INSTEAD OF A BOOK.
the other. By means of this borrowed capital he can quadruple his product, and is very willing to give a part of his increased product to the neighbor who has befriended him. Would he not be a mean sneak if he were not glad to do so? By the use of the borrowed capital he is not only enabled to pay for the advantage gained, but, by his greater power to produce, he can, in a short time, buy his own tools and no longer be forced to borrow.
Although our present system of business is vastly complicated, and we sometimes seem to borrow money merely, the actual transaction being kept out of sight, yet the case supposed is the real basis of all just payment of interest. I believe there will be a state of society in which money will not be necessary, but that state cannot be built up by commencing at the top. We must build from the foundation, understanding things as they are as well as knowing how they ought to be.
The question is asked—and it is a very important one, and, simple as it is at bottom, a complex one as it stands—What is money? It would simplify this matter very much if all would agree to call coin, or money having value as merchandise, money, and paper, or representative money, currency, or notes. It is plain that the representative money is that which must be and is principally used in this country and in all commercial countries. Coin money derives its real value in exchange, and as a measure for the exchangeable value of other products, from the fact that it costs labor to produce it; and, although government laws may foolishly try to make it pass for more than its cost value, they never succeed in doing so. No government ever has succeeded in overriding natural law, though they may and often do obstruct the operations of Nature's laws to the great detriment of Nature's children. The simplest form of representative money, or currency, is furnished by Josiah Warren's labor note, which was substantially as follows (I quote from memory):
For value received, I promise to pay bearer, on demand, one hour's labor, or ten pounds of corn.
Modern Times, July 4, 1852.
So long as it was believed by his neighbors that the maker of such notes always had the corn on hand with which to redeem them (since their redemption in labor would rarely be practicable or desirable), they would pass current in that locality; and, in fact, such "labor notes" did pass to a limited extent at Modern Times. Interesting as that experiment was, and showing clearly, as it does, the principle at the basis of all good currency, it could not be extended so as to satisfy the needs of a great commercial country, or, safely, of a large neighborhood.
But a currency, to be good, must possess precisely the qualifications and qualities of that labor note, with the addition of a guaranty, universally recognizable, that the notes actually do represent solid wealth with which they will be redeemed on demand. Now, there is one thing, and only one, that government can rightfully or usefully do in the way of interference with the currency, the ebb and flow of which is governed by natural laws altogether out of the reach of State or national governments; and that is to issue all the notes used for currency on such terms that it shall be universally known truly to represent actual, movable capital (not land, which is not property in the true sense, and which cannot be carried off by any one wishing a note redeemed), pledged for