Buffett's father - "Human Freedom Rests on Gold Redeemable Money" -
>>> Human Freedom Rests on Gold Redeemable Money
By HON. HOWARD BUFFETT
U. S. Congressman from Nebraska
Reprinted from The Commercial and
5/6/48 https://buygoldandsilversafely.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/human-freedom-rests-on-gold-redeemable-money.pdf (Congressman Buffett stresses relation between money and freedom and contends without a redeemable currency, individual's freedom to sustain himself or move his property is dependent on goodwill of politicians. Says paper money systems generally collapse and result in economic chaos. Points out gold standard would restrict government spending and give people greater power over public purse. Holds present is propitious time to restore gold standard.)
Is there a connection between Human Freedom and A
Gold Redeemable Money? At first glance it would seem
that money belongs to the world of economics and
human freedom to the political sphere.
But when you recall that one of the first moves by
Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler was to outlaw individual
ownership of gold
, you begin to sense that there may be
some connection between money, redeemable in gold,
and the rare prize known as human liberty.
Also, when you find that Lenin declared and
demonstrated that a sure way to overturn the existing
social order and bring about communism was by
printing press paper money
, then again you are
impressed with the possibility of a relationship between
a gold-backed money and human freedom
In that case then certainly you and I as Americans
should know the connection. We must find it even if
money is a difficult and tricky subject. I suppose that if
most people were asked for their views on money the
almost universal answer would be that they didn't have
enough of it.
In a free country the monetary unit rests upon a fixed
foundation of gold or gold and silver independent of the
ruling politicians. Our dollar was that kind of money
before 1933. Under that system paper currency is
redeemable for a certain weight of gold, at the free
option and choice of the holder of paper money.
Redemption Right Insures Stability
That redemption right gives money a large degree of
stability. The owner of such gold redeemable currency
has economic independence. He can move around either
within or without his country because his money
holdings have accepted value anywhere.
For example, I hold here what is called a $20 gold
piece. Before 1933, if you possessed paper money you
could exchange it at your option for gold coin. This gold
coin had a recognizable and definite value all over the
world. It does so today. In most countries of the world
this gold piece, if you have enough of them, will give
you much independence. But today the ownership of
such gold pieces as money in this country, Russia, and
all divers other places is outlawed.
The subject of a Hitler or a Stalin is a serf by the mere
fact that his money can be called in and depreciated at
the whim of his rulers. That actually happened in Russia
a few months ago, when the Russian people, holding
cash, had to turn it in -- 10 old rubles and receive back
one new ruble.
I hold here a small packet of this second kind of money
-- printing press paper money -- technically known as
fiat money because its value is arbitrarily fixed by rulers
or statute. The amount of this money in numerals is very
large. This little packet amounts to CNC $680,000. It
cost me $5 at regular exchange rates. I understand I got
clipped on the deal. I could have gotten $2½ million if I
had purchased in the black market. But you can readily
see that this Chinese money, which is a fine grade of
paper money, gives the individual who owns it no
independence, because it has no redemptive value.
Under such conditions the individual citizen is deprived
of freedom of movement. He is prevented from laying
away purchasing power for the future. He becomes
dependent upon the goodwill of the politicians for his
daily bread. Unless he lives on land that will sustain
him, freedom for him does not exist.
You have heard a lot of oratory on inflation from
politicians in both parties. Actually that oratory and the
inflation maneuvering around here are mostly sly efforts
designed to lay the blame on the other party's doorstep.
All our politicians regularly announce their intention to
stop inflation. I believe I can show that until they move
to restore your right to own gold that talk is hogwash. Paper Systems End in Collapse
But first let me clear away a bit of underbrush. I will not
take time to review the history of paper money
experiments. So far as I can discover, paper money
systems have always wound up with collapse and
Here somebody might like to interrupt and ask if we are
not now on the gold standard. That is true,
internationally, but not domestically. Even though there
is a lot of gold buried down at Fort Knox, that gold is
not subject to demand by American citizens. It could all
be shipped out of this country without the people having
any chance to prevent it. That is not probable in the near
future, for a small trickle of gold is still coming in. But
it can happen in the future. This gold is temporarily and
theoretically partial security for our paper currency. But
in reality it is not.
Also, currently, we are enjoying a large surplus in tax
revenues, but this happy condition is only a
phenomenon of postwar inflation and our global WPA.
It cannot be relied upon as an accurate gauge of our
financial condition. So we should disregard the current
flush treasury in considering this problem.
From 1930-1946 your government went into the red
every year and the debt steadily mounted. Various plans
have been proposed to reverse this spiral of debt.
