Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/295

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



viduals and associations to do just what its passage would empower the government to do, it would not only have been significant, but, adopted by congress, it would have been the most tremendously and beneficially effective legislative measure ever recorded on a statute book. But, as it is, it is made powerless for good by the virus of political corruption that lurks within it. The bill, if passed, would be entrusted for execution either to the existing financial cabal or to some other that would become just as bad. All the beneficent results that, as an economic measure, it is calculated to achieve would be nearly counteracted, perhaps far more than counteracted, by the cumulative evils inherent in State administration. It deprives itself, in advance, of the vitalizing power of free competition. If the experiment should be tried, the net result would probably be evil. It would fail, disastrously fail, and the failure and disaster would be falsely and stupidly attributed to its real virtue, its economic character. For perhaps another century free banking would have to bear the odium of the evils generated by a form of governmental banking more or less similar to it economically. Some bad name would be affixed to the Stanford notes, and this would replace the assignat, the "wild cat," and the "rag baby," as a more effective scarecrow. It would unendurably prolong the bray of those financial asses of whom the most recent typical example is furnished in the person of General M. M. Trumbull, of Chicago.[1]

While hoping, then, that it may never pass, let us nevertheless make the most of its introduction by using it as a text in our educational work. This may be done in one way by showing its economic similarity to Anarchistic finance and by disputing the astounding claim of originality put forward by Stanford. In his Senate speech of May 23, he said: "There is no analogy between this scheme for a government of 65,000,000 people, with its boundless resources, issuing its money, secured directly by at least $2 for $1, on the best pos-

  1. At the time when this was written General Trumbull had just been guilty, and not for the first time, of stupidly confusing mutual money with fiat money, and as his ignorance of the difference between them was utterly without excuse and yet was given voice in that tone of superiority which ignorance is wont to assume, it seemed proper to administer this rebuke, which, though conceded to be just by some of General Trumbull's best friends, was considered by others unduly severe. The writer is not behind these last in his admiration of General Trumbull as a man and a thinker. As a publicist he is usually and unusually witty and wise; only when discussing finance does he utter absurdities that justify the epithet above applied.