Dr. Edwin Vieira, IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law, lectures on the nature of currency.
[Address to the Annual Spring Meeting of the Committee for Monetary Research & Education Union League Club, New York City, 17 May 2012]In his State of the Union Message to Congress of 11 January 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt warned that[w]e cannot be content, no matter how high th[e] general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of that fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.
The right of every family to a decent home.
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.
The right to a good education.
In Roosevelt’s mind, all of these “rights” were to be secured by positive governmental programs, implemented through a vast New Deal bureaucratic welfare state. Actually, it would have been more accurate to call this apparatus a “permanent dependency state”, necessarily tending towards an economic totalitarian state, because everyone entitled to or desirous of such “rights” would look to public officials to fulfill them, and therefore would support an ever-more-powerful central government capable of performing whatever functions were necessary to that end.
And by promising an ever-increasing cornucopia of benefits, public officials would guarantee themselves a “permanent incumbency state” under the slogan “spend and spend, elect and elect”.
To accomplish that, however, the disposable income of the General Government would have continuously to increase.
Although to some degree this could be effected through taxation—Harry Hopkins’ version of the slogan being “tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect”—the inevitable resistance by taxpayers, or their economic destruction, would impose an upper limit on the ability to “spend and spend, elect and elect”.
In the final analysis, for the scheme to work, the General Government would have to commit to ever-increasing borrowing from the banks, and therefore to ever-increasing inflation, or to the emission of Treasury notes directly—the slogan becoming “tax and tax, borrow and borrow, inflate and inflate, spend and spend, elect and elect”.
The self-evident problem with this scheme, though, is that it is self-destructive. And not only must it destroy itself, but also it will inevitably drag down society as a whole with it.
As dark as this picture is, however, it takes only a little intelligence, insight, and imagination to visualize these “rights” in quite a different light. For every one of them would be recognized in a truly free society, too. Not, however, as “economic rights”, except derivatively. Rather, they would be “political rights”—as the Declaration of Independence described them, the “unalienable Rights” to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.
They would be “rights” in the sense that no individual and no group either in private station or in public office would be allowed to interfere with anyone else’s otherwise legitimate attempts to secure these benefits for himself, by dint of his own efforts or in voluntary cooperation with others of like mind. The government’s only rôle would be to protect freedom of speech, private property, and freedom of contract, and to suppress every sort of tortious and criminal behavior that interfered with the effectuation and enjoyment of these “rights”, whether perpetrated by private parties or by public officials —especially monetary, banking, and other financial frauds, which interfere with every one of these “rights”. Under such circumstances, every one of these “rights” would be perfectly capable of achievement in a stable, prosperous, and free society.
But, in point of fact, under neither definition have these “rights” been attained in America.
They have not been, and could never be, secured as “economic rights” in Roosevelt’s sense of that term and by the means Roosevelt proposed, because the General Government is incompetent to provide them. And although they could have been guaranteed as “political rights” by the means the Constitution provides—primarily, its limitations on the powers of the General Government—they have not been achieved, because rogue public officials and private special-interest groups have proven sufficiently competent to interfere with the exercise of every one of them. What does the record show? Failure upon failure:
The promise: “The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.”
The reality: A large proportion of the most “useful and remunerative job[s]” have been exported to far-away lands; and what is left of the national economy is beset with massive unemployment, underemployment, and downright wasted employment.
- The promise: “The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.”
The reality: Instead of “earn[ing] enough”, or even “earn[ing anything]”, more and more Americans every day must fall back on welfare, food stamps, and other forms of public assistance, consume their meager life savings, or sink deeper and deeper into debt.
- The promise: “The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.”
The reality: Families are being systematically driven off the land by oligopolistic corporate agribusinesses.
- The promise: “The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.”
The reality: Domestic businessmen are confronted with ever-more-destructive unfair competition from foreign manufacturers who do not have to contend with America’s minimum wages, labor laws, environmental laws, health and safety laws, unemployment insurance, and so on.
- The promise: “The right of every family to a decent home.”
The reality: The housing market has been Ponzified, riven with fraud, and thrown into chaos.
- The promise: “The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.”
The reality: The proven unworkability of the General Government’s previous interventions in America’s health-care industry is now being employed by politicians and special-interest groups as an excuse to ram down the people’s throats a full-fledged fascistic system that both presents a clear and present danger to every common American’s physical and mental well being, and promises to be financially unsustainable to boot.
- The promise: “The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.”
The reality: The jungle drums in the Disgrace of Columbia are beating out the message that Social Security must be gutted—and, with it, what little financial security most retirees have.
- The promise: “The right to a good education.”
The reality: the biggest and cruelest hoax of all, because it affects the future more than everything else. America’s elementary and secondary schools cannot teach children to read, write, and figure, let alone to think critically—but they can fill their heads with every form of sexual perversion imaginable. Colleges and universities are the last bastions of unadulterated, unreconstructed, unapologetic Marxism, radical feminism (a variety of Marxism in which the gender struggle substitutes for the class struggle), apocalyptic environmentalism, blatant racism, Keynesianism, and every other socially destructive “ism” known to modern man. In any event, even graduates who have mastered some useful discipline cannot find jobs in their areas of specialization, but are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt for student loans.
In his 1944 State of the Union Address, Franklin Roosevelt concluded that: “All of these rights spell security.” If he was correct then, what does the utter absence of these rights today spell?
Americans had better come to grips with that question, and soon—because, some sixty-eight years after Roosevelt made his pronouncement, America has a full-fledged Department of Homeland Security, yet common Americans find themselves in the worst state of economic, political, social, moral, and even physical insecurity this country has ever experienced.