One is that a fixed amount of tax revenue each year
would go for debt reduction. Another is that Congress
be prohibited by statute from appropriating more than
anticipated revenues in peacetime. Still another is that
10% of the taxes be set aside each year for debt
All of these proposals look good. But they are
unrealistic under our paper money system. They will not
stand against postwar spending pressures. The accuracy
of this conclusion has already been demonstrated.
The Budget and Paper Money
Under the streamlining Act passed by Congress in 1946,
the Senate and the House were required to fix a
maximum budget each year. In 1947 the Senate and the
House could not reach an agreement on this maximum
budget so that the law was ignored.
On March 4 this year the House and Senate agreed on a
budget of $37½ billion. Appropriations already passed
or on the docket will most certainly take expenditures
past the $40 billion mark. The statute providing for a
maximum budget has fallen by the wayside even in the
first two years it has been operating and in a period of
There is only one way that these spending pressures can
be halted, and that is to restore the final decision on
public spending to the producers of the nation. The
producers of wealth -- taxpayers -- must regain their
right to obtain gold in exchange for the fruits of their
labor. This restoration would give the people the final
say-so on governmental spending, and would enable
wealth producers to control the issuance of paper money
I do not ask you to accept this contention outright. But if
you look at the political facts of life, I think you will
agree that this action is the only genuine cure.
There is a parallel between business and politics which
quickly illustrates the weakness in political control of
Each of you is in business to make profits. If your firm
does not make profits, it goes out of business. If I were
to bring a product to you and say, this item is splendid
for your customers, but you would have to sell it
without profit, or even at a loss that would put you out
of business. -- well, I would get thrown out of your
office, perhaps politely, but certainly quickly. Your
business must have profits.
In politics votes have a similar vital importance to an
elected official. That situation is not ideal, but it exists,
probably because generally no one gives up power
Perhaps you are right now saying to yourself: "That's
just What I have always thought. The politicians are
thinking of votes when they ought to think about the
future of the country. What we need is a Congress with
some 'guts.' If we elected a Congress with intestinal
fortitude, it would stop the spending all right!"
I went to Washington with exactly that hope and belief.
But I have had to discard it as unrealistic. Why?
Because an economy Congressman under our printing press money system is in the position of a fireman running into a burning building with a hose that is not connected with the water plug. His courage may be
commendable, but he is not hooked up right at the other
end of the line. So it is now with a Congressman working for
economy. There is no sustained hookup with the taxpayers
to give him strength.
When the people's right to restrain public spending by
demanding gold coin was taken from them, the
automatic flow of strength from the grass-roots to
enforce economy in Washington was disconnected. I'll
come back to this later.
In January you heard the President's message to
Congress. or at least you heard about it. It made Harry
Hopkins, in memory, look like Old Scrooge himself.
Truman's State of the Union message was "pie-in-thesky" for everybody except business. These promises were to be expected under our paper currency system. Why? Because his continuance in office depends upon
pleasing a majority of the pressure groups. Before you judge him too harshly for that performance, let us speculate on his thinking. Certainly he can persuade himself that the Republicans would do the
same thing if they were In power. Already he has
characterized our talk of economy as "just
conversation." To date we have been proving him right.
Neither the President nor the Republican Congress is
under real compulsion to cut Federal spending. And so
neither one does so, and the people are largely helpless.
But it was not always this way.
Before 1933 the people themselves had an effective way
to demand economy. Before 1933, whenever the people
became disturbed over Federal spending, they could go
to the banks, redeem their paper currency in gold, and
wait for common sense to return to Washington.
Raids on Treasury
That happened on various occasions and conditions
sometimes became strained, but nothing occurred like
the ultimate consequences of paper money inflation.
Today Congress is constantly besieged by minority
groups seeking benefits from the public treasury. Often
these groups. control enough votes in many
Congressional districts to change the outcome of
elections. And so Congressmen find it difficult to
persuade themselves not to give in to pressure groups.
With no bad immediate consequence it becomes
expedient to accede to a spending demand. The
Treasury is seemingly inexhaustible. Besides the
unorganized taxpayers back home may not notice this
particular expenditure -- and so it goes.
Let's take a quick look at just the payroll pressure
elements. On June 30, 1932, there were 2,196,151
people receiving regular monthly checks from the
Federal Treasury. On June 30, 1947, this number had
risen to the fantastic total of 14,416,393 persons.
This 14½ million figure does not include about 2
million receiving either unemployment benefits of soil
conservation checks. However, It includes about 2
million GI's getting schooling or on-the-job-training.
Excluding them, the total is about l2½ million or 500%
more than in 1932. If each beneficiary accounted for
four votes (and only half exhibited this payroll
allegiance response) this group would account for 25
million votes, almost by itself enough votes to win any
Besides these direct payroll voters, there are a large
number of State, county and local employees whose
compensation in part comes from Federal subsidies and
Then there are many other kinds of pressure groups.
