Robert P. George's Cross of Gold
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Dec 02, 2010 at 02:27:19 PM EST
"Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

                               -William Jennings Bryan, July 8, 1896

I recently discussed how the Right has howled about the judicious use of debt and taxes to ensure a sound economy for the past thirty years.  Now Catholic neocon-turned-Tea Party avatar Robert P. George is leading a a coalescing alliance of economic and social conservatives that aims to crucify common prosperity, once more, upon a cross of gold.

After the Panic of 1893, the nation was suffering from a period of deflation -- the downward spiral of prices and wages. Farmers were among the hardest hit. Crop prices dropped the point where many faced financial ruin.

Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, campaigned in the election of 1896 against the Republican economic plan of setting the value of the dollar to the value of the amount of gold the United States held in reserve. At his party's convention Bryan gave his famous Cross of Gold Speech.  Therein, he accused the Republicans of failing to employ commodity or "demand-pull" inflation (as opposed to wage inflation, an increase in prices for commodities such as agricultural products, petroleum or minerals) as a means if checking deflation.

Now, more than a century after Bryan's historic speech, and almost eighty years since FDR ended it -- the gold standard is rising in our national discourse like zombies from the grave in a bad horror movie.

Back then, before the creation of the Federal Reserve System, Bryan was arguing for a monetary standard based upon bimetallism -- one that would have established a fixed rate of exchange between gold and silver. The economic landscape has changed since then, but the role of governmental action to improve the standard of living remains an issue.

Inflation pegged to increases in worker productivity is the reason why a couple that bought a house in 1960 saw their fixed mortgage become more manageable with each passing year. Moderate increases in wage inflation make debt more manageable for the employed. It also reduces the reliance upon tenuous credit. In other words, a judicious amount of annual inflation is a vital component of wealth creation and thus, economic liberty for the many, not just the few.

The web site The Aporetic explains why the Right is getting so gold buggy:

People who like the idea of a gold standard like the idea that gold has "real," "intrinsic" value, which is a fancy way of saying it just is valuable, in the same way that lead is heavy. "Value," they argue, is a property installed in gold by God or nature. An economy based on gold is thus an economy founded in natural law: gold bugs dream of an economy which government can't tamper with. All values will be "real" values. The government can't issue more gold, so it can't create debt by simply printing more money.

Slate ran a good piece on what would happen if we returned to the gold standard. You can add to that rapid deflation and spikes in interest rates. Deflation sounds good, except that interest rates would spike while the prices manufacturers and businesses could get for their goods would collapse. Deflation was precisely the problem in 1932. But one set of people would benefit to a remarkable degree, and that is, those who hold capital, e.g the rich.  The value of their money would sky-rocket, as would the price they could demand for lending it.

Get it? As wages go down, workers rely more and more on credit instead of their own earnings to obtain property and services. In short, the American economy goes from being one made up of upwardly mobile individuals to larger numbers of debtors in living in one huge company town. This is not exactly the concept of individual liberty envisioned by Adam Smith in 1776.

There was no better example of the way that the Right is campaigning against the controlled use of inflation than recent comments by Sarah Palin.

Palin - echoing Glen Beck, attempted to take on the Wall Street Journal over the rising costs of groceries, erroneously implying that food prices are a reliable indicator of overall inflation (they are not, as explained below).

The problem with Palin's analysis is that food and fuel costs are so volatile that they are not counted as a core indicator of inflation. Paul Krugman pointed out, for example, that over the past decade, food prices have not been that far a field of the general rate of inflation, which in and of itself is practically non-existent. If anything, there is a much greater risk of overall deflation.

What the gold bugs like Glen Beck, Palin and George won't acknowledge is that the economy could use a bit of moderate wage inflation, the type that does not exceed increases in the percentage of worker productivity, but keeps pace with it.  The reason they won't say anything about it is that it requires the use of the other defamed economic tool, taxation.

