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A Dangerous Political Issue. I35
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great, and as soon as it is seen that either gold or silver coin is likely to command a premium in any country, it is withdrawn from circulation, and panic commonly results.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." 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 z/legitimate decline in prices of commodities which must continue indefinitely under gold monometallism." The decline in prices caused by inventions and discoveries is legitimate, and silver has also been affected by inventions and discoveries. The decline in prices caused by reducing the total metallic basis of money through the demonetization of silver is illegitimate and is working disaster, and must so work. By making gold alone the metallic basis of money, the demand for gold is increased, and thus its market value is increased at the expense of all other commodities. Those in authority naturally prefer gold monometallism, because it increases The People Deceived 1.37
* 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, IOO,000 silver.
1 Sir William H. Houldesworth, in criticism of my book on joint-metallism, says: “It is ingenious, but the plan he suggests has one objection. If the supply of either of the precious metals diminished down to the demand in the arts, I do not see how equal quantities of gold and silver could any longer be sent to the mint as required. Again, I do not care for the ratio being determined by proclamation.”
Sir William, who was so able and conspicuous a member of the Royal Commission on Gold and Silver, and of the Brussels International Monetary Conference of 1892, of course appreciates the fact that when there is not enough gold for jointmetallism, a fortiori gold monometallism will be impossible.
the purchasing power of their fixed salaries; it also increases the purchasing power of the Government revenues without nominally increasing taxation. More iron-clads, forts, and public buildings, etc., can be built and more soldiers employed when the revenues are on a gold basis and commodities at large have declined. The Government also unfairly profits by the issuing of dishonest silver coin. The burden of public debt is also made to appear smaller than it really is. National debts, like all other debts, can be paid only by surplus profits. We have had many statements published showing great reductions in our national debt, when in reality it would require more of our available surplus products to pay the nominally reduced debt. A farmer who pays the same tax on his land when wheat is worth 50 cents as he did when it was worth $1.00, does not always comprehend that his taxation has been practically doubled. The decline in silver is most injurious to the United States:
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 Atkinsom Answered. 139
est economist, my esteemed friend, the Hon. David A. Wells, can maintain what he wrote in his very valuable book on A'ecent 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