ing limited and regulated in a measure by State laws and machinery to enforce contracts. Our Boston Procrustes thereupon plunged straight into trouble by denying the similitude, because forsooth the old banks were incorporated institutions not perfectly free to cheat their creditors, forgetting that, in so far as they differed from free banks, the difference in point of security, scope of credit, etc., was in our favor.
That is one way of putting it. Here is another. Free money advocates hold that security is one (only one) essential of good money, and that competition is sure to provide this essential, competition being simply natural selection or the survival of the fittest, and the fittest necessarily possessing the quality of security. But they have never held that it was impossible for monopoly to furnish a temporally secure money. It may or may not do so, according to the prescribed conditions of its existence. Pending the universal bankruptcy and revolution to which it inevitably will lead if allowed to live long enough, the national bank monopoly furnishes a money tolerably well secured. But the old State bank monopoly furnished a money far inferior in point of security, not because it was a freer system,—for it was not,—not because the conditions of its existence were less artificially and compulsorily prescribed,—for they were not,—but because the conditions thus prescribed were less in accordance with wise business principles and administration. The element of competition, or natural selection, upon which the free money advocates rely for the supply of a money that combines security with all other necessary qualities, was just as much lacking from the old State bank system as it is from the present national bank system. Therefore, to say of the State banks that, "in so far as they differed from free banks, the difference in point of security, scope of credit, etc., was in their favor" is to beg the question entirely; and accordingly, when Mr. Pinney, as sole proof of an assertion that free money would be unsafe money, offered the insecurity of the old State bank bills, I informed him that there was not the slightest pertinence in his illustration, whereby I plunged, not myself, but Mr. Pinney into trouble.
To get out of it he performs a double which eclipses all his previous evolutions. Finding that he must deal in some way with my statement that the monopoly of money inheres in the compulsory conditions of its issue, chief among which are the government bond basis in the national bank system and the specie basis in the old State bank system, he asks:
How then about your free banking? Are there not any "compulsory conditions?" Free bank notes can be issued only by those who have government bonds, or specie, or property of some sort, we suppose, sothere are your "compulsory conditions," enforced by the business law