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never consider his plan. They say, with one of the British delegates to the Monetary Conference, that the whole silver movement is simply a preposterous attempt to keep prices up when science, art, invention, discovery are knocking them down ; that the fall in silver has had no more to do with the decline in prices than the fall in wheat, and that nobody has complained or is complaining of any actual scarcity in the supply of gold. It has not shown itself anywhere. Many dozens of gentlemen in various parts of the world keep telling us that it is going to show itself by and by, and that they are lying awake at night thinking anxiously about it. But there is no sign of it. The supply of gold is increasing rapidly in answer to the increased demand for it,” and we believe it may be said with safety, that nobody in any country has ever yet maintained that he was unable to get gold when he had something to exchange for it or good security to borrow it on. In fact, nothing is ever * See Appendix, p. 104.
The Boston Arethren. 3I
heard of the scarcity of gold in business circles. All we know about it we get from bimetallic pamphlets and speeches. The great demand for some other and cheaper kind of currency comes from gentlemen with debts to pay, but if we begin tinkering the currency in order to accommodate these gentlemen, the tinkering will last for ever. The “debtor class” is the oldest class in history, and the hardest to satisfy, and the least interesting. The class which most demands the care of the legislature is the creditor class—that is, the class which has wages to receive, and savings in the bank, and Government bonds in its boxes.
Apropos of this it may be said to the Boston brethren who are sounding the trumpet of alarm over silver, that it is absurd of them to stay in the bimetallic camp. Their central proposition, that Governments by laying their heads together can keep two commodities at equal value, in spite of difference in quantity, in cost of production, and in market price, applies, though they do not seem to see it, to other commodities than gold and silver. It would apply just as well to copper and gold or copper and leather as silver and gold, and is ample support for the greenback theory. There is no reason in the world, on this theory, why the Government should not discard metallic money altogether, and agree that certain stamped paper should in their dominions have a certain value in exchange. In old times, when a Government adulterated its coinage—that is, ordered it to pass at a fictitious value —it acknowledged it was cheating, and locked up anybody who said anything about it. The curious feature of the bimetallic and silver craze is that its victims want the civilized Governments to do this cheating in unison, by common consent, and in the light of day. The prospect opened to the modern world by this confession of ordinarily sensible and educated men that the Government has this power over currency, it is no exaggeration to call appalling. It
is ammunition of the most deadly kind for the socialist, communist, populist, and anarchist, and has the promise and potency of such monetary confusion as has
never been seen in any age. 3