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|The Natural Law of Money; Brough, William|
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Thus far, it may be noted that all the improvement in metallic money coming through natural displacement, seems to culminate in the supremacy of gold; but while this inference is probably correct, it is certain that improvement of money generally will not cease so long as trade and commerce continue. He deceives himself who believes that such constant improvement as we see around us, in all the implements and appliances of every department of industry, could be possible if the one instrumentality upon which all such advancement depends, and without which it would stop, had remained stationary. We may rest assured that money has continually improved in efficiency, except in places and at times when the industrial organism of society was disordered by warfare, or when arbitrary rulers interfered with the
natural order of progression. This view is supported by the testimony of history.
Free-metallism is, therefore, what is needed. Our money must be free before it can yield to the nation its highest measure of productiveness. If the State of Colorado wants silver money, it is to the interest of the other States that she should have it. If the South could have the free silver she desires, her
industries would doubtless greatly profit thereby. It is through individual selection, individual enterprise and competition, that we, as a people, now excel in industrial appliances, and it is only by these means that we shall ever excel in money. Industrial implements vary, and individual opinions may differ as to their respective merits, but the final test of each implement is its adaptability for productiveness, and the necessity to secure the best is constantly felt by the industrial producer. The negro has signified his preference for silver dollars over paper or gold money, and we may be sure his industry will be stimulated by letting him have the money of his choice. Silver is the choice of a partially civilized race, which is shown also by the Berbers of Algeria, who, in exchanging at Algiers notes of the Bank of France, receive and carry to their homes in the interior the greatly depreciated silver in preference to the more portable gold. To these people bulk is a desideratum; therefore, silver is the money of their choice and satisfies their sense of security, which is always essential to the efficiency of money. Individual preferences, however mistaken, are not crimes to be punished nor vices to be prohibited by coercive legislation. They stimulate enterprise, and whatever errors of judgment they
may contain, time and experience will correct. With free scope and the incentive of profit, the monetary movement must be forward; it cannot be otherwise.
A silver monetary standard would place the nation under some disadvantages; by depriving the higher departments of industry of the more effective implement, the productive powers of the whole people would to some extent be disabled; but if the change from gold to silver were made, as it might be, without entailing injustice upon individuals, no discredit could attach to the nation. Capital would not then have occasion to seek, in other parts of the world, the protection it is entitled to here: it is not an objection to silver money that is frightening capital away, but the anticipation that loss of capital will result from the change of standard. While it is true that the kind of money used by a nation indicates, as its other industrial implements do, the stage of civilization it has reached, nobody would hesitate to trade with us because of our silver money, any more than they would if our plows were forked sticks. Silver is as definite and as comprehensible a money as gold; its cumbersomeness and instability would be our burden, and not that of those who traded with us. Estimated by the economic intelligence of our age, our movement would be retrogressive; but having shown a sensitive respect for the rights
of individuals, that general sense of security which is indispensable to industrial prosperity, instead of being weakened by the change, could not fail to be strengthened by the manifestation of a determined disposition to be honest in the making of it. Under such conditions we should doubtless, as a nation, prosper with a silver currency; nor would it be a backward step from a position of uncertainty as to which metal is to be the standard; but as compared to having a fixed gold standard, the adoption of a silver standard would be a backward step. This being the tendency of the Silver movement under its present leadership, the question naturally arises, why should a rich and resourceful nation like ours, at peace with the whole world and foremost in industrial appliances, voluntarily lower its monetary standard to the level of that of Russia and Mexico?