Before I got into libertarianism, I never thought much about the nature of money. Like most people, I spent plenty of time thinking of how to get more or what I would like to spend it on, but exploring the underlying concepts never occurred to me until I started learning about libertarianism.
To hear the libertarians tell it, we have few political problems that could not be explained by monetary policy. Back in the good old days, money was mostly gold and silver, or notes which one could redeem for gold or silver. This had some considerable advantages in their view, most notably that it made expansion of the money supply a rather difficult task. Whereas today money is created digitally in bank accounts, or “printed out of thin air”, back then, the only way to create money was to mine the precious metals.
Rapid and perpetual expansion of government is impossible without the ability to print money, and try though the alchemists might, they never did figure out a way to print gold. Governments require money to expand their power, and raising taxes is rarely popular, so today’s “fiat” money system provides the State with the ability to spend more than it collects in taxes, by inflating the money supply. Thus, if you are someone who is interested in limiting government power, going back to “the gold standard” seems like an appealing option.
I bought into this completely myself. Over the years I probably talked more about monetary policy than any other single topic as I tried to convince anyone who would listen to me to become a libertarian.
So attached was I to the gold standard, that when my friends started talking about Bitcoin, I ridiculed it as just another “fiat currency”. As time went by, and Bitcoin’s value skyrocketed, I was compelled to reconsider.
As the focus of the Radical Agenda shifted from economics to demographics, this subject has not gotten nearly enough attention. I recently was a guest on Heel Turn with Eric Striker, and we got into an economics discussion where monetary policy was briefly touched upon. Eric understandably assumed that I was still a gold standard advocate, but I was no longer certain that I was. It occurred to me in that moment that I was not entirely certain what sort of monetary system I favored, and so I tossed around a few ideas without holding a solid position. I spent some time thinking about this after the stream ended.
Having been heavily involved in the cryptocurrency scene since my release from jail, on account of not having access to a credit card processor, I’ve watched in despair as the value of my holdings changed dramatically from day to day, and even hour to hour. This made me do a lot of thinking about price stability, which I’ve become convinced is a very important feature of a monetary system. Currency speculation has its perks, but it is not something the average person is going to want to deal with on a regular basis.
Gold and silver have their ups and downs in terms of exchange rates, but have been a lot more stable than crypto, and have a tendency to go up with time against fiat currencies as those systems are inflated. However, imposing financial restraint on the government is no longer my highest political priority. Having become convinced that we must wield political power to prevent our enemies from wielding it against us, I rather appreciate the flexibility that comes with being able to create money on demand.
That said, I still find the Federal Reserve system rather offensive. The Federal Reserve is, in essence, a private bank with government privileges. It loans money into existence at interest, creating a scenario where the amount of debt in the system always exceeds the amount of money in existence to pay it back. This is usurious, and causes too many problems for me to list in a two hour podcast.
I then contemplated the Treasury Department issuing the money instead of the central bank, and spending it into existence instead of lending it. If managed responsibly, I suspect this could be a significant improvement over the woes of the present system. Responsible management though, seems to be a rather big “if”.
As I went through all of this, I figured the best way to reach a conclusion on the subject would be to talk about it with somebody who was really smart, and had similar political goals. I could think of no better person for this than Jared Howe, and he joins us today for the duration of the pogrom.
There’s a lot more to get to, plus your calls at 740-I-AM-1488 or Radical Agenda on Skype.
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