Dear Ed Miliband
Your focus on Disraeli is all very well but why won’t you look across the Atlantic to his contemporary Abraham Lincoln? Like you, he also had to find the way to finance what needed to be done but was initially blocked by the predatory banks.
You can solve our economic crisis quickly and permanently, by implementing the same economic solution that allowed Lincoln to win the Civil War and thus save the Union from foreign economic masters.
The bankers had Lincoln’s government over a barrel, just as Wall Street has Congress in its vice-like grip today. The North needed money to fund a war, and the bankers were willing to lend it only under circumstances that amounted to extortion, involving staggering interest rates of 24 to 36 percent. Lincoln saw that this would bankrupt the North and asked a trusted colleague to research the matter and find a solution… Colonel Dick Taylor of Illinois reported back that the Union had the power under the Constitution to solve its financing problem by printing its money as a sovereign government. Taylor said:
“Just get Congress to pass a bill authorizing the printing of full legal tender treasury notes . . . and pay your soldiers with them and go ahead and win your war with them also. If you make them full legal tender . . . they will have the full sanction of the government and be just as good as any money; as Congress is given that express right by the Constitution.”
… Lincoln took Col. Taylor’s advice and funded the war by printing paper notes backed by the credit of the government. These legal-tender U.S. Notes or “Greenbacks” represented receipts for labor and goods delivered to the United States. They were paid to soldiers and suppliers and were tradeable for goods and services of a value equivalent to their service to the community.
The Greenbacks aided the Union not only in winning the war but in funding a period of unprecedented economic expansion. Lincoln’s government created the greatest industrial giant the world had yet seen. The steel industry was launched, a continental railroad system was created, a new era of farm machinery and cheap tools was promoted, free higher education was established, government support was provided to all branches of science, the Bureau of Mines was organized, and labor productivity was increased by 50 to 75 percent. The Greenback was not the only currency used to fund these achievements; but they could not have been accomplished without it, and they could not have been accomplished on money borrowed at the usurious rates the bankers were attempting to extort from the North.
Lincoln, succeeded in restoring the government’s power to issue the national currency, but his revolutionary monetary policy was opposed by powerful forces. The threat to established interests was captured in an editorial of unknown authorship, said to have been published in The London Times in 1865:
“If that mischievous financial policy which had its origin in the North American Republic during the late war in that country, should become indurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off its debts and be without debt. It will become prosperous beyond precedent in the history of the civilized governments of the world. The brains and wealth of all countries will go to North America. That government must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe.”
Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. According to historian W. Cleon Skousen:
“Right after the Civil War there was considerable talk about reviving Lincoln’s brief experiment with the Constitutional monetary system. Had not the European money-trust intervened, it would have no doubt become an established institution.”
The institution that became established instead was the Federal Reserve, a privately-owned central bank (just like the Bank of England) given the power in 1913 to print Federal Reserve Notes (or dollar bills) and lend them to the government. The government was submerged in a debt that has grown exponentially since…
Lincoln did not invent government-issued paper money. Rather, he restored a brilliant innovation of the American colonists. According to Benjamin Franklin, it was the colonists’ home-grown paper “scrip” that was responsible for the remarkable abundance in the colonies at a time when England was suffering from the ravages of the Industrial Revolution. Like with Lincoln’s Greenbacks, this prosperity posed a threat to the control of the British Crown and the emerging network of private British banks, prompting the King to ban the colonists’ paper money and require the payment of taxes in gold. According to Franklin and several other historians of the period, it was these onerous demands by the Crown, and the corresponding collapse of the colonists’ paper money supply, that actually sparked the Revolutionary War.
The colonists won the war but ultimately lost the money power to a private banking cartel, one that issued another form of paper money called “banknotes.” Today the bankers’ debt-based money has come to dominate most of the economies of the world; but there are a number of historical examples of the successful funding of economic development in other countries simply with government-issued credit….
The objection invariably raised to government-issued currency or credit is that it would create dangerous hyperinflation. However, in none of these models has that proven to be true. Price inflation results either when the supply of money goes up but the supply of goods doesn’t, or when speculators devalue currencies by massive short selling, as in those cases of Latin American hyperinflation when printing-press money was used to pay off foreign debt. When new money is used to produce new goods and services, price inflation does not result because supply and demand rise together…
… Thomas Edison astutely observed:
“If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good, makes the bill good, also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who contribute directly in some useful way.
It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30 million in bonds and not $30 million in currency. Both are promises to pay, but one promise fattens the usurers and the other helps the people.”
Henry Ford observed at about the same time:
“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
Today we the people are starting to understand our banking and monetary system, and we are shocked, dismayed, and furious at what we are discovering. The wizard behind the curtain turns out to be a small group of men pulling levers and dials, creating an illusory money scheme that, behind all the talk and bravado, is mere smoke and mirrors. These levers are controlled by a privately-owned, unaccountable central bank … which has recently dispensed billions … in funds to its banker cronies…
“Any government that can disburse £375bn, without any accountability, is not a democratic government. It is government of, by, and, for the bankers.”
.. The bankers are scrambling, trying to patch up their crumbling creations with schemes, bailouts and sleight of hand. That effort, however, must ultimately prove futile. As investment adviser Rolfe Winkler said in a recent article:
“The great Ponzi scheme that is the Western World’s economy has grown so big there’s simply no ‘fixing’ it. Flushing more debt through the system would be like giving Madoff a few billion to tide him over. Or like adding another floor to the Tower of Babel. To what end? The collapse is already here. The question is: How much do we want it to hurt? Using the public’s purse to finance ‘confidence’ in a system that is already kaput may delay the Day of Reckoning, sure, but at the cost of multiplying our losses. Perhaps fantastically.”
The bankers are on the run, feverishly trying to use the collapse of the current system to steer us towards… a one-world private banking system and privately-issued global currency that they and only they control. We the people will not accept those solutions, however, no matter how bad things get. We demand real solutions that empower us, not further enslave us.
You are looking for an alternative to Margaret Thatcher’s TINA. Abraham Lincoln had such a solution. Ed Miliband , you and Ed Balls, can finally bring his monetary solution to fruition. Manifest the vision of Lincoln, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin… but for this to happen, we need to expose and root out the deceptive banking scheme that would enslave us to a future of debt … The time has come for democracy to rise superior to a private banking cartel and take back the power to create money once again. Incorporate the Bank of England into the Treasury and bring it back under democratic control.
Such a transformation would confront neoliberalism and even go far in creating your idea of a ‘One Nation’. Reject the neoliberal myths of supply-side economics, ‘trickle down’, Laffer curves, ‘Crowding out’, NAIRU and pandering to the transnational corporates/financial sector. The only valuable aspect of George Osborne’s disastrous economic ‘experiment’ is that it has conclusively demonstrated these mythologies as unworkable and erroneous.
PS. Mitigation of Climate change/peak oil is crying out for direct government investment. Not only would it provide new jobs, apprenticeships and new manufacturing, the UK could also be a net exporter of energy with our abundance of potential renewable resources.
PPS. Restoring (and increasing) benefits, together with ‘living wages’, is both morally desirable, and would also quickly help increase demand in George Osborne’s flat-lining economy. We also need a job’s guarantee and commitment to full employment.
PPPS. Then perhaps we could challenge the contradictions of perpetual growth?
Ellen Brown, April 8th, 2009
Originally posted on Yes! Magazine Online April 7, 2009.