"We are fast becoming a nation of panhandlers."  ~Frank Chodorov

Seeking Answers in an Upside Down World. 

(Caveat Emptor)

News and opinion from all over the political universe. 

Much of it to be taken with several grains of salt.

January 25th, 2021

MAIL:  The Editor                                                                                                                                            

     Gov't says "Beware of Scams"
   Our grandmother called the telephone "The Devil's Trumpet." She was born in the 19th century before Graham Bell had the kinks worked out of the instrument and, in her youth, decided it was a device for delivering bad news or ringing for you when you were least prepared to stop whatever you were doing to answer it. 

     Her view cross out mind recently when examining a mailing piece from the Social Security Administration that warned the recipient to "Beware of Scams."  Con artists are busy pestering people via telephone warning them their Social Security number has been used for some malicious purpose and instructs the answerer to "press 1" for further information."  The government apparently is too busy with politics to mount an effort to trace and trap some of these robo-call pests. The best it can do is print a warning about the scam.  Ripoff robo-calls are are accepted as one of life's little irritations about little can be done. 

     As Frank Chodorov remarked many years ago, (see quote upper left) we have become a nation of panhandlers.  Even legitimate robo-calls, such as the ones "raising funds for police, firefighters, military veterans," etc., fail the bright light of close investigation.  Besides, where is it written that we must pay for a telephone service and be beseiged by unwanted sales pitches from ANYBODY? 

      And what about those calls from people with foreign accents pretending to represent some medical agency that recommends you for a back brace? 

    Former OMB Director, David Stockman, sounds off on the Trump years, particularly criticizing "....the TV networks and print organs of the mainstream stenographers club, who peddle the state’s propaganda and call it news. This most especially includes the masters of mendacity at CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post."  ORANGE MAN GONE

    "Mainstream stenographers club"?  That's a good one. Thanks to the Internet and social media, "news" and commentary are easily available. TV outlets are famous for showing screen shots of "tweets" and other texts.  And what would network and local TV do without those over-repeated jiggly video scenes recorded on amateur iPhones?

     Speaking of jiggly video scenes, what has got into video advertising producers?  We and the Missus usually mute video ads because they force us into guessing games for which we have no time. Micro-second scenes flash by too fast to comprehed.  How does a 10th of a second glance at speeding cars actually SELL cars? They may promote reckless driving but they certainly don't convey sales messsages. And the SOUND effects! Someone has decided that noisy music and swooshing sounds must accompany every word an announcer speaks. Mature viewers with hearing deficiencies are at a severe disadvantage.

    We remember the days when radio announcers were requested to "add recorded music behind their spoken announcements." It was thought to enhance the presentation. (1940s.) The era of the disc jockey had come into being and wall-to-wall music was thought to attract audienes, especially motorists. But the beat of rock and roll had not yet dominated popular music and the twang of guitars and the beat of drums was not common on dominant AM radio. It was also an era when large Webster's dictionaries were available to staff. Announcers were urged to consult them when in doubt.

    The pace of life and noise surrounding it seemed more peaceful in those days. Could the racket of modern life be affecting the average population? Does loudness truly improve the efficiency or audio/video advertising?

    U.S. citizens could not own gold coins or gold-backed paper currency from 1934 to late 1975. 
Citizens went along with the silly idea with barely a whimper.

    President Gerald Ford signed the bill allowing Americans to own  gold again  in September, 1975.  A wide selection of gold (and silver) bullion coins is available from mints all over the world.  The one ounce U.S. gold bullion coin is legal tender in the amount of $50.00.  Should you try to pay taxes with this gold coin or deposit it in your bank accoout you would be credited with fifty dollars - not the market value of the gold. 

         The call-in of circulating gold in the early 1930s was not "confiscation" in the strict meaning of the word.  Each ounce was paid for at the going rate of $20.67 per troy ounce.  Silver coins remained in the pockets of the people and as well as backing for paper silver certificates.  Silver was not pulled from circulation until the mid 1960s.  By 1971 the U.S. cut the last tie too precious metal backing of currency.  Anyone owning certificates or notes promising redeemability in gold or silver is out of luck. 

     The U.S. had melted its gold coins in the 1930s and much of it was stowed in vaults at Fort Knox in Kentucky. The government had repriced a troy ounce of gold from $20.67 to $35.00 thereby reducing the value of the gold backed paper dollar by nearly 40 percent. A windfall for the government. But U.S. bullion gold coins were  not to be had. In the mid '70s South Africa had been minting bullion gold since 1967 and its Kruggerands, containing a troy ounce of gold, had been in high demand around the world. We recall having to pay something over $400 in the 1970s for one at a local  coin store and tucking it away in the sock drawer.  We still have it, although it resides now in a safer place than a common bureau drawer. Last we looked a gold Krugerrand containing a troy ounce of the yellow metal retailed at more than $2,300!  A good illustration, we think, of the power of precious metal money to convey value (purchasing power) over long stretches of time. Its relative scarcity  and durability gives it value, which is why it served successfully as money for so long. Silver is far more plentiful than gold which is why its dollar value is so low in comparison. The ratio of silver to gold in the earth's crust is about 15 to 1.

We were born about six months before the great crash of 1929.
We thought we'd leave the planet before another one. But. . .
   Maybe.  Maybe not.  Our luck in health matters seems to run hot and cold.  We must wait to see what fate delivers.

      In the meantime we ponder the fractious news of the day trying to plot a secure path to the end of life's journey. 

