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A Short History of American Money, From Fur to Fiat ... What do animal pelts, tobacco, fake wampum, gold, and cotton-paper bank notes have in common? At one point or another, they've all stood for the same thing: U.S. currency. ... The greenback is stable because the U.S. economy is huge and the United States is a terrific republic--OK. But it's also stable because everyone else's well-being depends on it, and on belief in its stability. That may be changing, though. As for paper money itself, the end of the gold standard meant that cash had become a total abstraction. Its value now comes from fiat, government mandate. It's a Latin word meaning let there be. In God we better trust. – The Atlantic / David Wolman
Dominant Social Theme: Money is that certain thing ... Well, we dunno exactly what it is, but here's a HISTORY of it.
Free-Market Analysis: Here's how we figure this article "went down" ...
"Hi, David, you're a contributing editor at Wired, a former Fulbright journalism fellow and a winner of the 2011 Oregon Arts Commission individual artists fellowship. You're a real bright guy and we're interested in a book on money. Why don't you write it?"
"But I don't know anything about money."
"OK! You'll learn along with your readers ... "
And so Mr. Wolman has written an article (see excerpt above) and a book called The End of Money. We looked up the book on Amazon.com, which shows it is to be published on February 14, 2012. Here's a book summary from the publisher:
For ages, money has meant little metal disks and rectangular slips of paper. Yet the usefulness of physical money—to say nothing of its value—is coming under fire as never before. Intrigued by the distinct possibility that cash will soon disappear, author and Wired contributing editor David Wolman sets out to investigate the future of money...and how it will affect your wallet.
Wolman begins his journey by deciding to shun cash for an entire year—a surprisingly successful experiment (with a couple of notable exceptions). He then ventures forth to find people and technologies that illuminate the road ahead. In Honolulu, he drinks Mai Tais with Bernard von NotHaus, a convicted counterfeiter and alternative-currency evangelist whom government prosecutors have labeled a domestic terrorist. In Tokyo, he sneaks a peek at the latest anti-counterfeiting wizardry, while puzzling over the fact that banknote forgers depend on society's addiction to cash. In a downtrodden Oregon town, he mingles with obsessive coin collectors—the people who are supposed to love cash the most, yet don't. And in rural Georgia, he examines why some people feel the end of cash is Armageddon's warm-up act. After stops at the Digital Money Forum in London and Iceland's central bank, Wolman flies to Delhi, where he sees first-hand how cash penalizes the poor more than anyone—and how mobile technologies promise to change that ...
And here's something new – an Amazon "Best Book" Review ...
Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2012: Say good-bye to your beloved Benjamins, because the world is going cashless. So says David Wolman, and in The End of Money, he explores the drastic implications. How is it happening? What's at stake? Why does it matter? ... Raising the stakes with a personal experiment, Wolman goes (almost) a full year without using cash at all. All told, The End of Money offers everything there is to love about popular nonfiction, rendering a complex subject entertaining and easily approachable for a wide audience while proving the ultimate adventurousness inherent in a curiosity about the workings of the world.
OK, very interesting, to be sure. David Wolman seems to have the "big picture knack." But we're kinda cynical about this sort of thing by now. We wonder if there are not ulterior motives here of some sort ...
As a matter of fact, we can almost hear the Anglosphere elites fizzing with frustration at the way Austrian free-market economics has taken over large chunks of the Internet. Free markets – and free money – are anathema to the elites that are trying very hard to run the world.
The last thing these great central banking families want is for people to really figure out what money is, how it's being produced and who REALLY controls it. So if you are an elite "strategist," you are constantly engaged in damage control. And you're looking for talented authors like Wolman to provide the kind of literary software you have in mind.
We wish to caution that Mr. Wolman is quite possibly not aware that he is being manipulated. (Nor could we probably ever establish factually this is so; we're speculating about the further emergence here of a larger dominant social theme.) In fact, he likely would be insulted by the concept, given that he's written an obviously successful book and doubtless needed no coercion to do it.
He might well consider such a thought a "conspiracy theory" of the most ludicrous kind. But we write about this stuff every day, and we think we see the telltale signs of Anglosphere memes in this article we've read and likely in the book we haven't.