There are businesses that are being enriched by national
defense spending and foreign handouts. These firms,
because of the money they can spend on propaganda,
may be the most dangerous of all.
If the Marshall Plan meant $100 million worth of
profitable business for your firm, wouldn't you Invest a
few thousands or so to successfully propagandize for the
Marshall Plan? And if you were a foreign government,
getting billions, perhaps you could persuade your
prospective suppliers here to lend a hand in putting that
deal through Congress.
Taxpayer the Forgotten Man
Far away from Congress is the real forgotten man, the
taxpayer who foots the bill. He is in a different spot
from the tax-eater or the business that makes millions
from spending schemes. He cannot afford to spend his
time trying to oppose Federal expenditures. He has to
earn his own living and carry the burden of taxes as
But for most beneficiaries a Federal paycheck soon
becomes vital in his life. He usually will spend his full
energies if necessary to hang onto this income.
The taxpayer is completely outmatched in such an
unequal contest. Always heretofore he possessed an
equalizer. If government finances weren't run according
to his idea of soundness he had an individual right to
protect himself by obtaining gold.
With a restoration of the gold standard, Congress would
have to again resist handouts. That would work this
way. If Congress seemed receptive to reckless spending
schemes, depositors' demands over the country for gold
would soon become serious. That alarm in turn would
quickly be reflected in the halls of Congress. The
legislators would learn from the banks back home and
from the Treasury officials that confidence in the
Treasury was endangered.
Congress would be forced to confront spending
demands with firmness. The gold standard acted as a
silent watchdog to prevent unlimited public spending.
I have only briefly outlined the inability of Congress to
resist spending pressures during periods of prosperity.
What Congress would do when a depression comes is a
question I leave to your imagination.
I have not time to portray the end of the road of all
paper money experiments.
It is worse than just the high prices that you have heard
about. Monetary chaos was followed in Germany by a Hitler; in Russia by all-out Bolshevism; and in other nations by more or less tyranny. It can take a nation to communism without external influences. Suppose the
frugal savings of the humble people of America continue to deteriorate in the next 10 years as they have in the past 10 years? Some day the people will almost certainly flock to "a man on horseback" who says he will stop inflation by price-fixing, wage-fixing, and rationing. When currency loses its exchange value the processes of production and distribution are
For example, we still have rent-fixing and rental
housing remains a desperate situation.
For a long time shrewd people have been quietly
hoarding tangibles in one way or another. Eventually,
this individual movement into tangibles will become a
general stampede unless corrective action comes soon.
Is Time Propitious
Most opponents of free coinage of gold admit that that
restoration is essential, but claim the time is not
propitious. Some argue that there would be a scramble
for gold and our enormous gold reserves would soon be
Actually this argument simply points up the case. If
there is so little confidence in our currency that
restoration of gold coin would cause our gold stocks to
disappear, then we must act promptly.
The danger was recently highlighted by Mr. Allan
Sproul, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New
York, who said:
"Without our support (the Federal Reserve
System), under present conditions, almost
any sale of government bonds, undertaken
for whatever purpose, laudable or
otherwise, would be likely to find an almost
bottomless market on the first day support
Our finances will never be brought into order until
Congress is compelled to do so. Making our money
redeemable in gold will create this compulsion.
The paper money disease has been a pleasant habit thus
far and will not he dropped voluntarily any more than a
dope user will without a struggle give up narcotics. But
in each case the end of the road is not a desirable
I can find no evidence to support a hope that our fiat
paper money venture will fare better ultimately than
such experiments in other lands. Because of our economic strength the paper money disease here may
take many years to run its course.
But we can be approaching the critical stage. When that
day arrives, our political rulers will probably find that
foreign war and ruthless regimentation is the cunning
alternative to domestic strife. That was the way out for
the paper-money economy of Hitler and others.
In these remarks I have only touched the high points of
this problem. I hope that I have given you enough
information to challenge you to make a serious study of
I warn you that politicians of both parties will oppose
the restoration of gold, although they may outwardly
seemingly favor it. Als o those elements here and abroad
who are getting rich from the continued American
inflation will oppose a return to sound money. You must
be prepared to meet their opposition intelligently and
vigorously. They have had 15 years of unbroken
But, unless you are willing to surrender your children
and your country to galloping inflation, war and slavery,
then this cause demands your support. For if human
liberty is to survive in America, we must win the battle
to restore honest money.
There is no more important challenge facing us than this
issue -- the restoration of your freedom to secure gold in
exchange for the fruits of your labors.