Understanding monetary issues is paramount in 2012 as Congress and the President, in the name of “reducing the federal debt,” will be proposing many “austerity” measures that call for slashing or privatzing/corporatizing public programs benefiting over 100 million people. It’s unlikely many of them (except for John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich, proponents of the National Emergency Employment Defense Act, HR 2990) will discuss the integral role monetary issues plays in both creating/expanding the federal debt and how we can end it by “democratizing” our money system.
That means it’s up to us, We the People, to force the issue into popular and political discussion — especially this year during federal elections. There is no need for any austerity measures to reduce and end the federal debt. We the People can issue and circulate our own money (as permitted in the Constitution, Art 1, Sec 8) debt-free — without paying banking corporations a penny of interest. We can do it without increasing inflation. And we can create more than 7 million jobs repairing our vital infrastructure.
It’s up to us -- as it’s always been when sane, humane, just and nonviolent change is at stake -- to raise and push this issue.
1817 - SECOND NATIONAL BANK OF THE US OPENS
This was the third quasi national bank of the US — following the Bank of North America (1781-1785) and Bank of the United States (1791-1811). While called a “national” bank, it was not public but actually a commercial/corporate bank with the power to issue money directly (just like its two predecessors). It issued initially a huge amount of money (more than 20 times its reserves) as loans that led to financial speculation and large corporate profits. A year later, it stopped issuing loans, resulting in a severe contraction of the money supply — which led to massive bankruptcies and the Panic of 1819. President Andrew Jackson believed the bank was a threat to the nation. He vetoed a bill in 1832 renewing the bank’s charter (license).
1879 – DATE TO REDEEM GREENBACKS FOR GOLD
Forces in opposition to public money passed the Resumption Act in 1875. It established January 1, 1879 as the date anyone could redeem federal Greenbacks for gold. Greenbacks were debt free money created by the Lincoln administration in his effort to avoid borrowing money from banks and having to pay interest. Why not simply create the money as stipulated in the Constitution (Art 1, Sec 8 giving the government the authority to coin money)? Bankers hoped most Greenbacks would be turned in – so that they could once more exclusively control the issuance and circulation of paper money – at enormous profit. Doomsayers predicted as Greenbacks were redeemed for gold, the nation would go bankrupt. Neither occurred Only $135,000 in Greenbacks were exchanged for gold – nationwide. Meanwhile, $400,000 gold was exchanged for Greenbacks! The New York Daily Tribune called the day, “the grandest page in the history of the United States.” (Jason Goodwin, Greenbacks)
1909 - BIRTH OF US SENATOR (REPUBLICAN) BARRY GOLDWATER
“The Trilateralist Commission is international and is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of commercial and banking interests by seizing control of the political government of the U.S. The Trilateralist Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power -- political, monetary, intellectual and ecclesiastical.” (Barry Goldwater With No Apologies)
1911 - US POSTAL SAVINGS SYSTEM OPENS
The Postal Savings System offered savings accounts to depositors, but no loans. When banks failed after the Great Depression, many people shifted their remaining funds. With post officers serving as bank branches, the Postal Savings System held upwards of 20% of the nation’s savings in the mid 1940’s. Commercial/corporate banks lobbied against their expansion and for their elimination — which occurred in 1967.
1977 - DEATH OF CARROLL QUIGLEY, PROFESSOR AND HISTORIAN
“The influence of financial capitalism and of the international bankers who created it was exercised both on business and on governments, but could have done neither if it had not been able to persuade both these to accept two 'axioms' of its own ideology...by basing the value of money on gold and by allowing bankers to control the supply of money. To do this it was necessary to conceal, or even mislead, both governments and people about the nature of money and its methods of operation.” (Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope)
1066 – DEATH OF KING EDWARD THE CONFESSOR
Calling usury (interest) the root of evil, the English King declared all those who charged usury outlaws and banished them from the country.
1782 – BANK OF NORTH AMERICA OPENS
This was the nation’s first private commercial bank. At that time, the nation’s constitution was the Articles of Confederation. Article 9 of the Articles gave Congress the power to “emit bills of credit” -- to create money debt free. By a single vote, Congress voted to transfer their authority to issue money to the The Bank of North America when it approved its charter on December 31, 1781. Thus, the Bank served as a quasi central bank (which created money as loans, called “debt money”). Why did Congress willingly give up their money power? The public argument was that the business of finance could not be competently conduced by a public body (Congress) — only by a small number of private financiers. The first head of the Bank was Robert Morris, the richest merchant in America.
1868 – SPEECH OF CONGRESSMAN SAMUEL FENTON (INDEPENDENT REPUBLICAN) OF OHIO ON FLOOR OF HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
“Our Constitution gives to Congress the exclusive power to coin money and regulate the value thereof... These are attributes of sovereignty and belong exclusively to the representatives of the whole people...The value of money has no relation to or dependence upon the material of which it is made. If it has the properties or powers of representing, measuring, and exchanging value it is money, and these properties or powers are not inherent in any substance, but are conferred upon any chosen material by the sovereign power....The greenback, as it has been denominated, was an invaluable expedient, backing our boys in blue and covering their backs at the same time. It served our purpose well and will serve us still if permitted. It helped us through one danger and will bear us triumphantly through another unless the cupidity of bankers, bondholders and shoddy contractors shall triumph over the industrial and tax-paying classes of our people...The first step in the right direction will be to pass a law to call in and cancel the entire bank circulation and simultaneously issue an equal quantity of Treasury certificates or legal tenders. The people having this circulation would be enabled to pay off $300,000,000 of debt and save $18,000,000 of gold interest. We will thus shorten the road to specie payments by reducing the interest-bearing debt.”
1786 – BIRTH OF NICHOLAS BIDDLE, PRESIDENT OF SECOND NATIONAL BANK
Biddle threatened to cause a depression if President Andrew Jackson did not re-charter the Bank. The privately owned Second Bank was chartered in 1816. President Jackson did not sign the bill to renew the charter. "This worthy President thinks that ... he is to have his way with the Bank. He is mistaken...[opposition] can only be broken by the actual conviction of exiting distress in the community... Our only safety is in pursuing a steady course of firm restriction [of the money supply] - and I have no doubt that such a course will ultimately lead to restoration of the currency and the re-charter of the Bank." The result of the contraction of the money supply was a financial panic followed by a deep depression. (Edward Kaplan, The Bank of the United States and the American Economy)
Why this calendar? Many people have questions about the root causes of our economic problems. Some questions involve money, banks and debt. How is money created? Why do banks control its quantity? How has the money system, been used to liberate (not often) and oppress (most often) us? And how can the money system be “democratized” to rebuild our economy and society, create jobs and reduce debt?
Our goal is to inform, intrigue and inspire through bite size weekly postings listing important events and quotes from prominent individuals (both past and present) on money, banking and how the money system can help people and the planet. We hope the sharing of bits of buried history will illuminate monetary and banking issues and empower you with others to create real economic and political justice.
This calendar is a project of the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee. Adele Looney, Phyllis Titus, Donna Schall, Leah Davis and Greg Coleridge helped in its development.
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For more information, visit http://www.afsc.net/economiccrisis.html