What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray N. Rothbard

What Has Government Done to Our Money?
I don’t know about you, but I think I slept through Economics. Actually, I’m not sure I ever had such a class in high school and never got it in college. So, with all of this guff about money in the news, I wanted to know some more. A friend and I were discussing the value of the gold standard and whether it was even possible to return to a true gold standard and consequently have a hard currency. He pointed me this book by the late Rothbard.

Rothbard is called a Libertarian because he believes that the free market works and that government should stay out of our lives. With that definition, I guess one could define me similarly (though true Libertarians and I disagree on quite a bit). Unfortunately, the label of Libertarian prevents people from bothering with Rothbard’s work. That’s a shame, because unlike Keynesian philosophy (as exemplified by President Obama and the Treasury Secretary) teaches that controlled inflation is good and that the government can buy its way out of economic downturns. That’s a very illogical idea and Rothbard demonstrates it exceedingly well.

Some people are going to stop reading this review now. Please don’t. Hang in a little longer.

As I said, money/economics is not my strong point. I get easily confused when they throw the terms around. Still, with all of this stuff about bailouts for fiscally foolish decisions and such, I wanted, rather *needed* to know more. So, I decided to listen to this book.

Rothbard was a professor and I wish that I had been a student of his. He explains in simple terms so that even I could understand the foundation of the free market system. He leads you through the Bretton Woods agreement, to the final dissolution of the gold standard. When you are finished with this book, you may still agree with the bailouts, but you will have a new perspective on them.

Spend the time and work through this. The recording is high quality and free. There is a PDF and so forth. Spend some time and tell me what you think.

Personally, I oppose the bailouts because its an artificial construct based on theft. The theft: inflation. Rothbard explains this so clearly, but let me attempt to explain it. There are three ways for a government to acquire money: steal it by force, tax it, and inflate it. You understand the first two. Suppose that there was $100 in the entire economy and you had $10 (wow! You’re rich!). Then government printed an additional $10. Now there is $110 in the economy and every dollar has been devalued by 10%. Your $10 is now worth $9.

That’s inflation and that’s theft.

Read this and let me know what you think. If nothing else, listen through the history of currency and the free market (the easier first half). That will be worth your time.

Dark Matter by Philip Kerr

Dark Matter

When I travel, I usually stop by the library and pick up a few audio books to “read.” I need something to help me stay awake when I’m on the road for 10-15 hours straight. When I get to the library, I always have the same problem: which book is worth listening to? I usually pick authors I know; after a while, that doesn’t work since the books may be checked out or the library doesn’t have them. Ergo, I pick from books that look clean and interesting. If I have heard of a book, that helps immensely otherwise I make a judgment call. Sometimes, I choose wisely while at other times, I choose poorly. This was not one of the former.

This story started out well, with a great plot idea: Isaac Newton and Ellis, his rough and tumble side-kick / bodyguard seek out the source of counterfeit coins. Think Sherlock Holmes and Watson. They aren’t a complete copy as they have many differences. Newton is a better man then Holmes, but Watson is a much better man then his Ellis. The story is intriguing and well written and Newton easily applies the latest scientific knowledge of his day to the case.

The problem revealed itself from an unlikely source. I had been telling someone about the book and they checked up on a few reviews. This is when I wish that I had had internet at the library while browsing the books. Apparently, there was an objectionable scene in the book. I figured that I would just skip the scene and keep moving as it would take to long to get a new book on my iPod for the trip. Besides, with so few objectionable elements so far, how bad could it be? Heh…. Famous last words. Really, I thought they kept this kind of material in a different section of the library. I stopped the book.

There are two minor objections left (the prior being the *big* one). One would be the mild profanity. The other was the portrayal of Netwon as a heretic. Literally, Kerr has Newton denying the deity of Christ:Arianism. Newton’s assistant, Ellis, (from whose perspective the story is told), goes further to reject his belief in any God at all as a result of Newton’s science. I find this troubling as it was completely unnecessary to the plot. The point of Newton’s heresy was building as a tool for his enemies to take him down with. The assistant’s heresy? Completely out of line with the plot and felt preachy.

Now I was of the understanding that Newton was a genuine Christian. Does anyone know anything to the contrary? Or is this merely an attempt to strip Christianity of one of its greatest scientists as he seriously undermines the teaching and philosophy of modern scientists?