Thursday, June 30, 2022

It's the root that's killing us


“If we look beneath the surface of our public affairs, we can discern one fundamental fact, namely: a great redistribution of power between society and the State. This is the fact that interests the student of civilization. He has only a secondary or derived interest in matters like price-fixing, wage-fixing, inflation, political banking, “agricultural adjustment,” and similar items of State policy that fill the pages of newspapers and the mouths of publicists and politicians. All these can be run up under one head. They have an immediate and temporary importance, and for this reason they monopolize public attention, but they all come to the same thing; which is, an increase of State power and a corresponding decrease of social power.

— Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy, The State


Those who write about current events typically expose some problem that is egregious and needs to be fixed.  And where do these problems come from?  Depending on what mental resources they bring to the problem, and the problem itself, they might lay the blame on the CDC, Russia, the Federal Reserve, gun-free government schools, the Democrats, Trump, Biden, Fauci, Gates, the Court, Big Tech, Big Pharma, etc..  

For instance, a recent article about the federal reserve and its effort to tame price inflation criticizes the Fed for tinkering with a problem that requires a Paul Volcker approach.  The  article is on-target as far as it goes, but makes no mention of the Fed’s character as a legal counterfeiter, as a creator of money out of nothing to benefit the well-connected, yet it is beyond doubt the author is well-aware of this fact.  

Instead of pushing for a Paul Volcker approach why not at least call for a Ron Paul solution?  Too radical?  Not practical?

One surmises that repeating the nature of central banking is unnecessary for the Misesian audience he addresses.  But is this his only audience?  Perhaps the majority of readers are well-versed in the Fed’s corrupt nature and history, but preaching to the choir will not win many new converts.  And certainly no choir has a slip-proof memory.   

When I ask people what they know about the federal reserve the answer is invariably: “What the devil are you talking about?”  They’ve never heard of it.   If I say it’s an agency in charge of the country’s money supply, a few of them will equate it with the Treasury but most will lose all interest in the subject.  If I add that it funds a significant share of the government’s wars, the responses I get, if any, are something like, “Well, someone has to pay for them.”

The idea that we could have peace and prosperity without the Fed never occurs to them.  

There are a few — very few — who recall their government schooling and reply, “Wait a minute — wasn’t the Fed created to put an end to the Panics of long ago?”  When I ask them if they think that was a good idea, they wander in no-man’s land.  “Well, the government had to do something, right?  It might not be perfect but the economy was at risk.  I guess we’re learning by experience.”

Banking and money doesn’t interest the general public, even if I tell them they’re getting shafted.  Even if I make a case that we would have had a far better world if the Fed had never been imposed on us.

And take note: It had to be imposed.  No central bank is ever a free market entity.

The brilliant David Stockman in his bestselling The Great Deformation justifiably lambastes the Fed for all kinds of sins but has a soft spot for its original charter.  In other words, he apparently believes it was once a good idea but has since become an instrument of exploitation and destruction.

Many limited-government libertarians reason the same way.  We once had a government we could live with, that respected our rights, but has since grown into a monster.  Their goal is to trim it down but keep the very part of it that allowed it to grow without restraint.

As with ordinary weeds, without getting rid of the root the problems will only grow back again.  

The root is the State with its citizen-approved monopoly of violence.  Eliminate that, and we have arrived not at anarchy but at free market government.

In our country we occasionally have had people in positions of power who were to a large degree honorable.  Grover Cleveland comes to mind.  But such is the nature of the State that, as Nock writes,“the machine they are running will run on rails which are laid only one way, which is from crime to crime.” 

This is what the public doesn’t understand and this is what they must learn.

George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government.  He eagerly welcomes speaking engagements and can be reached at


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