There is nothing new about  gold bugs. But what is new is Religious Right strategist and well-connected GOP neocon of Robert P. George's emergence as a leader of the contemporary gold bug brigade. I suspect that George sees that advocating a doctrine of classical, laissez-faire economics enhances his appeal with non-Catholic fundamentalist Protestant Reconstructionists

In short, it makes for good coalition building on the far right. As Julie Ingersoll recently at observed at Religion Dispatches:

For the former Alaska governor's audience, though, her attack on the Fed is adequate-shall we say-stimulus. In the Tea Party's short life, the Federal Reserve has been a target of its oppositional rage, spurred by Tea Party godfather Rep. Ron Paul's persistent calls to eliminate it.

While Paul's anti-Fed crusade is widely thought of as economic libertarianism, the roots of this combat lie in a theocratic reading of the Bible, arising out of the nexus between Paul (and now his son, Senator-elect Rand Paul), Howard Phillips and his Constitution Party, and Gary North and the Christian Reconstructionists.

This supposed Biblical prosciption against the Fed -- as well as inflation -- is described by Gary North:

The Bible is clear on three legal principles: (1) monetary debasement is wrong (Isaiah 1:22); (2) multiple indebtedness, which is the basis of fractional reserve banking, must not be allowed (Exodus 22:26) ; (3) weights and measures must not be tampered with (Lev. 19:36). All three are violated by modern economic policy.

That's why it is so significant that the gold standard is a featured issue of George's American Principles Project. The goal of Gold Standard 2012 is "...to reach out to lawmakers to advance legislation that will put the U.S. back on the gold standard."  They claim to be alarmed about the "...explosive growth of government and unrestrained deficit spending kicked into high gear by the Obama administration and the 111th Congress..." But I suspect that their real concern is Keynesian economics.

Using deficits to create aggregate demand and then judiciously using taxation to pay down the resulting debt (which simultaneously applies the brake to any possible resulting inflation), has a proven track record.

Add to my suspicions the vital role that organized labor plays in increasing wages. We must remember that many of the economists Robert P. George and friends subscribe to (Amity Shlaes, Richard A. Epstein) believe that if workers would just work for lower wages, unemployment ceases to be a problem. This is economic conservatism's dirty little secret -- the exposure of which is liberalism's opportunity.

And this brings us back to William Jennings Bryan. He is speaking to us from the past. Bryan's unimpeachable credentials as fundamentalist Christian refute the Reconstructionists who cite inflation as sinful.  And he fully understood the perils of wealth inequality built solely upon political power.

And to that end, in 1896 Bryan reminded the nation who creates wealth:

When you come before us and tell us that we shall disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your action. We say to you that you have made too limited in its application the definition of a businessman. The man who is employed for wages is as much a businessman as his employer. ... The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a businessman as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain. The miners who go 1,000 feet into the earth or climb 2,000 feet upon the cliffs and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured in the channels of trade are as much businessmen as the few financial magnates who in a backroom corner the money of the world.

More than a century later, Bryan still refutes the zombie gold bug madness of Robert P. George. Yes, like the Princeton neocon Bryan was orthodox in his Christianity. But unlike George, Bryan did not put his faith at the disposal of his generation's oligarchs. Instead, he tried to to use it to improve the lot of all God's people.




Related Posts:

The Meaning of Wealth

The Miserly Society

Catholic Tea Party Economics

Catholic Right: Are the Neo-Cons Out and the Tea-Partiers In?

Catholic Neocons Distort Church Teachings on Economics




Display:
RPG has to know that by his close connections to orthodox Catholic hierarchs (Archbishop Dolan, for example) as well as his obvious outreach to very fundamentalists such as Hagee, he is clearly trying to cloak his gold standard advocacy in religious overtones.

It is nothing less than imprimatur by association.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Thu Dec 02, 2010 at 02:29:08 PM EST


I'm so grateful that you understand the basic economics behind what RPG is doing and why. It's unfortunate that your writings don't reach a wider audience. What additionally worries me is that George, besides being linked to the US right, is also a member of the international cable of financiers loosely based upon membership in Opus Dei. There is a trans-national aspect also to what he does and why.

by bettyclermont on Thu Dec 02, 2010 at 05:03:58 PM EST

I hate to say it, but I believe our political and religious institutions are failing us. Beck sells overpriced gold to the people who may or may not be able to afford it, and the theocrats marry the worst of capitalism with the most rigid belief in their own righteousness, which is dangerous to everyone outside of their narrow economic and political views.

