Tag Archives: Rothbard

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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Maybe the West Should Adopt Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Policy

Iran Nuclear Weapons

Prior to the modern age, when war was engaged in, combatants, for the most part, acted by a code of conduct which attempted to minimize civilian deaths and the destruction of non-participants’ property. With the onset of the democratic age and the idea of “total war” such modes of conduct have tragically fallen by the wayside, the consequence of which has made warfare far more bloody and destructive.

The ultimate violation of “just warfare” has been the possession and use of nuclear weapons which by their very nature cannot be reconciled with any notion of a civilized society.  Of all the hysteria over “terrorism,” nuclear weapons are rarely discussed anymore, but are the ultimate form of terror.

Despite the obvious fact that nuclear weapons cannot be reconciled with any moral code of warfare, Western nation-states continue to possess them and the US has actually used them in the final stages of WWII as it mercilessly bombed the Japanese civilian centers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

While most modern scholarship has abandoned the older idea of moral conduct in warfare, the great libertarian theorist, Murray Rothbard, continued the venerable tradition in his thought and applied it not only to nuclear weapons, but bombing as well:

    Not only should there be joint disarmament

of nuclear weapons, but also of all weapons

capable of being fired massively across national

borders; in particular bombers.  It is precisely

such weapons of mass destruction as the missile

and the bomber which can never be pinpoint-

targeted to avoid their use against innocent

civilians.*

He continues:

. . .  since modern air and missile weapons

cannot be pinpoint-targeted to avoid harming

civilians, their very existence must be condemned.

For a New Liverty II

It is beyond hypocritical, therefore, that the US has repeatedly accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons despite the fact that the nation’s leadership has consistently declared that it will not do so because of its religious beliefs. In June, President Trump called off retaliatory raids on Iranian targets after it downed a US drone (which had flown into Iranian airspace), citing that it would cost the lives of some 150 people.  In response, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif exposed the hypocrisy of the US’s position on nuclear weapons:

You were really worried about 150 people?

How many people have you killed with a

nuclear weapon?  How many generations have

you wiped out with these weapons?**

Zarif added:

It is us who, because of our religious views,

will never pursue a nuclear weapon.

Not only has Iran’s leadership consistently declared that it would not use or build nuclear weapons, but it has stood by its words.  During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), Iraq (with US knowledge) repeatedly used chemical weapons.  Despite Iran’s  protests to the U.N., it refused to take action – mainly because the US through its position on the Security Council tabled any attempt to curtail Iraq’s nefarious actions.***

Despite the flagrant violation of international law, Iran refused to retaliate, although it had the capacity and certain justification in doing so.  The Ayatollah, in a religious ruling – fatwa – at the time of the war, asserted that such an act (the use of chemical/nuclear weapons) was “forbidden by god.”

This has been the position of the Ayatollahs since the formation of the Islamic Republic.  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that “from an ideological and fighi [Islamic jurisprudence] perspective, we consider developing nuclear weapons as unlawful.  We consider using such weapons as a big sin.”  A top-ranking cleric, Grand Ayatollah Yusef Saanei, confirmed that this is part of Islamic doctrine:

There is complete consensus on this issue.  It is

self-evident in Islam that it is prohibited to have

nuclear bombs. It is eternal law, because the

basic function of these weapons is to kill innocent

people.  This cannot be reversed.

Sounds Rothbardian!

Despite Iranian claims to the contrary, the US and the controlled press continue to mischaracterize Iran’s position on nuclear weapons. Not only has it lied, but it continues to enact crippling sanctions on the beleaguered nation causing untold suffering which itself is an act of war.

The fact that Iran follows a moral principle which was once part of Western thought shows how far the Western world, especially the US, has declined in civility.  A return to a saner, more just position on nuclear weapons will only take place when there is a change in ideology. Under current intellectual conditions, such a change appears unlikely.  A rethinking will only take place of necessity when America has exhausted itself through debt and money printing and can no longer sustain its Empire and nuclear capabilities.

*See, Murray N. Rothbard, For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, 293.

**Reuters, “Iran Will Never Pursue a Nuclear Weapon, Says Foreign Minister.”  24 April 2019.

***Ted Snider, “Iran, Islam, and Banning the Bomb.”  Antiwar.com 30 September 2019.

 

Antonius Aquinas@antoniusaquinas

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