In the 19th century there were ongoing debates about the degree to which government should be involved with money. It was not until the 1930s, more than 150 years after the nation was founded, that government asserted a full monopoly on money by illegalizing the ownership of gold.
By February 1912, about 98 years ago, Senator Bob La Follette, a small business-oriented Progressive and presidential candidate that year, made a speech in which he noted that Wall Street had come to so dominate the media that even recently founded magazines were no longer independent. The next day the New York Times ran an article stating that La Follette had suffered a nervous breakdown, effectively ending his candidacy for president. He continued on as a Senator until the 1920s.
Since then the media has avoided discussion of Wall Street and the Fed. Some, like Glenn Beck, claim ignorance. Others simply kowtow to special interests across the board. Still other media outlets, the majority, do not know what news is, so cannot be expected to discuss a subject like the Fed. Still others are consciously linked to the interests of Wall Street. In any case, Beck is to be commended for being the first to speak on this issue. But is that really a good thing?
Glenda McGee just wrote me this e-mail:
“Glenn Beck and Sarah Palan had me and a few million others THRILLED for many months. The minute the TEA PARTY showed promise in Arizona and Texas they led the movement over the cliff.”
Beck needs to do a better job if he is to remain convincing as a voice for advocates of small government. To do so, he could try a few things:
1. Read a few books on money and banking, including Murray Rothbard’s What Has Government Done to Our Money and Hans Sennholz’s Money and Freedom. He might also read some Hayek and learn about the concept of free market money, an institution that existed here in the US for most of its history.
2. He could be playing an educational role. In the videos I’ve seen of him he claims ignorance. If he wants to be a leader, he should take the time to learn the issues. It’s fine to complain about the Fed’s ownership structure, but that doesn’t lead to any policy prescription.
3. He needs to learn basic history. Money has been a traditionally central argument in American politics until the past 80 years. The bad guys won and have been controlling the debate ever since.
4. Thus Beck could teach his viewers about: (a) the basic policy options, including competing, free market monetary systems and metallic-backed currencies and (b) the historical process by which centralized monetary control was rejected, re-adopted because it facilitates war (specifically the War of 1812), rejected again by Andrew Jackson, reinstated again in small part by the Republicans in order to finance the Civil War, rejected again during the Gilded Age , rejected by the public in the election of 1896, and then adopted by subterfuge in 1913 and re-enforced through fear tactics in 1932.
Shedding crocodile tears about the Fed’s ownership structure is a good way to seem like you oppose something that your boss at Fox really favors.
Let’s hope for a better performance from the undoubtedly theatrical but so far unconvincing Mr. Beck.