A Greenbacker in a Corner.

A Greenbacker in a Corner.

[Liberty, August 9, 1884.]

To the Editor of Liberty:(93 ¶ 1)

In Liberty of June 28 you refer to a writer in the Essex Statesman, of whom you say that he gets down to bottom truth on the tariff question by averring that Free Money and Free Trade are corollaries of each other.(93 ¶ 2)

Every Greenbacker (I am one) of brains perceived this simple (I might say axiomatic) doctrine the moment he thought at all on it.(93 ¶ 3)

Monopoly of money is through interest; monopoly of trade is through taxing (tariffs): so, if you would overthrow all monopoly, you have only to secure currency unloaded with interest, and their doom is recorded.(93 ¶ 4)

There is no more rational reformer in existence than the Greenbacker who is a Greenbacker in the only rational sense of the word,—that is, a believer in a non-interest-bearing currency.(93 ¶ 5)

It is amusing, this prating of secured money! Liberty ought to see that a currency based on any security other than its inherent function and non-discountableness would rob those who used it.(93 ¶ 6)

If the whole community co-operate in its issue and use, and fix no limit to its quantity or use, such currency would be perfect as to all qualities, and rob none; and such money is full legal tender under any name you choose to label it.(93 ¶ 7)

As I have taught this doctrine for more than ten years, I hope you will give a corner to this brief brick in Liberty.(93 ¶ 8)

E. H. Benton.

Wells Mills (Geere), Neb., July, 1884.

I have given Mr. Benton his corner, and I think he will have difficulty in getting out of it. Let me suppose a case for him. A is a farmer, and owns a farm worth five thousand dollars. B keeps a bank of issue, and is known far and wide as a cautious and honest business man. C, D, E, etc., down to Z are each engaged in some one of the various pursuits of civilized life. A needs ready money. He mortgages his farm to B, and receives in return B’s notes, in various denominations, to the amount of five thousand dollars, for which B charges A this transaction’s just proportion of the expenses of running the bank, which would be a little less than one-half of one per cent. With these notes A buys various products which he needs of C, D, E, etc., down to Z, who in turn with the same notes buy products of each other, and in course of time come back to A with them to buy his farm produce. A, thus regaining possession of B’s notes, returns them to B, who then cancels his mortgage on A’s farm. All these parties, from A to Z, have been using for the performance of innumerable transactions B’s notes based on A’s farm,—that is, a currency based on some security other than its inherent function and non-discountableness. They were able to perform them only because they all knew that the notes were thus secured. A knew it because he gave the mortgage; B knew it because he took the mortgage; C D, E, etc., down to Z knew it because they knew that B never issued notes unless they were secured in this or some similar way. Now, Liberty is ready to see, as Mr. Benton says it ought to see, that any or all of these parties have been robbed by the use of this money when Mr. Benton shall demonstrate it by valid fact and argument. Until then he must stay in his corner.(93 ¶ 9)

A word as to the phrase legal tender. That only is legal tender which the government prescribes as valid for the discharge of debt. Any currency not so prescribed is not legal tender, no matter how universal its use or how unlimited its issue, and to label it so is a confusion of terms.(93 ¶ 10)

Another word as to the term Greenbacker. He is a Greenbacker who subscribes to the platform of the Greenback party. The cardinal principle of that platform is that the government shall monopolize the manufacture of money, and that any one who, in rebellion against that sacred prerogative, may presume to issue currency on his own account shall therefor be taxed, or fined, or imprisoned, or hanged, or drawn and quartered, or submitted to any other punishment or torture which the government, in pursuit and exercise of its good pleasure, may see fit to impose upon him. Unless Mr. Benton believes in that, he is not a Greenbacker, and I am sure I am not, although, with Mr. Benton, I believe in a non-interest-bearing currency.(93 ¶ 11)