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The First New Deal Ruined Energy Innovation

The First New Deal Ruined Energy Innovation

About the only disappointing aspect of Burton Folsom’s New Deal or Raw Deal is that it doesn’t go far enough in its critique of FDR’s rural electrification program.

The Roosevelt Institute claims, in all seriousness, that “while 90% of urban dwellers had electricity by the 1930s, only 10% of rural dwellers did and roughly 9 out of 10 farms had none,” as if electrons magically stopped flowing in the presence of barnyard animals and corn cribs.

But farmers used electricity before Roosevelt took office; they just produced or procured it themselves instead of taking it off a federally subsidized grid.

Strangely, pundits on the left continue to laud FDR’s Rural Electrification Administration even though it increased demand for electricity created largely by “dirty” sources, especially coal, while squelching demand for electricity generated by local, often green, means. 

To this day, South Dakota’s prairie remains dotted with the skeletons of farm windmills abandoned long ago thanks to the Rural Electrification Administration. 

This is not to say that all electricity from the grid was dirty, as some of it came from hydroelectric plants, like those along the Missouri and Niagara rivers, nor that all locally generated electricity came from green sources, as some of it came from fossil fuel–powered generators and flatulent mules. But the point here isn’t to count kilowatts; it is to point out what the New Deal cost us in terms of green-energy innovation.

Although, since the New Deal, farms in the United States decreased in relative terms and absolute numbers, they still number in the millions. And although farmers are notoriously “cash poor,” only a small number are “dirt poor.” 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Learning from America’s Forgotten Default

​President Franklin D. Roosevelt​ signs the Gold Bill (also known as the Dollar Devaluation Bill) ​Bettmann/Getty Images

Learning from America’s Forgotten Default

One of the most pervasive myths about the United States is that the federal government has never defaulted on its debts. There’s just one problem: it’s not true, and while few people remember the “gold clause cases” of the 1930s, that episode holds valuable lessons for leaders today.

LOS ANGELES – One of the most pervasive myths about the United States is that the federal government has never defaulted on its debts. Every time the debt ceiling is debated in Congress, politicians and journalists dust off a common trope: the US doesn’t stiff its creditors.

There’s just one problem: it’s not true. There was a time, decades ago, when the US behaved more like a “banana republic” than an advanced economy, restructuring debts unilaterally and retroactively. And, while few people remember this critical period in economic history, it holds valuable lessons for leaders today.

In April 1933, in an effort to help the US escape the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans to take the US off the gold standard and devalue the dollar. But this would not be as easy as FDR calculated. Most debt contracts at the time included a “gold clause,” which stated that the debtor must pay in “gold coin” or “gold equivalent.” These clauses were introduced during the Civil War as a way to protect investors against a possible inflationary surge.

For FDR, however, the gold clause was an obstacle to devaluation. If the currency were devalued without addressing the contractual issue, the dollar value of debts would automatically increase to offset the weaker exchange rate, resulting in massive bankruptcies and huge increases in public debt.

To solve this problem, Congress passed a joint resolution on June 5, 1933, annulling all gold clauses in past and future contracts.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gold is the spectre haunting our monetary system

Close-up of bars of pure gold bullion
A scramble for gold has begun as central banks bet against US dollar inflation  CREDIT:ALAMY

 

For a century, elites have worked to eliminate monetary gold, both physically and ideologically.

This began in 1914, with the UK’s entry into the First World War. The Bank of England wanted to suspend convertibility of bank notes into gold. Keynes counselled wisely that the bank should not do so. Gold was finite, but credit elastic.

By staying on gold, the UK could maintain its credit, and finance the war effort. This transpired. The House of Morgan organised massive credits for the UK, and none for Germany. This finance was crucial, and sustained the UK until the US abandoned neutrality and tipped the military balance against Germany.

Despite formal convertibility of sterling to gold, the Bank of England successfully discouraged actual conversion.

Gold sovereigns were withdrawn from circulation and turned into 400-ounce bars. This form of bullion limited gold ownership to the wealthy, and confined gold’s presence to vaults. A similar disappearance of gold as a circulating currency occurred in the US.

Gold graph
The price of gold has jumped in recent years CREDIT: LONDON METAL EXCHANGE

In 1933, US President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order making ownership of gold a crime. FDR relied on the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 as statutory authority for this edict. Since the US was not at war in 1933, the enemy was presumably the American people.

In 1971, US President Richard Nixon ended convertibility of US dollars into gold by trading partners of the US. Closing the gold window was said by Nixon to be temporary. Forty-five years later the window is still closed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Democratic Socialism’ Means the Loss of Liberty

“DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM” MEANS THE LOSS OF LIBERTY

Democratic Party hopeful, Bernie Sanders, recently outlined what it means for him to be a “democratic socialist.” The problem is that the same label might be applied to most of the other candidates running in both the Democratic and Republican parties running to be the nominee for presidency of the United States.

One November 19, 2015, Bernie Sanders delivered a speech in which he outlined what he means when he calls himself a “democratic socialist.” He assured his listeners that he did not advocate government ownership of the means of production.

He said that he supported “private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America instead of shipping and jobs overseas.” And that “innovation, entrepreneurship, and success should be rewarded. But greed for the sake of greed is not something that public policy should support.”

He insisted that he “merely” wanted the wealthy billionaires, the “one-percenters,” to pay their “fair share,” with the belief that if they were taxed sufficiently high then it would be able to finance all the other good things that he would like to see every American have.

FDR and His Economic “Bill of Rights”

So besides a clear desire for a form of regulatory socialism that would see to it that private businesses did not “ship” jobs and profits overseas, and a fiscal socialism that would use the tax code to redistribute wealth from that supposed “one-percent,” what does Bernie Sanders mean by “democratic socialism”?

His playbook, it turns out, is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s and FDR’s 1944 call for an “economic Bill of Rights.” In the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt pushed through Social Security legislation, introduced the first federal minimum wage law and tax-funded unemployment insurance, and implemented federal job programs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will Uncle Sam Confiscate Gold Again?

Will Uncle Sam Confiscate Gold Again?

Investors suffered financial losses in recent weeks as stocks globally came under pressure in August and had their worst month in the last three years.

In one of the most volatile trading periods since the global financial crisis, August saw a massive $5.7 trillion erased from the value of stocks worldwide. No major stock market was left unscathed and the risk of financial and economic contagion became evident again. 

There are growing concerns internationally that in the event of another Wall Street or global stock market crash and a new systemic crisis – a Eurozone debt crisis or another  Lehman Brothers collapse – there could be enforced bank closures or extended bank holidays in the EU and U.S. as seen in Greece recently.

The New York Times

In this scenario, deposit boxes and vaults in U.S. banks and financial institutions could be sealed and gold confiscated again.

There is a legal precedent for this. April 5th, 1933 – at the height of the Great Depression – was the day when U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt instructed all American citizens to hand over all their gold coins and bars to the Federal Government.

Every coin, bar and certificate had to be handed in to Roosevelt’s government or else one would face a very large fine of $10,000 or 10 years in jail.  That is whopping fine of $180,000 fine in today’s money.

 

Gold was money at the time as dollars were backed by gold so in effect Roosevelt was confiscating the safest and most valuable form of money that people owned for the benefit of the state. Under the Gold Confiscation Act of 1933 Roosevelt ordered all gold be handed to the authorities. At the time, gold was valued at $20 per ounce. Once the gold was confiscated from the citizens and in the government coffers they revalued gold and devalued the dollar to $35 per ounce.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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