Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/608

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way. If debts are to be scaled, let it be done openly, and the dividends, whatever they may be, paid in money at par.

A proposition to restore the old dollar, and make it a legal tender for everything except the interest and principal of the public debt and for customs duties, is said to find considerable favor. It is hard to understand how, after our prolonged experience of the derangement caused by having two unequal kinds of currency, such a scheme should be advocated. With one currency fit for paying bonds, customs duties, and foreign payments, and another not so fit, and therefore, of course, at a discount, we have a condition of affairs that is profitable to "money-sharks" and brokers alone. Every dollar which is paid as brokerage, growing out of the use of two kinds of currency, is a tax levied upon the people. If the sums which have been annually paid by consumers in the way of brokers' commissions since 1862, as a result of the depreciation of our currency, could be stated, and it could be shown by whom this tax has ultimately been paid, it would raise a party in favor of a single standard that would sweep everything before it. The tax has been levied indirectly, and paid unknowingly, but this has not lessened the burden of it—economic laws are none the less inexorable when their workings are obscure. And now, when we have almost emerged from under this load, it is proposed to put us back under it, not temporarily, but permanently, without even a distant hope of release.

There is one other proposition in regard to the reissue of silver: it is, to coin a silver dollar which shall contain enough metal to make it the equal of the present gold dollar. To this there is no moral objection, but there are grave economic ones. The rapid and violent fluctuations of the silver-market during the last two years show that forces are at work which are unusual in their nature and not yet understood, and the appeal can well be made to all prudent men whether it would not be better to wait a little before reintroducing into our currency so unstable an element. When the disturbing forces have expended themselves, and the silver-market has settled down to a normal condition, so that we may know what the price of silver really is in relation to other commodities, it will then be time enough to try to establish some fixed ratio between it and gold, and admit it as a legal tender.

But obvious as the lessons of history are, and pitilessly as the fallacies of those who think to make 90 equal 100 have been criticised, both by the pens of economists and the workings of natural laws, there is too much ground to fear that no reliance can be placed on the clearness or rectitude of popular convictions, and that we shall be called upon to vindicate once more the principles of monetary economy in the most painful and expensive way. There does not seem to be among our leaders either knowledge or virtue enough to protect us. A minority of the press and the business-men of the