      In the 1970s when inflation was raging in the American economy we had the good fortune to fall in with a group of scholars who ran a group called The Committee for Monetary Research and Education.  This gave us the opportunity to meet and interview the likes of Dr. Henry Hazlitt, Don Kemmerer (whose dad was the famous "Money Doctor" of the early 20th century fixing the failed currencies of nations like Argentina), Ed Vieria, and many other economists who believed monetary inflation was a terrible mistake.  When we asked Dr. Hazlitt what to do about it he said, "Balance the federal budget at the earliest possible moment."  Of course that never happened.

      Each March a large group of us would meet for three days at the Harriman mansion north of New York City (it had been deeded to Columbia University and sat on a mountain top at Harriman, NY.)  The general concensus was that the U.S. made a major mistake abandoning gold-backed money in March, 1933, and in doing so opened the door to fiat money and the onset of expanded central government usually attracted to the sociealist style of governance.
     Our old CMRE comrades are now retired or dead.  In the 50 years since the organization was founded we have acqired most of their publications and peruse them often looking for errors in theory.  We can't find many so we'll keep plugging their call for a return to sound money as long as we're able.  (CMRE HISTORY)

P.S. If you invested in bitcoin when it reached $40,000 you may be disappointed today to note the price has dropped nearly $3,400 as of noon Jan.11th.  This is not the trend cryptocurrency promoters were hoping for. 

An argument favoring a debate on sound money.
A small fraction of the population prefers a return to honest money. 
The voting majority, however, is gung ho for debt-based currency.

Imagine the mess civilization would be if there were no universal standards of measurement. We could not have achieved civilization in the first place.

It is taken for granted that 16 ounces constitute a pound and that 8 furlongs (5,280 feet) equal one mile. No one questions there are 2 pints in a quart or 60 minutes in an hour. Weight, distance, time - there are precise standards for measuring almost everything. Except money.

Strangely enough, people willingly measure their economic transactions with something that is based on no strict standard of value at all! The U.S. dollar.

The dollar once had a precise physical dimension. It was a coin containing 371.25 grains of pure silver. Later the dollar was also defined as 22.32 grains of gold. Eventually a piece of paper representing itself as a "dollar" came into common use because it could always be exchanged for an actual silver dollar or gold money at any time. In time the general population forgot the paper certificates or notes merely represented actual money. Until late 1963 Federal Reserve notes clearly stated they could be "redeemed in lawful money." No one noticed when the printed  promise was quietly removed from the notes.  The president had just been assassinated and we were busy with that.

U.S. dollars now exist chiefly as mere digits in countless computers and also as paper notes circulating in denominations from $1.00 to $100.00. By definition they are IOUs, although they are generally accepted in payment because the government has declared them legal tender. (Some merchants maintain the right to refuse higher denominations of notes such as $50.00 and $100.00. Their refusal is entirely legal.)

Circulating coins, the smallest fraction of the money supply, are not IOUs. However, with the exception of the five-cent piece they don't contain metal that is valued anywhere near their face value. When the dollar was a silver coin the half-dollar, quarter-dollar, and dime contained silver proportionate to their denomination. The cent and nickel were created for change-making in small transactions and contained no silver. Hence, their physical dimensions had nothing to do with those of the dime, quarter-dollar, half-dollar, and dollar.

Gold and silver coins emerged long ago as useful money because they were perceived as valuable and durable. They became widely accepted as media for exchanges in the marketplace. Money held about the same value as the items exchanged. For instance, a bushel of corn might be worth 30 grains of silver which, in turn, might trade for a pair of leather sandals. The exchange was actually corn for sandals, but a small silver coin containing 30 grains of silver made the exchange far more convenient than direct barter. The coin eliminated the need to exchange goods or services on the spot. Goods could be traded for money and the money, a carrier of actual value, could be exchanged for goods or services of like value at a later time. We should not forget, that the economic basis in the 21st century is the same as it was millennia ago.  We still trade goods and services for goods and services, although that fact is little understood because of the nature of the  popular medium of exchange...the fiat dollar.

In addition to store of value and medium for exchanges, money used to be a standard of measure. The silver content was guaranteed by a trusted authority whose mint struck coins of equal quality and precise content.

That was it in a nutshell; To be an efficient measuring device money had to 1/ be widely accepted as a medium of exchange, 2/ store value over time, and 3/ be a reliable standard of measure.

Today's money no longer is a reliable store of value. Nor is it a standard of measure. That is, it has no uniform dimension. It may be a piece of paper in the form of a Federal Reserve note (an IOU) or a "Presidential Dollar" coin or four quarter-dollar copper-nickel coins containing 20 cents worth of metal. It's more apt to have no physical existence at all, existing only as digits in the bowels of bank computers.

Money once had intrinsic value and was wealth. Now it has become only a promise of wealth and even experts have trouble defining the noun "dollar."

A return to an honest money standard is said to be impossible. Opponents of sound money argue that people now pin their hopes on the paper promises that masquerade as money, and therefore shouldn't be forced to return to the straight-jacket of a money standard mandated by the U.S. Constitution. In support of sound money, however, we point to the remarkable 19th century which saw the United States rise from open hearth cooking and candles for lighting to stoves, electricity, automobiles, and other modern conveniences. All in a single century, and most of it under the discipline of sound money. A century of enormous material  progress despite the economic setback of the Civil War.

. Lacking a reliable measuring device for economic transactions is a serious impediment to advancing society. We are obviously on the brink of an American downfall caused by the self-inflicted wound of debt-based currency. Never in all of history has a fiat currency ever led to anything but economic catastrophe.

The bottom line; civilization has precise standards of measurement for almost everything but money. A way must be found to make that fact clear among the general population so a conversation about re-establishing sound money can begin. Sadly, it may take a monetary collapse to draw widespread interest to the subject.   

 ~John Wrisley