Center for progressive economics

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CPE Articles, Essays and Position Papers


Benjamin Franklin-From autobiography

In one year, the conditions [of the Colonels] were so reversed that the era of prosperity ended, and a depression set in, to such an extent that the streets of the Colonies were filled with the unemployed… The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been that England took away form the colonies their money, which created unemployment and dissatisfaction (Currency Act of 1764). The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the PRIME reason for the Revolutionary War.

President James Garfield

Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce… And when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.

Horace Greeley-about Coinage Act of 1873

We have stricken the shackles from four million human beings and brought all laborers to a common level, not so much by the elevation of the former slaves as by practically reducing the whole working population, white and black to a condition of serfdom. While boasting of our noble deeds, we are careful to conceal the ugly fact that by our iniquitous money system we have nationalized a system of oppression which, though more refined, is not less cruel than the old system of chattel slavery.

President Abraham Lincoln

Abstract of Lincoln’s Monetary Policy
Library of Congress
No.23, 76th Congress, 1st session, page 91

Money is the creature of law, and the creation of the original issue of money should be maintained as the exclusive monopoly of national government.

  1. Money possesses no value to the state other than that given to it by circulation.
  2. Capital has its proper place and is entitled to every protection. The wages of men should be recognized in the structure of and in the social order as more important than the wages of money [interest].
  3. No duty is more imperative for the government than the duty it ;owes the people to furnish them with a sound and uniform currency, an of regulating the circulation of the medium of exchange so that labor will be protected from a vicious currency [private bank-created, interest-bearing debt], and commerce will be facilitated by cheap and safe exchanges.
  4. The available supply of gold and silver being wholly inadequate to permit the issuance of coins of intrinsic value or paper currency convertible into coin of intrinsic value or paper currency convertible into coin in the volume required to serve the needs of the People, some other basis for the issue of currency must be developed, and some means other than that of convertibility into coin must be developed to prevent undue fluctuation in the value of paper currency or any other substitute for money intrinsic value that may come into use.
  5. The monetary needs of increasing numbers of people advancing towards higher standards of living can and should be met by the government. Such needs can be met by the issue of national currency and credit through the operation of a national banking system [or designated monetary authority.] The circulation of a medium of exchange issued and backed by the government can be properly regulated and redundancy of issue avoided by withdrawing from circulation such amounts as may be necessary by taxation, re-deposit and otherwise. Government has the power to regulate the currency and credit of the nation.
  6. Government should stand behind its currency and credit and the bank deposits of the nation. No individual should suffer a loss of money through depreciation or inflated currency of Bank bankruptcy.
  7. Government, possessing the power to create and issue currency and credit as money and enjoying the right to withdraw both currency and credit from circulation by taxation and otherwise, need not and should not borrow capital at interest as a means of financing government work and public enterprises.
  8. The government should create issue and circulate al the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of the consumers.
  9. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity.
  10. By adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts, and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government.
  11. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power.

William Jennings Bryan

Excerpt from “Cross of Gold’ speech

The money problem facing the country from 1789 to 1896 existed because Congress never exercised is authority to “coin money or regulate the value thereof” – but rather delegated that authority, sometimes by charter and sometimes by default, to the banking system. This despite the provision in the Constitution that charged Congress with the power to ‘coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standards of weight and Measures.”

Congressman Charles A. Lindberg (Sr.)
His book “Banking and Currency and The Money Trust”

Creating money out of commondities like gold and silver and legislating value into them by making them legal tender is the worst possible policy and the greatest limitation placed upon advancing civilization. It would be the same principle, though not in degree, as would be the printing and giving of legal tender paper money by the government to persons who give no consideration in return. Neither gold nor any other metal or commodity should be stamped with a value and made a legal tender. Commodities may properly be stamped with their quality and weight so that stamp may be used as exchange in commerce on their own merits. Neither person nor property is entitled to any specially conferred government privileges. To coin metal and make it legal tender gives a special value to metal which enablers those possessing it to take undue advantage of the rest of us. ..If gold is worth all they claim for it, it needs no extra function. If, on the other hand, it is not able to retain its present relative value without being legal tender, then that is positive proof that it should not be legal tender. In the one case it is unnecessary, in the other case it is unjust.

Other quotes by Lindberg

Those not favorable to the money trust could be squeezed out of business and the people frightened into demanding changes in the banking and currency laws which the Money Trust would frame.

The government prosecuted other trusts, but supports the money trusts.

President Woodrow Wilson

I am a most unhappy man.  I have unthinkingly ruined my country.  A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit.  Our system of credit is concentrated.  The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men.  We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Government in the civilised world – no longer a Government by free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of a small group of men.