In our humble view, the BEST damage control is the kind that tells everybody everything without making any value judgments. This is how Austrian economics was hidden from the world (by the Anglosphere on purpose in our view) for over a century. By the time an eager student had learned about Marx, Keynes and Malthus there was precious little time left over for the lesser lights like Ludwig von Mises. F.A. Hayek made the cut only because he watered down the Misesian medicine.
The trick is to load up your tome with information of equal emphases. When Marx is put on an equal footing with Schumpeter, you've got a recipe for confusion. And that's just the point, if you're trying to conceal something the way the elites tried to conceal Austrian economics for much of this past century.
We understand what's going on (or we think we do). The elites that have made it increasingly impossible to circulate gold-and-silver-as-money (or even commodity-backed paper) are taking dead aim at cash as well. This is all part of a Draconian monetary authoritarianism that the power elite apparently intends to install around the world if it can.
The powers-that-be love money – but they hate to see large amounts of it in the hands of people who don't espouse one-world government. Even worse, they hate the idea that people with large amounts of cash come by it in lawfully untraceable ways.
The elites don't just want to corner the monetary markets; they want to make it impossible for anyone else to hold significant amounts of cash, especially the unidentifiable kind. And so we get these sorts of literary exercises.
It's surely an elite dominant social theme – a fear-based promotion intended to frighten the middle classes into giving up power and wealth to elitist institutions. The idea is that cash encourages crime, drug peddling and other unsavory activities.
Of course, this isn't true but there's no doubt, in our view, that cash is being demonized around the world. Our traveling "elves" have seen shoppers in Panama fingerprinted for paying with a US$100 bill, have received cash denominations in US$20 bills because it's illegal to give out larger bills in bulk and have been fingerprinted and photographed for pursuing cash transactions.
David Wolman may not see his cashless year as more than a clever way to organize his monetary narrative, but we don't find it nearly so innocent. The powers-that-be, in our view, are very serious about wiping out cash transactions and will stop at nothing to do so.
If Wolman is not exercised about the coming cashless society, he doesn't seem very passionate about the larger monetary history he is relating. The bottom line when it comes to money is that over time it's been taken over by the state in league with private interests. This phenomenon is called "mercantilism."
Wolman (from what we can tell) sees this state takeover as a kind of inevitability. Certainly the Atlantic article treats it that way. The tone is light, the prose is adept and the lingering impression is that money can be one thing – or another – and that any money will do.
Well ... even gold-oriented Austrians would admit that money is what society has decided it is. But the sticking point here is PRIVATE society – the free market, in other words. This is the FUNDAMENTAL issue when it comes to money and the Atlantic article – and the book – seems to gloss right over it.
Finally, we're interested that the book has won (already) the Amazon "best book of the month" seal of approval. We recently wrote an article on how it seems to us that ALL technology facilities of any size are likely penetrated by Anglosphere Intel.
We're not sure why this book won "best book" – but we can hazard a guess. Amazon is drawing attention to a book that focuses on money not from a free-market standpoint but utilizing the Anglosphere's "overview" approach.
By determinedly avoiding the bottom-line conflict between state-sponsored monopoly money and free-market money, Wolman doesn't have to be drawn directly into either the current central banking controversy or the larger controversy over where "money" is headed.
For a brief, shining moment, the US had relatively free, circulating PRIVATE money, a lightly-structured republic, low and non-invasive taxes and the blessed absence of a regulatory state. The current trends toward a "cashless" society are, in our view, only exacerbating all that's wrong with the current money system in this age of global monopoly-money central banking.
A handful of elite families should NOT be controlling hundreds of trillions of dollars, nor should they now be trying to implement a fully electronic ledger around the world that will reveal exactly who is transacting with whom and why.
As long as we're harping on these points, we'll end with a final one, which is that the US dollar did NOT become the world's reserve currency because the US is a "terrific republic." It became the world's reserve currency, so far as we can tell, at the barrel of a gun. Saudi Arabia's craven dictatorship, kept in power by US force, agreed back in 1971 to accept only dollars for oil.
As the marginal producer, Saudi Arabia's sheiks have kept the dollar's primacy of place for nearly a half-century. Not only that, but the supply of oil has been rigidly controlled as a result. Mr. Wolman for all his brilliance – at least in his article – tends to treat these important issues in an easygoing way.
We think what's going on is a good deal more sinister and wish Mr. Wolman had made that point more clearly and strongly in his article – and likely in his book as well.