Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, XII: Who Needs a Central Bank?

Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 Homestead Act had opened up access to the landed capital of the “Great American Desert.” The frontier had, of course, existed before the Act, but it needed an aggressive program of expanded capital ownership in land before most people viewed the move west as a viable option.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, XI: Wilson’s Arrogance

Unfortunately for the leader of a country that was not only confronted with a turning point in its own history, but was poised to become a major player on the world scene, Woodrow Wilson combined elitist arrogance with an essentially weak and vacillating character. He seemed to feel that he was a natural leader because of his scholarly attainments[1] and his position, regardless what he might do (or not do) with either.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, X: Wilson’s Economic Genealogy

Not surprisingly, we find that Woodrow Wilson’s economic theories — such as they were — were consistent with his political philosophy.  That is, the élite runs everything because ordinary people are incapable of running their own lives without massive State oversight and direction.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, IX: Wilson’s Political Genealogy

We have already noted that, as was manifest from his doctoral thesis, Woodrow Wilson derived his political philosophy from that of Walter Bagehot. What many people may not sufficiently appreciate is the degree to which Bagehot’s philosophy, both political and economic, derived from that of the totalitarian political philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Friday, June 24, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 25

This week’s news notes . . . which we’ll amplify on later today (we hope):

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, VIII: Wilson’s Philosophy

Even commentators favorable to Woodrow Wilson are not able to put a positive spin on his style of leadership, although they speak of it (and of Wilson) in glowing terms, e.g., “genius,” “brilliant,” “incomparable.”[1]  This was probably the result of sycophants currying favor, and not out of conviction.  As Arthur Link noted in his book on the Wilson administration,

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, VII: Consumed By Ambition

There is such a thick patina of reverence coating the reputation and presidency of Woodrow Wilson that it is extraordinarily difficult to appreciate just how great a disaster his election was for the United States. Part of this was due to Wilson’s character. The rest was the result of his philosophy of government.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, VI: The Campaign and Victory

Yesterday we finished looking at the four (or, depending on how you’re counting, four-and-a-half) major candidates during the presidential campaign of 1912 — the first and (to date) the last time two third party candidates had a significant impact on the campaign.  The Republican candidate was William Taft, the Democratic candidate was Woodrow Wilson (and William Jennings Bryan), the Progressive Party candidate was Theodore Roosevelt, and the Socialist Party candidate was Eugene Debs.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, V: The Other Candidates of 1912

Last week we took a brief look at the Republican and Progressive candidates during the presidential campaign of 1912.  After all, when it was first formed the Progressive Party was simply an offshoot of the Republican Party, whatever it has become in the century since its founding.  Today we look at the Democrat and Socialist candidates . . . which also used to be somewhat more differentiated than they have become over the past century or so.

Friday, June 17, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 24

Two of the reasons people tend to think the fourth part of the Great Depression we’re in is really recovery from a Great Recession are that 1) they confuse aggregate economic growth for individual economic benefits, and 2) they confuse speculative rises in stock prices with actual productive activity, a.k.a., economic growth.  Here’s what we’ve been doing to try and correct some of those delusions:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, IV: The Republican Candidates of 1912

As we mentioned before, the presidential campaign of 1912 was — so far as we know — the only one in which there were two significant third parties (or should that be a third and a fourth party?), one of which, the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party came very close to gaining the White House.  Today we’ll look at the candidates to give us an understanding of how this happened:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, III: The Responses

The question in the U.S. presidential campaign of 1912 was what to do about the increasing powerlessness of ordinary people, and the concentration of power in the private and public sector élites. Five primary responses developed. There were seemingly endless variations on these responses, but we think that the following is an adequate, if broad, summary:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, II: The Campaign of 1912

The United States presidential campaign of 1912 was, all things considered, unique in American history.
It is common to say such things about one’s subject, of course, but in this case we believe it is warranted. It is, for example, the only campaign in which two third parties played a significant role. These were the Progressive Party, which ran Theodore Roosevelt as its candidate, and the Socialist Party, which ran Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wilson and the Fed, I: The Situation

There is no doubt that the United States — the world — was in deadly peril in the early years of the twentieth century. The last safety valve for the human race, the chance to own landed capital in America by taking advantage of the Homestead Act, had been shut off in the closing years of the nineteenth century.

Friday, June 10, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 23

A lot has been going on this week, so we won’t waste your time or ours by pointing out something obvious like the stock market is a mess, politics is crazy, or academia is in a shambles:

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Is Money a Commodity?

Yes, we know we said we might talk about Glass-Steagall today.  The key word there was “might.”  What happens quite often, especially if blog posting is pretty far down on your list of priorities, is that sometimes you just happen to get a ripping good idea . . . or at least one easier to rip out when other work is starting to pile up.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Eleven Fun Facts About . . . Money!

We were going to go with “Money Jeopardy” after the television quiz show, but decided that’s the title for a different posting . . . about how our monetary system is so screwed up as to put the whole concept of money itself in jeopardy.  What we’re after today are just a few fun facts about finance, the things you don’t think about, but should.  (We were going for ten, but ended up with eleven.  Go figure.)  For starters —

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Reaction to Resilience, III: How to Make the System Resilient

Yesterday we promised to take a look at how the financial system might be restructured to make it resilient.  Believe it or not, this is a very simple thing to do, although you don’t want to confuse “simple” and “easy.”

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Reaction to Resilience, II: What is the Role of the Bank?

Last week we looked at the question of whether the State has the sole right to “create money.”  Understanding that money is anything that can be accepted in settlement of a debt, and that it is therefore the medium through which I exchange what I produce for what you produce,  we concluded that not only does the State not have the sole right to “create money,” it doesn’t have a legitimate right to “create money” at all.  By issuing claims against what other people and organizations produce, the State is, in fact, stealing.

Friday, June 3, 2016

News from the Network, Vol. 9, No. 22

Today’s newspaper announced that the U.S. “jobs market” is the best it’s been in years, while the “jobs” data released today declared that “job growth” has reached a five-year low.  Setting aside the obvious contradiction and the whole idea of a “jobs market” (how, exactly, do you market and distribute “jobs”?), and the plunge in the stock market (the Dow is down about 100 as of this writing), the question remains, How do you make a “jobs market” grow?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Reaction to Resilience, I: Can the State Create Money?

We got the following comment to our posting on “financial resilience” the other day.  It is valuable in that it states fairly concisely the errors that many people have about money, credit, banking, and finance, most of which are rooted in some variation of Georg Friedrich Knapp’s “chartalism,” i.e., the idea that “money” is peculiarly (Keynes’s word) a creation of the State, and the absolutist State has the power to “re-edit the dictionary” to make contracts conform to its needs, regardless of the intent of the original parties to the contract.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Is Freedom Necessary?

Any lawyer knows (or should know), that when we in CESJ say that private property and the other natural rights are absolute, we do not mean absolute in their exercise. We have always tried to make certain that we clearly distinguished between the natural right to be an owner (the right to property), from the necessarily limited and socially determined exercise of property (the rights of property). The right to be an owner is inherent or absolute in every human being. Were that not so, then he or she, lacking the capacity to acquire and develop virtue through the exercise of humanity’s natural rights, could not be defined as “human.”