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!

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Paul Hein's picture
Columns on STR: 150


Samarami's picture
    '...Many similar questions to a variety of authorities have only confirmed that their “answers” are no answers at all....I’ve received no answers yet, and if I do, I fear they may be evasive and/or non-responsive....'

I submit, Paul, that you are seeking information from the wrong source(s). I mean, why would a thief attempt to present logic to you as to why s/he stole your resources??? Of course, you would have a distinct advantage with free-market robbers and thieves on that undertaking -- they are not politicians. You wouldn't expect sagacity or reason from them in the first place. You'd quickly recognize you were wasting your time.

But I can see how you'd be enjoying a spectacle of standing up, twisting around, scratching butts, sitting down, etc etc.; when attempting to elicit rational explanations from the political criminals who are the prime rustlers to the pulling off of the heist. Because they no doubt think your queries sincere, if not naive.

    "...The octogenarians among us--present writer included--can recall a vastly different America..."

I should have recognized my first signal the day I received my notice of enslavement ("military draft notice") when I walked out of high school in the early 50's. However, after 12 years of having been indoctrinated with the ideology that central political power served socially useful purposes (and deserved my -- as well as your -- support), I sincerely believed this just might be a good opportunity to "serve".

Fourteen months in a place called "Korea" solved that problem for me.

You mentioned the names of two men in history, a Thomas Jefferson and a John Adams. I submit that the individuals we know as Clinton, Trump and/or Obama have suffered no more in the way of "moral decline" than did the former gentlemen. It's just that the malignancy we like to refer to as "government" has had 200+ years to metastasize.

The Huns and the Khans of early history (our true "founding fathers" if you're a libertarian historian) came to see the absolute necessity of coining "money". You can see evidence of that in early writings.

    "...the role of money in society is of utmost importance..."

If the conqueror failed to quickly control the money supply, he'd just as well have allowed his warriors to rape the women, slaughter all the men, women, and children (as did his predecessors), leaving their carcasses to rot in the desert sand. After that they could pillage the city, leave it in burning ruins.

The Genghis Khans of history fully understood the nature of the conquered. They would soon refer to coinage (later fiat currency) as "our money".



Jim Davies's picture

Another fine piece, Paul. I don't vote, otherwise I'd rate you 10 again.
Is "moral decline" the root? Maybe. It's a tricky question, though. If the average person is less moral now than in 1935, why? To a considerable extent one's morals reflect one's upringing, and the latter was arranged by government from 1840 onwards. But then, in the 1840s the ordinary voter chose to welcome government schooling, even though he must have known it was a scheme to force his neighbor to pay for his kids' education. A vicious circle?
I'm a bit foggy about the Spanish American War, but didn't the US do some invading then, of countries incapable of attacking us? - and in 1917 wasn't there an invasion of German occupied France, when there wasn't even a whisper of Prussians marching down Fifth Avenue? As for when you and I were lads, US intervention in WW-II was "unnecessary" even for the UK, let alone this one six time zones away from that guy with a moustache.

Samarami's picture
    "...In a people adrift without a moral compass, basic things will sooner or later go awry..."

How would one define a "moral compass"? Or, for that matter, "a people". Am I a people? Or are you?

These, of course, appear to be superfluous questions. But here's one that is not: Is "without a moral compass" referring to anarchy as it is properly defined? Here I'll present Hasnas' definition and his observation:

    Anarchy refers to a society without a central political authority. But it is also used to refer to disorder or chaos. This constitutes a textbook example of Orwellian newspeak in which assigning the same name to two different concepts effectively narrows the range of thought. For if lack of government is identified with the lack of order, no one will ask whether lack of government actually results in a lack of order. And this uninquisitive mental attitude is absolutely essential to the case for the state. For if people were ever to seriously question whether government actions are really productive of order, popular support for government would almost instantly collapse.

Now, Paul, I present this quandary without intention to be argumentative. This is my succinct outline of my entire philosophy and reason for engaging in discussion on STR: I believe I must be(come) free if I am to be instrumental in assisting you or anybody else to be(come) free. Especially members of my own rapidly growing family (51 folks, including my wife and me, all the kids, kids-in-law, grandkids-in-law, grandkids and great-grandkids).

You used the term octogenarian. I'm well into that phase of life. I can't argue one way or another "...the fact that things are seriously wrong in America..." I don't have time. I've gotta deal with the things that might be wrong with ME and MINE. My freedom (and the liberty of those I love) will depend upon my (and their) ability to side-step and circumnavigate the beast at hand. My concern is the statism (or vestiges thereof) that may still be residing between my ears.

Example: Am I still using language such as "our-leaders" or "our taskmasters"? Or "our money"? Because for me to be free, I need to divorce the "our" and the "we" words. The late Delmar England, whom I see as among the very best authors on anarchy (partly because he is one of the least acclaimed among "libertarians"), calls that "the psychology of oppression".

I need to be free. Today. Here. Where I'm "at". Now. Sam