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A Dangerous Political Issue.
powerless when changes are great, and as soon as it is seen that either gold or silver coin is likely to command a premium in any country, it is withdrawn from circulation, and panic commonly results.
Besides this, the fixing or the altering of the ratio must become a dangerous political issue unless it be decreed that it shall be adjusted always upon the basis of market values. 1
From the beginning of civilization gold and silver have been used about equally as the money of the world.?
Joint-metallism would continue this beneficent parity, and would provide a sufficient metallic basis of money to check the illegitimate decline in prices of commodi
Numerous writers have recognized the fact that there would be some advantage in a flexible ratio. The following plans have been proposed : Frequent recoinings at market values. Coins of an amalgam of fluctuating proportions. Gold disks framed in silver disks of fluctuating thicknesses. An agreement among nations generally to join in the purchasing of silver, and in fixing the ratio from time to time, etc. All these plans present difficulties which my plan entirely avoids.
Tables on pages 49 and 50 of the Report of the Director of the Mint for 1893, give the estimated stocks of gold and silver money in the world amounting to $3,901,900,000 gold, and $3,931,100,000 silver.
1. Because we are the largest producers of silver.
2. Because we owe more money than any other people.
3. Because our principal exports are wheat, cotton, etc., which have to be sold in competition with India and other countries whose currency is silver, and where wages and the prices of commodities used by laborers remain substantially as they have been for many years.
Cotton and wheat are sold in England at gold prices for pounds sterling, and thus the world's price is determined.
For every pound sterling which a planter in India receives for cotton or wheat sent to England, he can now employ twice as many native laborers as he could a few years ago, for their wages remain the same in silver coin, viz. : one quarter of a silver rupee per day.
In view of this fact as to the reduced gold cost of the production of wheat and cotton in India, owing to the fall in the value of silver, or appreciation of gold, I am unable to comprehend how our great
Wells and Atkinson Answered.
est economist, my esteemed friend, the Hon. David A. Wells, can maintain what he wrote in his very valuable book on Recent Economic Changes, p. 232: “If the fall in the price of all desirable commodities has been an evil, as not a few seem to believe, it cannot be conclusively proved, in respect to even one article, that any such fall has been extensively due to any decline in the value of silver or any appreciation of gold.”
If Mr. Wells's views have been modified by the course of events since August, 1889, the date of the preface to that book, it would be of the greatest possible advantage to have a public expression from him now.
These facts regarding the fall in prices of wheat and cotton appear to furnish a complete answer to Mr. Atkinson's demand for the name of any one article in which the variation in price since 1873 may not be accounted for without any regard to the ratio of gold and silver.
If silver continues to decline, much less wheat and cotton will be cultivated in
Government ratio declared periodically, as being that integral number of standard silver coins which, in the market value of the silver they contain, most nearly equals a standard gold coin of like weight; and making a gold coin, plus such number of these standard silver coins as shall be equal thereto, according to the current Government ratio, legal tender as twice the amount of the gold coin, for all debts contracted after a fixed future date.'
In the United States the Treasury would receive these silver coins and gold coins, when presented together in quantities of equal value, according to the current Government ratio, and issue therefor Joint Legal-Tender Currency Certificates, payable half in gold and half in such quantity of these silver coins as may be equal thereto, according to the Government ratio current at the time of presentation.
Joint-metallism would continue the decimal system here, and permit a continued use of our present silver coins. These are now token money. When 1 See page 5.
the ratio becomes settled it may be best to recoin the 50-cent, 25-cent, and 10cent pieces, so that they may contain nearly full intrinsic value. No more silver dollars ought to be coined. After a time all our silver dollars could be converted into silver standard coins, and multiples thereof.
A silver coin as heavy as $5,000 in gold would be more suitable than silver dollars for deposit in the Treasury.
Under joint-metallism the minting charge might provide a fund to meet any possible Government loss from decline in silver.
In the United States, most of the new silver and gold coins would be deposited in the Treasury, for the people in this country prefer to use sound convertible paper money, instead of coin, for all sums of one dollar and over. Among us, gold coin is seldom seen in common use, and five sixths of our silver dollars remain in the Treasury, while the circulation of the remaining one sixth is confined mostly to colored laborers in a few States.