For the last two weeks, I’ve been reading The Creature from Jekyll Island, G. Edward Griffin’s book about the Federal Reserve System. I knew, before I read the book, that the Federal Reserve is the US’s central bank, that its origins and operations were shrouded in mystery, and that people rail against it because the US dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power in the century since the Federal Reserve Act was passed. And I considered that, if we were as strong and prosperous a country now as we were a century ago, having a currency that rots by 3% per year as the price of that strength and prosperity wouldn’t really be such a bad deal after all.
Some of my other reading suggested that the Federal Reserve, in its original plan, was actually a good idea: since previous busts and panics had their origin in banks getting caught short: a lender of last resort that the banks could turn to would be useful. Today, the Federal Reserve has taken on the task of pumping up asset bubbles to maintain the illusion of prosperity. So somewhere along the line, perhaps it lost its way.
No, that wasn’t it at all.
Griffin asserts and documents that the many of the turning points of American history were organized and engineered by what we now call ‘the banksters.’ They had a hand in the Civil War, which in its origins wasn’t really about slavery at all. (My mother used to tell me, as if reciting from her lessons years before, that the Civil War was primarily about economics, and secondarily about secession and slavery.) They led us into both World Wars and the Great Depression, And well before the events of 2008, they had scored multi-billion-dollar government bailouts of failed businesses.
And then I have to wonder:
- I’ve been led all these years to believe that there was an America past in which free enterprise reigned and a man could succeed or fail on his own wits. Was that ever really true, or was it all an illusion?
- I’ve railed against our current President for what I believe are wrongheaded decisions. And the Republicans rail against him, too. But I don’t see that the Republicans are actually doing anything to try and stop him, although they have the ability. And so I wonder: does it really matter who the President is?