"History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind." ~ Edward Gibbon
Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
There doesn’t seem to be any debate about the fact that things are seriously wrong in America. The octogenarians among us--present writer included--can recall a vastly different America, with no “checkpoints” or rioting, or SWAT teams, or invasions of foreign countries which had not—and could not--attack us.
But why has this happened? What is the ultimate cause of this deterioration? As far as I am concerned, at the root of our national disintegration is a moral decline. I recall Chesterton’s remark to the effect that those who believe nothing will believe anything. And so we find our present sad state blamed upon labor unions, Muslims, corporate greed, global warming, etc.
It’s a big jump, however, from a disregard for eternal verities to a concern for the fate of the snail darter. A moral decline first manifests itself in more fundamental and basic matters. Like money--or what passes for it.
Decades ago I wrote to the head of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, asking if he could tell me whether or not our money was tangible, and, if so, what its characteristics were. Or, if not tangible, how could we know we had it? His reply was brief, and to the best of my recollection, stated that because my question was technical, he could not answer it at that time.
That was disappointing, because the role of money in society is of utmost importance. Consider this statement of Robert H. Hemphill, who was credit manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: “Money is the most important subject intellectual persons can investigate and reflect upon. It is so important that our present civilization may collapse unless it is widely understood and its remedied very soon.” Or this, by John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: “All the perplexities, confusions and distresses in America arise not from defects in the constitution or confederation nor from want of honor or virtue, as much from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.”
Hemphill was prescient: civilization is collapsing. And from my own experience, I can assert that there is profound ignorance of, and indifference to, the nature of coin, credit, and circulation. But how can this ignorance be cured? A good place to begin would be to seek knowledge from those involved with the monetary system--a “monetary” system operating, apparently, without money! As mentioned above, my own efforts in that direction proved fruitless, as the head of the local Fed seemed dumbfounded by my question. Many similar questions to a variety of authorities have only confirmed that their “answers” are no answers at all.
Recently, I have resumed the quest, thinking that perhaps, as the impending collapse of our monetary system is becoming widely recognized, those involved with it might be more forthcoming in admitting defects in the system.
Accordingly, I wrote to a member of the Senate Banking committee, to the Secretary of the Treasury, and to Janet Yellen, asking very simple and basic questions. What, exactly, is our money? How much of it constitutes a dollar? What statutes define these things?
I’ve received no answers yet, and if I do, I fear they may be evasive and/or non-responsive. Not too long ago I wrote to legislators asking similar basic questions: What is the purpose of government, and can there be a just government absent the consent of the governed? Even though I included self-addressed envelopes, I got no responses.
Society cannot function without money; its circulation is to society as the circulation of the blood is to the body--absolutely essential. In a people adrift without a moral compass, basic things will sooner or later go awry. That seems to be the case with our money, and with our government--the two are closely related! (The snail darter will have to wait his turn: first things first.) Can there be a sound society without sound money? I doubt it.
If I receive any answers from the authorities, I’ll pass them along. Don’t hold your breath!