Perhaps, though, we cannot rightfully blame Franklin Roosevelt for this mess, except as an accessory after the fact. The real blame must be laid at the doorstep of Woodrow Wilson’s Administration. And specifically at the doorstep of the Federal Reserve System, because the unworkable monetary and banking systems foisted on this country in 1913 lie at the root of all of these economic and political problems.
To conclude that this disgraceful state of affairs is the result of monetary, banking, and other allied financial fraud, facilitated at every step by legalistic sleights-of-hand and political chicanery, is not to oversimplify the problem, but instead to describe its genesis in the most focused fashion possible. For, in the final analysis, the effectuation of every one of these “rights” in their meaningful sense is tied to the existence of sound money, of a rational price structure, of protection for participants in the free market against financial fraud, and therefore of a monetary and banking system that:
(i) provides the people with a monetary unit the substance and supply of which is not subject to political manipulation;
(ii) absolutely separates bank and state; and therefore
(iii) strictly limits the powers of the General Government, so that it is impossible for public officials to employ the scheme of “tax and tax, borrow and borrow, inflate and inflate, spend and spend, elect and elect”.
Conversely, the frustration of these “rights” is assured by the emission of unsound “political money”, by a nonrational price structure, by immunity in law or simply in fact for the perpetrators of massive financial fraud, by integration of bank and state, and ultimately by a totalitarian central government working hand in glove with private bankers and other speculators. And this is true whether or not the “political money” purports to be redeemable in silver (as it was prior to 1968) or in gold (as it was prior to 1933 domestically and 1971 internationally), or is unabashedly fiat (as it is today).
To be sure, sometimes it is difficult to differentiate the chicken from the egg. Has America suffered economic failure because of political failure, or political failure because of economic failure? The answer is codetermination: Economic and political failure have marched in lockstep, because the same culprits have been responsible for both.
The Federal Reserve System and its clients and henchmen, both economic and political, constitute a classic, indeed a quintessential, “faction”. As defined by James Madison: “a faction” is “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community”.
Economically, the big banks and financial houses are, first and foremost, engines and agents of speculation, peculation, and economic predation. They are not concerned with “the general Welfare”, only with their “bottom lines”.
Politically, they are engines and agents of subversion. They do not seek to aid the General Government in the general interest, but instead to coöpt, coerce, and control that government in order to maximize and protect the profits of their operations, while shifting the losses to whomever else can be made to bear them. The General Government has become a compliant component of their business plans. And, through the operations of that government, the American people have become unwilling servants of those plans, too—and necessarily so, because the government has no resources it does not take from the people.
The bankers and their allies have been at this game since the very birth of this country—with the Bank of North America, the first and second Banks of the United States, and the National Banking System of the Civil War. Throughout the Nineteenth Century, however, Americans failed to follow the prudential rule that, when dealing with factions, never listen to what they say about themselves, but always observe what they do for themselves and to everyone else.
This failure become critically important after 1913, because the Federal Reserve System goes far beyond mere factionalism.
The Federal Reserve System is specifically a corporative-state arrangement: basically a governmentally sponsored cartel of private bankers and speculators that exercises authority delegated under color of law supposedly to serve both public and private interests in the area of currency and credit. What has become obvious today, however, and should always have been self-evident from the nature of all such systems—particularly in the field of money and banking where the potential for redistribution of wealth is greatest—is that the private interests of the operators of the cartel and their political allies inevitably take precedence over the public interest in the general welfare of common Americans. For part two click below.
- To be sure, these were not Roosevelt’s own, original ideas, but instead derived from his formative experiences in the Woodrow Wilson Administration. See Thomas Fleming, The New Dealer’s War: F.D.R. and the War within World War II (New York, New York: Basic Books, 2001), at 326 & note 39.
2. The Federalist No. 10.
3. U.S. Const. preamble.
4. Act of 16 June 1933, ch. 90, 48 Stat. 195.
5. A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 537 (1935).
6. Actually, this “Bush Doctrine” is nothing new. It is merely the logical expansion of old “Brezhnev Doctrine” now embossed with the Stars and Stripes rather than the Hammer and Sickle. Under “the Brezhnev Doctrine”, the Soviet Union claimed the right to invade any country among its satellites that deviated too far from the Communist Party line as enunciated in Moscow. Under “the Bush Doctrine”, the United States claims the right to impose crippling economic sanctions upon, to ring with military bases, and if those tactics do not work then to launch ersatz “wars of national liberation”, to bomb, and even to invade, any country, without distinction, that refuses to subordinate its economy to the dictates of the Financial Axis that runs from London, through New York City, to the District of Columbia.
7. Recorded on film by Leni Riefenstahl in “Triumph des Willens”.
8. 2009—DHS-ICE entered into a contract for 200,000,000 rounds of .40 S&W ammunition over the ensuing five years. 2011—FBI awarded a contract for up to 100,000,000 rounds of .40 S&W ammunition over the ensuing five years. 2012—DHS awarded a contract for 450,000,000 rounds of .40 S&W ammunition over the ensuing five years.
9. Declaration III (1899).
10. Part 2, Article 8, § 2(b)(xix).
11. This prohibition stems from the Declaration of St. Petersburg (1868).
12. See my demolition of Holder’s contentions in “Where is the Outrage?”
13. Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Peking, China: Foreign Languages Press, 1966), at 72.
14. Observations on the Act of Parliament, commonly called the Boston Port-Bill; with Thoughts on Civil Society and Standing Armies (London, England: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1774), at 50.
Dr. Edwin Vieira is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.
This article was originally published originally published on July 2, 2012, on NewsWithViews.
The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.