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The old fashioned way

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 16 years ago, in 2008, on the World Wide Web.

Here’s a weird passage from Lew Rockwell’s article in the next-to-last Mises Institute newsletter. Not because the basic point being argued is false, but because of how the argument leaves off at the end:

Now, Ron Paul stands in this tradition of thinkers in every way. Even on the campaign stump, he speaks about the evil of fiat money and Fed management of the nation’s money stock. In a true sense, he says, we’ve put a cartelized gang of central planners in charge of the good that constitutes half of every economic exchange, and we are paying the price in terms of declining purchasing power, exchange-rate chaos, rampant debt, and growing crises in sector after sector.

Is there a way out? Most certainly! It goes by the name of gold. Make the dollar as good as gold and you eliminate the inflation problem and the business cycles that go along with it. Here is the great secret of the gold standard. The problem is not that it is unviable from the perspective of economics; the problem is that there are many people allied against it: the big banks, the creditor class, and government. You see, gold would provide a hard-core anchor for liberty. Under the right form of the gold standard, government could no longer spend with impunity or run up debt without limit. The resources it spent would have to be raised the old fashioned way.

By stealing it?

3 replies to The old fashioned way Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. JOR

    In fairness to Lew, I think he’d say that theft-by-taxation is better than theft-by-inflation because with taxation, at least it’s easier for people to know who the enemy is.

  2. Discussed at nothirdsolution.com

    …no third solution » Blog Archive » Catching Up Around the ‘Sphere:

    […] have to agree with Rad Geek’s assessment of this Lew Rockwell article: it’s certainly curious that Lew ends the argument in the manner […]

  3. Rad Geek


    Well, sure. As I said, I don’t think that the point being argued for is false. I just think the argument is curiously incomplete, when I happen to know that the person writing it is a Rothbardian anarchist who believes that any form of taxation is morally equivalent to armed robbery.

    You could make a similar argument to the effect that the old fashioned way of collecting income tax — i.e. the pre-World War II method of taking it, all at once, in one big check from the taxpayer — is, all things being equal, not as bad as government withholding of income tax, or the various proposed schemes for large national sales taxes, or other taxation schemes that tend to make the tax burden invisible by shifting the burden of record-keeping, collecting and filing onto a limited class of shopkeeps and employers. And a simple capitation tax would make the sore thumb stick out even more than an income tax, while also abolishing a particularly nasty branch of government surveillance and policing. But I don’t think that Lew would call any of that raising money the old fashioned way, and just leave it at that.

    But I suspect that the reason for this particular hiccup in the dialectic has little to do with libertarian principle, and something more to do with the fact that the article was written in part as agitprop for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.

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