Category Archives: workers

The Ethics of a Gold Standard

goldstandard

The efficacy of a metallic monetary system is beyond dispute at least among real economists which eliminates just about 95% of whom are now engaged in the “profession.”  Money, which gold is, allows for specialization, the division of labor, and provides the means for mankind to escape from barter and, thus, a primitive existence.  Like free trade, money naturally integrates mankind both among and between peoples.

A system of central banking with an unbacked paper currency is the antithesis of a gold standard.  Manipulation of currencies by central banks, mostly through debasement, hinders trade, creates distortions, and ultimately leads to the dreaded business cycle.  Murray Rothbard aptly describes the baneful results of state intervention in the monetary system:

. . . government meddling with money has

not only brought untold tyranny into the world;

it has also brought chaos and not order.  It has

fragmented the peaceful, productive world

market and shattered it into a thousand pieces,

with trade and investment hobbled and hampered

by myriad restrictions, controls, artificial rates,

currency breakdowns, etc.  It has helped bring

about wars by transforming a world of peaceful

intercourse into a jungle of warring currency blocs.*

Rothbard Money

While the economic efficiency of a gold standard is important, the ethical case for it is more compelling and was the reason why gold, as money, lasted as a medium of exchange for so long.  Gold/money has to be created through honest-to-goodness production and exchange.  The often dangerous mining of gold takes labor, capital goods, and land.  Turning raw gold into coinage is another process which requires a high level of specialization and production techniques.  Both are honest and morally sound activities which make for the betterment of life all around.

The ethical standing of central banking and its issuance of unbacked currency as money through the printing press, stroke of a computer key, or via the expansion of credit cannot stand similar scrutiny.  By any appraisal, central banking is immoral.  Through the creation of money, banks stealthy transfer wealth to those who control the money supply and those closely associated with it.

The ability of central banks to create unlimited amounts of money and credit has been the greatest redistribution scheme ever conceived.  The process ultimately leads to class conflict as the wealth disparity between the politically well-connected and those outside that nexus invariably widen.

Under a gold standard, none of this would take place.

Because of their lack and often distain for economic doctrines, in particular, monetary theory, “economic nationalists” (really “economic ignoramuses”) have wrongly focused on trade as a factor in the continued decline of the middle and working classes.  China’s supposed unfair trade practices was a staple of President Trump’s campaign rhetoric and has continued through much of his first term.

The focus on trade has deflected attention from the real cause of worsening economic conditions for American workers and the enrichment of Wall Street.  Despite the blatant transfer of wealth via the Fed’s policies of suppressed interest rates and money printing since the 2008 Recession, economic nationalists continue to applaud President Trump’s tariff policies while the President continues to browbeat the Fed to do more of the same even calling for negative interest rates and more Quantitative Easing.

The Left rightly speaks out of the vast and growing inequality of wealth distribution, but like those who espouse economic nationalism, they fail to understand the reason for why the societal imbalance has occurred.  One remedy they propose – a “wealth tax” – will not address the problem.  Moreover, their “soak-the-rich” schemes would snare in their plunder (not that Leftists particularly care) many of the wealthy outside of the banking and financial sector of their legitimate, just gains.

The case for honest money must be made on ethical grounds.  The current system must be exposed and shown for the scam that it is: a massive redistribution scheme enriching the political elites and their closely aligned business and financial allies. While it is undeniable that a gold standard would lead to enormous prosperity, its reinstatement would remedy one of the great injustices that plague the world – central banking!

*Murray N. Rothbard, What Has Government Done To Our Money?  BN Publishing, 2012: 84.

Antonius Aquinas@antoniusaquinas

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The Fed’s “Inflation Target” is Impoverishing American Workers

Powell   Fed Chair Jerome Powell apparently doesn’t see the pernicious effects of inflation

At one time, the Federal Reserve’s sole mandate was to maintain stable prices and to “fight inflation.”  To the Fed, the financial press, and most everyone else “inflation” means rising prices instead of its original and true definition as an increase in the money supply.  Rising prices are a consequence – a very painful consequence – of money printing.

Naturally, the Fed and all other central bankers prefer the definition of inflation as a rise in prices which insidiously hides the fact that they, being the issuers of currency, are the real culprit for increased prices.

Be that as it may, the common understanding of inflation as rising prices has always been seen as pernicious and destructive to an economy and living standards.  In the perverted world of modern economics, however, the idea of inflation as an intrinsic evil has been turned on its head and monetary authorities the world over now have “inflation targets” which they hope to attain.

America’s central bank is right in line with this lunacy, as it has been reported that at the Fed’s “May minutes” it wants “a temporary period of inflation modestly above 2 percent [which] would be consistent with the Committee’s symmetric inflation objective.”* Translated into understandable verbiage, the Fed wants everyone to pay at least 2% higher prices for the goods they buy.

Yes, by some crazed thinking US monetary officials believe that consumers paying higher prices is somehow good for economic activity and standards of living!  Of course, anyone with a modicum of sense can see that this is absurd and that those who espouse such policy should be laughed at and summarily locked up in an asylum!  Yet, this is now standard policy, not just with the Fed, but with the ECU and other central banks.

The baneful consequence of this economic quackery is being felt by American workers as admitted by the Labor Department.  Instead of spurring expansion, inflation is eating into and depressing wages:

For workers in ‘production and

nonsupervisory” positions, the value

of the average paycheck has actually

declined in the past year.  For those

workers, average ‘real wages’ – a

measure of pay that takes inflation

into account fell – from $22.62 in

May 2017 to $22.59 in May of 2018.*

While the decline in nominal wages is not significant, the manner in which the government now calculates inflation has been skewed to understate its impact.  Under the previous calculation, the current US inflation rate is probably closer to 5%.

Wage stagnation is not new.  Average real wages peaked more than 40 years ago and have fallen in real terms ever since.  Not surprisingly, the drop in wages in real terms began soon after the US went off the last vestiges of the gold standard in 1971.

As sound theory has long ago demonstrated, the idea of economic growth through money printing is absurd.  Increases in living standards and real wages can only come about through savings, investment, and capital accumulation.  Workers who have superior tools and equipment are obviously more productive than those that do not. Yet, capital goods have to be produced and production takes place over time.  Savings allow for the production process.

The level of wages are also closely linked to savings.  The greater savings an economy has enables entrepreneurs to bid for workers and increase wage rates.  This is how wages rise – competition for labor among businessmen pushes up wage rates.  The more savings entrepreneurs have, the higher they can bid for employees.

How and why wage rates rise and how employment is created had been understood by economists of yesteryear.  Today, however, the profession is dominated by “inflationists” and monetary cranks who believe that nearly every economic problem can be solved by the printing press.  Anyone who holds such ideas cannot be taken seriously.

While the Federal Reserve may think an inflation target will create prosperity, the reality for real wages is quite the opposite.  The laws of economic science have not been repealed.  An inflation target will lead to the impoverishment of not just workers, but lower living standards for all.

inflation target.jpg

*Jeff Stein and Andrew van Dam, “For the Biggest Group of American Workers, Wages Aren’t Just Flat.  They’re Falling.”  The Washington Post.  16 June 2018 A10.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com