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


How The Election of Trump Made My Life Easier
I might be one of a select few who didn't vote for Donald but would have to say Trump's election made my life easier...I......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
The Bakke Plot To "Infiltrate" Secular Institutions
Back in 2012-2014 I did a lot of writing and research on The Gathering, the yearly meeting of elite evangelical right philanthropists who collectively......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
The Term "Alt-Right" is All Right
There is a misguided effort underway to not use the term "alt-right."  The effort, currently led by the Center for American Progress, claims that......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Getting the Low Down on Dominionism
A refresher on dominionism will probably come in handy over the next little while. -- FC I am pleased to report that the task......
By Frederick Clarkson (10 comments)
The New Kochs: Anthology of DeVos Support, Funding of School Privatization and Religious Right
This post from 2-14 will be a helpful resource in the days ahead. -- FC Mother Jones' January/February issue includes an article titled "Meet......
By Rachel Tabachnick (1 comment)
Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech
This post about the long term strategy for privatizing the public schools takes on fresh importance in light of the nomination of Betsy DeVos......
By Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (18 comments)
Did God Engineer Trump's Win?
Political analysts have postulated a number of theories to explain the victory of Donald J. Trump in the presidential election: Hillary Clinton failed to......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
Some thoughts for a Sunday post-election reflection:
Emancipation, Reconstruction, Redemption, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow The struggles of the Civil Rights Movement took us two steps forward Now the "Second......
By Chip Berlet (0 comments)
On The Ridiculous Charge Of Clinton Anti-Catholicism
Julian Assange has been busy lately trying to sabotage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's run for the Presidency. As part of his vendetta, he has......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
From Russia Without Love
It was less than two years ago but it now seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote about how Russia appeared to be......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Northwest Arkansas, A Hotbed for Anti-Semitism
Three organizations in Northwest Arkansas are deeply interwoven into the most rabid Anti-Semitic teachings in the nation.  Gerald Smith, buried at the base of......
By wilkyjr (5 comments)
Joseph Cella is Back - Taking the Opposite Tack from Pope Francis
Joseph J. Cella has had a change of heart since he joined with those conservative Catholic activists who signed a declaration during the Republican......
By Frank Cocozzelli (7 comments)
Radcliffe Sucker Punched by Right-Wing Propagandists
The prestigious Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard College will host a panel on Monday, Oct 17, titled "Righting the Record: Conservatism and......
By Chip Berlet (2 comments)
Celebrating Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week is the venerable annual celebration of the right to read and the highlighting of efforts by cultural vigilantes of various sorts......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)

"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (4 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (0 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (4 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (0 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (13 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (4 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (1 comment)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (11 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (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.