F. Butler made a speech to the House of Representatives that argued for the creation of government produced debt-free money - the key platform of the Greenback movement. The full text of his speech can be found here, but here are some of the high points, taken from Zarlegna's book :
"Let no man say that I desire to establish or perpetuate a depreciated currency. I think I have proposed a currency as valuable as gold and for all purposes of a circulating medium better than gold.... But what I desire is that the currency shall not be redeemable in gold and silver... In other words the value of the currency of this country, its volume, its stability, the values of all property in this county, shall no longer be at the mercy of the panics, the caprice, the speculations, or the needs of the bankers of Europe or the traders of Asia...

My proposition is to take from the national banks all power to issue notes to circulate as money, leaving them as they are now banks of deposit, loans and discounts, but not of issue.
The government shall issue an amount equal to its taxes, say $350 million of certificates of value of convenient denomination... which shall be lawful money and legal tender for all debts, public and private, which by the law creating them are not made payabale in coin andn shall be receivable for all taxes... of every kind whatsover, to be re-isued at pleasure... and which shall be receivable for all public loans made to the United States...

We have divested our government of every trait of the despotism, every attribute of the monarchies, and every vestige of the slaveries of the Old World, save one, and that is the all controlling and all absorbing power by which masses of the people of all nations of the earth have ever been enslaved - coined money.

Our patriot fathers, founding a government for themselves on this continent carefully eliminated from its framework every attribute of monach and aristocracy, the divine right of kings... all save one: they retained whether for good or evil, the precious metals... as the standard  by which to measure the property and industry of the new Republic...

We marvel that they saw so much but they saw not all things.

I stand here therefore for inconvertible paper money, the greenback that fought our battles and saved our country.. I stand here for a currency by which the business transactions of 40 million people are safely and successfully done... that money which saved the country at war and has given it prosperity and happiness in peace... I stand for that money therefore which is by far the better agent and instrument of exchange of an enlightened and free people than gold or silver, the money alike of barbarian and despot".
Stirring stuff. And perfectly appropriate today. What a tragedy that the bankers managed to sidetrack the American people by stoking up the silver versus gold debate. Their scheme worked well, and the idea that money creation should be the responsability of governments and not private banks has been lost for close to 150 years. Isn't it time that we thought about this important issue again?

No comments:

Post a Comment