Thu, 8 Nov 2012, 1:05am PST
I think old Ben contradicts himself by first claiming the virtues of inflating the currency, and later pointing out that all real value is derived from labor, and that as the quantity of silver increased, its value in purchasing labor decreased.
Thu, 8 Nov 2012, 4:38pm PST
I love Ben Franklin, and the wonderful phrasing of the 18th century. For example, "contending warmly" sounds much more pleasant than "arguing heatedly." Though, human nature being ever constant, the two phrases probably describe the same scene.
Elwood P Dowd
Thu, 8 Nov 2012, 9:02pm PST
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I think part of the reason Franklin adopted the position he did is that when he first arrived in Philadelphia there was such a shortage of currency that it was strangling legitimate exchanges and trades. People were being forced to resort to barter in some cases, simply because there was no currency to be found This must have raised transaction costs, if nothing else.
But the rest of his reasoning I'm not following. He seems to presume a stable or perhaps slowly increasing value to land, when I think you can find cases in Franklin's own life where the value of land effectively fell to zero in certain places. As with the stereotype of the farmer emptying his house, closing the front door and hopping in his wagon going westward. Granted Franklin missed the craze for migration to Texas, I think in the 1820s, when people simply hammered a sign "G.T.T." for "Gone to Texas" on their door and just up and left. And these were working farms in places like Tennessee, on arable land, that produced a living if not exactly riches. But were still not deemed even worth attempting to sell. Can't see a land backed currency working under those circumstances.
'Course I can't see how today's Funny Money, excuse me, Quantitative Easing Parts I, II, III, and IV, with doubtless more sequels on the horizon, works either. (Must be quite a box office smash? Not having seen any of them at my local megaplex, I can only hope this is the one movie series out there where who I take to be the main actors all keep their clothes ON. The alternative is too frightening to contemplate.)
Also, I must admit I had a chuckle when I got to the bottom of the link and saw that Franklin had written this under a pen name, "B.B." Whose initials might THOSE be?
Elwood P Dowd
Thu, 8 Nov 2012, 9:48pm PST
Oh, duh. As interesting a read as I found that piece I'm not connecting the dots between it and Glass-Steagall. Was Franklin advocating that this currency be issued by private citizens or private banks, something like that? I'm afraid with his slightly archaic language and sentences of 600 words plus, I didn't suss that part out. But I did kind of presume they'd come out of government at some level, given the bit in the opening paragraph about him being given the (apparently) plum job of printing Pennsylvania's currency.
Thu, 8 Nov 2012, 11:59pm PST
all real value is derived from labor
Value is always derived from the talents and efforts of man building things, not the atoms from which things are built. Atoms are cheap. There are 10^78 of them in the observable universe. Talent and innovation are not cheap. Good ideas with excellent implementation are far more rare than gold.