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2007-03-07

Pizza for pesos, part two

Pizza Patrón has announced their intention to continue accepting the Mexican Peso at their stores. Good for them! I'm sure they are making a lot of money off of this service. Good for them! Unless somebody was using force to affect the transaction (for example, by pointing a gun at someone, or passing a law requiring authorities to point a gun at someone), such voluntary transactions mean that people were served, and society, on balance, advances. In general, they will prosper in proportion to the value of the service they provide.

Money liberty is a freedom we don't often think about. The authors of the United States Constitution intended American money to be limited to gold and silver. It is impossible for the government to inflate the supply of gold and silver. Inflation is a means of stealing some value from the entire money supply and using it to create new (stolen, counterfeit) money. It is a violation of Leviticus 19:35-36. Inflation does not add value to the total money supply; it merely redistributes the value that already exists. (And unlike other government programs, it usually doesn't make any pretense of redistributing the value to the poor. This value tends to go to bankers and other credit-driven industries like real estate.) After millenia of human existence, the free market had selected gold and silver as money, the medium of human exchange. Governments used force to confiscate gold from their citizens and force their populations to use paper money instead, giving government powers over the money supply, such as inflation. (They call this power "flexibility.")

The sole reason government insists on paper money is in order to have this power over the money supply. If left to the free market, trade would probably resume again in some commodity like gold or silver. Platinum has presented itself as a modern choice that some people think could be a good medium of exchange. In older times, some societies were known to trade in butter, cartwheels, and even cigarettes. But over time, gold and silver have always tended to win out as being the most convenient for trading.

If you own your property, you have the right to do whatever you want with it, including trade it to another property owner for whatever he is willing to trade for it. But we have decided that modern societies need to have limits on freedoms like this. We tell people they may keep their property, but then we limit what they may do with it. This is a violation of God's command that we honor private property: "Thou shalt not steal." If I tell you how to use your property, I've stolen it and left you as a mere custodian. On top of this fundamental abuse of freedom that occurred in order to bring about our present money situation, the whole reason for this system's existence is so that the government can create new dollars at will: in other words, so that the government can steal from every single dollar holder at once, any time it wishes. Is this a power that Christians should vote for?

The Constitution granted Congress the power to make coins out of gold and silver, and to establish their value. In its first act pertaining to money, the Congress declared the United States dollar would be equal to the amount of silver in a one ounce silver coin that was circulating at the time. This coin had a lengthy history: in the middle ages, some of the best silver coins came from the German area of Joachimsthal. The coins came to be known as the Joachimsthaler, or later the Thaler. If it's not obvious, this is where the name "dollar" came from. Eventually there were lots of sources for Thaler-sized coins, and they were all called Thalers or Dollars. It doesn't matter where an ounce of silver comes from as long as its the same weight as every other ounce.

Long before our modern paper money, the most popular coin for trade in America was a Thaler coin called the Spanish Milled Peso, or the Spanish Dollar. America's founders couldn't care less what was stamped on their silver and gold coins, as long as the coins were of the right valuable substance, and of the right weight. Even though America eventually started minting its own coins, Spanish Pesos and American Dollars circulated side by side for over a century. Nobody thought this was strange. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson -- all of them almost certainly traded in Spanish Pesos at some point in their lives, here in America.

Government came up with the idea that it should have a monopoly on coin production within its territory. It started teaching its people the idea that they should use only their own national coins, as a matter of national pride. Almost all governments did this. Eventually governments passed laws to try to require people to use their own national currencies in most day to day transactions. This was just a step on the road to currency the government could inflate. (If everybody can switch to gold or silver coins from another country or a private mint, then they will do so the minute the government starts issuing inflated coins with less gold or silver in them. Competition, the free market, protects people's interests far better than any government.) Search your Constitution -- you'll find the power to mint coins granted to the federal government, you'll find the power to mint coins and the power to issue paper money denied to the States, you'll find an amendment that says the federal government doesn't have any powers that aren't granted to it by the Constitution (this is in an Amendment because the original writers of the Constitution thought it was obvious). If you compare with the previous Articles of Confederation, you'll find that the phrase used to grant Congress the power to mint coins originally contained permission to issue paper money -- this was intentionally taken out when the sentence was moved to the Constitution. What you won't find in the Constitution is the right for the federal government to monopolize money. You won't find any sentence granting them the right to require people to use American coins. In 1920 it took an Amendment to the Constitution to give the federal government the right to outlaw alcohol. Why did it not take an Amendment to give Congress the power to monopolize money, or issue paper bills?

If you'll check this link, you can see how much value has been stolen from American dollars. Originally, a dollar was one ounce of silver, or one twentieth of an ounce of gold. How much silver is a dollar worth now? How much gold?

Given that America's founders used coins like the Spanish silver Peso interchangeably with American Dollars, and intended us to continue doing so, I find the uproar over Pizza Patrón's private business decision to take Mexican paper Pesos to be somewhat out of place. A more appropriate uproar would be one against the criminals in government who violated the Constitution and required us to start using fake paper dollars.

2 comments:

ClanKeeper said...

You wrote: "If you own your property, you have the right to do whatever you want with it, including trade it to another property owner for whatever he is willing to trade for it." and "We tell people they may keep their property, but then we limit what they may do with it. This is a violation of God's command that we honor private property: "Thou shalt not steal.""

The government, as Walter Williams would put it, engages in "legal" theft when it comes to property (and income). We don't have "private property" in the strictest sense of the word in this country since the government can seize our property if we don't pay our taxes, regardless of whether we agree with how they are used! How I wish that my property was actually free!

voice said...

You got it! Walter Williams is the first person who made me realize that was the case. For a long time I didn't accept it, either. After all, the Bible tells us to pay our taxes. But then I realized it didn't say the taxers were right, or that Christians could do so. Dig through the archives here and you'll see I say this often. :)

If we want freedom, the first step is to start acknowledging the freedom of everyone else. The next step is to start persuading everybody. If it were just secular libertarianism we're promoting we would have no hope -- but these are the commandments of the Gospel, and God's word is guaranteed to fulfill its purpose. The way to see less of this legalized stealing is to make more disciples of Jesus Christ.

I read somewhere that all the land in the United States is supposed to be legally "alloidal" land, meaning it's owned by its owner and not subject to the control of a feudal overlord. But it sure doesn't look that way to me. I pay rent on my land to the government: city, state. School district (you can guess how I feel about that one, even though the schools are good here). County hospital district. And on, and on. [Note: that last one was socialized medicine.] Plus, if I want to hold a garage sale, I have to pay my city for permission! (I lived in this city as a boy, and this was not the case back then.) Clearly my land is owned by the government, not me.

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