Money – the Key to Freedom?


Money – the Key to Freedom?

 By Duncan Whitmore

In a previous essay concerning the freedom of speech, we noted that, although liberty as a whole is justified by reference to the non-aggression principle, specific freedoms can and should be promoted in their own right. Equally and oppositely, so too should individual examples of state intrusion into freedom be criticised and condemned on their own two feet. In other words, it is possible, and indeed vital, for us to explain the value of free speech, to oppose taxation, to defend against any possibility of forced vaccination and medication, to press for abolition of all forms of state funded medical care, to argue for the freedom of association, to advocate for the legalisation of vices, to promote free trade, and so on. Such arguments are likely to win us at least partial victories in the fight for freedom, victories which may not be achievable simply by repeating the non-aggression principle.

Many of these individual freedoms are enunciated also in bills of rights and charters of so-called human rights, notably the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. Here we find, amongst others, the protection of the right to religion, to speech, to bear arms, to the security of property against searches and seizures, to silence and due process when accused of a crime, and from “cruel and unusual” punishments. The defence of many of these freedoms has now become especially crucial as Western governments have continually sought to dilute them, sometimes in response to crises and calamities such as Islamic terrorism, and other times as a natural consequence of the growth of the state. It has been recognised that the freedom of speech, in particular, has been subject to a grave assault from identity politics and “cancel culture”.

However, a notable omission in many of these schedules of rights and freedoms is the freedom of money. Money is mentioned in the US Constitution, but it is buried in Section Ten of Article One, which limits the rights of the states. It has no prestigious place within the more memorable Bill of Rights, and fails to illicit the kind of passion that surrounds the First and Second Amendments. Freedom lovers today, similarly, will complain about the loss of our freedom of speech and the seemingly sudden transformation of the country into a police state as the result of the government’s reaction to COVID-19. But they will rarely turn their attention to the fact that the state has the power to print its currency, a power which has only existed in its entirety since 1971 when US President Richard Nixon severed the final tie of the US dollar to gold. Continue reading

Economic Myths #5 – Banking is Capitalist


By both mainstream economists and the general public the cycle of “boom and bust” is believed to be a tendency inherent in any capitalist economy. The fact that the latest of such cycles, beginning in 2008 (and arguably not having ended), originated in the banking sector and that large banks and bankers ratcheted up huge earnings and bonuses only to cause disaster has implicated banking as representative of the very worst aspects of capitalism – the epitome of uncontrollable greed that ends in catastrophe.

Unfortunately this popular view of the mainstream could not be further from the truth. In fact, with its intimate ties to the state and its special, legal privileges it is hard to imagine a less capitalistic industry than banking. Part of the deception – wilfully inflamed by politicians and their lackeys – is one that engulfs other industries subject to state meddling such as utilities markets. This is the belief that, simply because the participants in the industry in question are private individuals or entities that are not officially part of the state, the enterprise must be classified as part of the free market and saddled with all of the supposed flaws of that system. Very often, however, private companies and brands are simply the public facade of what is essentially a state owned operation or state controlled cartel. Continue reading

Will Hutton on How the Banks Won (and keep winning…)


Christopher Houseman

Will Hutton presented a Dispatches documentary recently on Channel 4 about the British banking cartel system.

The extent of Mr. Hutton’s connections with the previous Government were plain to see, as he treated us to an hour of breast-beating to the tune of “Why oh why do the noble politicians not rescue us from the greedy bankers?” This seems more than a little rich (in irony only, you understand). As I recall, the recent banking crisis would have lawfully removed large numbers of greedy bankers from the UK economy – but for Labour’s insistence on debasing the money supply still further to try to prop them up.

Perhaps the most informative snippet came towards the end when Mr. Hutton revealed that British banks currently lend out fifty times more money than they have on deposit, and five times more than the value of everything else the UK produces. No wonder our glorious leaders are worried about a repeat performance. Mr. Hutton’s solution? To try to force the banks to stop inflating residential property prices by switching the focus of their lending activities to (British-based?) businesses.

Sadly, Mr. Hutton didn’t tell the viewers how his proposals would avoid inflating the prices of business “assets” (commercial property, plant and machinery, R&D, properly skilled and experienced labour, etc.). Nor did Mr. Hutton explain how artificially stimulating productivity could be compatible with any conceivable form of environmental responsibility (so much for the alleged anti-environmentalism of decision-making in a free market). In fact, Mr. Hutton didn’t even tell us why businesses should apply for his proposed extra loans if they can’t be sure there are enough additional customers able and willing to pay for all the proposed new supplies of goods and services.

Chris R. Tame Memorial Lecture, by Kevin Dowd, at the National Liberal Club


Sean Gabb

I’m currently sitting in the National Liberal Club in London, getting ready for the second of our annual lectures. Tim and I did think we’d have about fifty people. In the event, we have over a hundred. Once again, therefore, we’ve had to close the list. The fire regulations do not allow any flexibility above a certain number. Unless you have told us you are coming, therefore, we cannot take any more names.

The lesson of this, if you are disappointed, is that you should not expect that you can just turn up at Libertarian Alliance events without warning. Despite the looming recession, we can still pack out the Liberal Club, and must still be strict with latecomers.

We shall publish a written text of the lecture by Kevin Dowd – which is to be all about the financial crisis and the recession, and how these were brought on by a useless, state-regulated banking system –  and I will video the whole event and make this available on the Internet.

I hope for an interesting and enjoyable evening.

Best wishes to all,

Sean

Money, States, Gold and Power. Shall we start a Silver Bank?


David Davis

I have no idea if such things exist. But a simultaneous reading of the LPUK’s manifesto section on “money”, plus a realisation of what “The Pound Sterling” meant, led me to put the title question.

It is not expected that the Bank of England, or HM treasury, owns the copyright in the term “Pound Sterling®” , or even reads this bolg, so perhaps the ® attached to “Pound Sterling“, if any, could be seized. We could become differentiated from “the Pound”, or “Sterling”, or even “The Pound in Your Pocket“.

There is much more silver in the world than Gold. King Offa of Mercia understood this very well in the 7th Century, and his standardised Silver Penny was revered for centuries. “People they do say” that only 160,000 tonnes of Gold has ever been harvested, but I think this is out of date. More like 200,000++. But this is not sufficient to back perhaps hundreds of trillions of Pounds and Dollars.

A libertarian-driven Silver Bank would issue money. But all of it would be underwritten by absolutely held silver metal, at (I suppose?) an initially agree rate per OzT. It would be desirable to call the unit of currency the Pound Sterling ®. but it would not be essential.