Gary North's selective reading of the Torah ignores the concept of the year of jubilee. I fear this will end badly for most people, and George fails to realize just how much hardship his economic panacea will create for ordinary people. Maybe he thinks he can lock the gates against the hardship, but he may find out he can't do so.

by khughes1963 on Thu Dec 02, 2010 at 08:52:55 PM EST

They WANT people to be in hardship.  After all, it's a Pentecostal/Dominionist/Whatever teaching that hardship draws people to God, and so hardship is considered a GOOD thing.  (And of course, when "sin" stops, the suffering stops because "God fixes everything!")  They also like to prattle the scripture about suffering creating character (or endurance in the RSV), and will throw that in the face of someone who has suffered unjustly, rather than trying to help or comfort them.  This also further demonstrates that they consider suffering to be a good thing.

That thinking helps one to make sense of their machinations to try to create misery and suffering for the people they've targeted (either for conversion or for re-conversion).  They think they are helping God by bringing suffering to innocent people.   Of course, they consider anyone NOT like them to be sinners!

I'd bet that those jack*sses are fully aware of what the actual results of their movement would be, but that for them is a desired goal.  I firmly believe that the elites in this country want the rest of us reduced to slavery in one form or another, with themselves as masters.

Thus, I consider this is just another deliberate attempt to create conditions for more conversions - even though in my observation, all suffering does is make people miserable.  It is a move to bring more people under their power and control.

(Caveat: I HAVE observed that the comfortable and the ignorant do generally turn to religion when things get a bit rocky for them.  In this case, they turn to their oppressors for comfort, and thus supporting Marx in his comment about religion being an opiate.)

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 10:39:54 AM EST
Parent




WWW Talk To Action


Hallelujah, Mike Huckabee, Hallelujah
Fox News personality Mike Huckabee had a defining moment in the wake of the Newtown massacre. One that as we enter the 2016 presidential......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Moses And Michele: Departing Member Of Congress Spreads More Misinformation
The Religious Right's Moses fixation continues to grow.As you might recall, the Texas State Board of Education recently demanded social studies textbooks that highlight......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Christian Right Silent about Bob Jones U Sex Abuse Report
One of the deep scandals of our time, and apparently times past, is that sex abuse, particularly of children, has been so tolerated and......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Boot These Bigoted Bans: Movement Seeks To Remove Anti-Atheist Bias From State Constitutions
Eight states still have provisions in their constitutions that either bar atheists outright from holding public office or require people to believe certain things......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
James Madison and Tax-Supported Chaplains
In light of former Sen. Rick Santorum's recent silly declaration that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution,......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Death to Obama; Death to "Homos"; What's Next?
When the Obama administration was young, threats against the president were common, and sometimes quite public. One notorious such incident was that of Rev.......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Rick Scarborough's America
When Stand Up Sunday was convened by Mike Huckabee in Houston it was to feature the leading spokesmen for the Religious Right agenda.  The......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
I don't usually write directly about electoral politics, but sometimes I bring an outsider's perspective to how the inside looks to some of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
American Christian Right Leaders in Rome
The remarkable and growing alliance between conservative Catholicism and protestant evangelicalism was on prominent display at a recent event at the Vatican. My colleague......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Religious Supremacism on the Rise Against Marriage Equality
This is a crosspost of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation.  -- FC Christian right undermines marriage equality with religious supremacism FREDERICK......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Author of Loathing Lincoln Explains Why Some on the Christian Right Loathe Lincoln
One under-reported result of the 2014 elections was the rise of Neo-Confederate politics in the U.S. This included the election of unabashed apologist for......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Catholic Theocracy Grows in Florida
Catholic Right pizza mogul Tom Monaghan and his Ave Maria School of Law are back in the news.  Journalist Eleanor Bader has a new......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Mississippi Madness: Group Wants To Designate An Official Religion
A group in Mississippi is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to change the state constitution in several ways.The proposal put forth by the......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the cities' mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the city's mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)

Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.