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Money and Freedom
    Money can't buy you happiness, or so we are told, but it may help you achieve the freedom and independence through which you may pursue and achieve happiness. This is one of the graces of the free enterprise system, that everything is for sale to a certain extent. This is also one of it's great evils, though commerce is only a reflection of the people who engage in it. As a universal token of value, money may buy labor, or goods which are themselves the product of labor. In a very real way, money is a purchaser, and an indicator of freedom. The poor have little of what we consider to be freedom, even in this country. This is not to say that they are denied freedom, but merely that they lack the funds with which to adequately pursue it. For those with money, education, travel, luxury, and security are all readily available; for those without, these things are attained with great difficulty, if at all. In truth, comfort and a measure of security are not difficult to buy in this country, though true freedom is getting to be beyond the financial means of an increasing number of us. This is not an indictment of money and capitalism any more than the prospect of starvation is an indictment of food.
    There is another, indirect, but very powerful way in which money produces freedom, this is by shaping the marketplace. The marketplace is, in many ways, the ultimate democracy. People buy what they approve of, what they decide they need, what they want, and what they think they want. They spend their money on individual items, at their discretion, in a daily, constant process, unlike the two to four, to six year intervals at which elected officials are chosen. There is also the matter of sincerity, and sacrifice. We work for our money, many of us in jobs which we hate. Most people (from what I have seen) put much more thought into what they buy than into how they vote. The marketplace is where much of what is good and bad is decided. So through the marketplace we show with our actions, and our labor, what we want. Everything from the quality of our housing, through the mode of transportation we use, to what we eat and wear is decided individually within the marketplace. Through the market, in this way, we constantly shape, and revise our culture in a daily process which would be impossible through the vote or the political system. In an open market, free enterprise system like ours, the marketplace rules, and we in turn rule the marketplace.
    Unfortunately, this is a freedom which many would try to moderate, or even eliminate in an attempt to impose their own direction on our culture in place of the one we would choose ourselves. This is what the socialist states do, and is what many liberals would wish for this country, provided of course, that they were at the helm. The faults of trying to overcome or impose government controls on the marketplace are well illustrated by every socialist, and communist country in the world. The shortages, the poor quality, the lack of service, and poor design, are legendary in places like the former Soviet Union. Actually, even these examples show the marketplace at work, stunted though it may be. The ponderous inefficiency, and unresponsiveness of the Soviet system spawned the huge black market, and empowered the all encompassing Russian Mafia which all but rules that country today. This criminal organization is composed largely of former and current members of the Soviet military, and police. The nearest this country ever got to such a thing (other than under the current left leaning government) was the rise of the criminal organizations of the twenties, and thirties. These too, were the result of poor government policies, as are most of the great evils in the world. As long as the free market exists, we will be a free society, which explains the determined efforts of some to interfere with it. Even the wealthy, and the largest corporations must respond to the dictates of a free market or risk losing their wealth and being replaced by those who will more competently respond to market forces.
    Keeping the free market free ought to be one of the primary concerns of the Federal government, but of late this seems not to be the  case. If anything, the government has interfered with the market, and undercut the integrity of our currency to the effect that it is amazing that the economy works as well as it does. Government interference with business is legendary, even in industries of which the present leadership considers suitable for their approval. Regarding industries of which it does not approve, or of which it is perceived that disapproval may earn some measure of political advantage, hell on Earth may be expected. Affected industries include those producing firearms, tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, paints, petroleum, and the nuclear industry. It should be noted that the effect upon every one of these industries is one of increased cost to the consumer, a reduction in the ability to innovate, and an increase in time to the market. Industries which are sometimes singled out, depending on the mood of the times, are the automobile industry, banking, the computer industry (clipper chip, embedded I.D., restrictions on encryption , etc.), and the telecom industry. It is interesting to note that non productive entities such as the legal profession, entertainment industry, and news media, along with the insurance industry, remain untouched whatever abuses and damage they inflict upon our culture and upon us as individuals.
    One often overlooked, or at any rate under rated, consequence of a free market is the tendency it has to compel people to do their best, to compete, to rise to the top. Such incentive is all but unachievable in nations which stifle the free market. We reward the people who best serve the market, by giving them our business, we discourage those who serve us and the market badly, by putting them out of business. These decisions are not made by any lofty individual, or by any team of "experts", but are made by the whole of the population of this nation on a daily basis; the ultimate democracy. We decide, not only what should be done, but how it should be accomplished, and by whom it is being accomplished in a way which best serves our own individual interests. I hate to be so redundant on this point, but I want to emphasize the power and the freedom which this tool gives to us all. This is a very disturbing state of affairs for those who believe in the centralization of power. These people are always striving to control the market, or at any rate to put what they consider to be reasonable checks and balances on it, as if the reasoning of the citizenry of this country were not to be trusted .This is yet another indication of the contempt that many on the left hold the electorate. We may not be trusted even to spend our own earnings in whatever way we deem appropriate, without the control, or at least the consent of the powers that be.
    It is unfortunate for us all, that a belief exists in the minds of some, that politics is a profession, rather than a service to the country. This mindset compels some to see it as their duty to extend their reach into every part of our public and private lives. It is as if any facet of our lives which has not been regulated or codified is a reflection of a failure or oversight on the part of the legislature. It is this belief, in some cases a sincere desire to do what's right, in others a mere desire for power, which is at the root of so much bad government. Attempts at controlling, or buffering the marketplace, which spring from this attitude, are always doomed to disaster. It is typical of the arrogance of many on the left that they would presume to control the business cycle, and protect us from the natural laws of commerce. No legislation can change the nature of the marketplace, but poor legislation aimed at exerting control over will greatly impair our ability to function freely within it.
    While a great deal of effort seems to be directed at removing control of the economy from us, and centrally controlling it with a system of government checks, there seems to be little effort made in the worthwhile direction of controlling the currency. Such an effort to stabilize the currency would be a real service, and is an obligation which the Federal government has had since it compelled us to use paper money in the last century. Until the early nineteen seventies, it was not legal for an individual to own gold bullion. This had been decided by the federal government over a century ago in an attempt to force all of the states, and all individuals, into an acceptance of a single, federal currency. This currency was backed (at least initially) by an equal value of gold, held in reserve. There are some advantages to this, primarily for banking and government, but there are also some disadvantages. The advantages have to do with the provision of a universal medium of barter with an established value, and with being able to control the money supply and therefore the rate of commerce and growth. The disadvantages are in the matters of placing the control of the fuel for the economy in the hands of the government, and making inflation possible. After the fit of inflation in the 1970's, most people now know that serious inflation is made possible by an economy run totally on paper money. This is a lesson Germany learned to the sorrow of it's citizens back in the thirties, and which most nations learn in time of war.
    When people bartered goods, the medium of exchange, whether it be a cow, horse, tract of land, or a tool, had some value as a commodity. Intrinsically, money is only worth the paper it is printed on. We accept it as a surrogate for the gold, and silver held in reserve to back it. In theory, the total value of all of the money in circulation is only worth the value of the reserves backing it. Unfortunately, this central control of commerce opens up the opportunity to increase the money supply beyond what is held in reserve. When this is done inflation is the result, as the real value of money drops down to the level of the reserves. We were first taken off of a true gold standard during W.W.I. Since that time, the government has become increasingly bold about printing up money in excess of the reserves. A good illustration of the real nature of inflation was unwittingly given by a gun writer when reviewing the old Colt Single action Revolver. This gun was first introduced back in 1873, or thereabouts. The writer noted that at the time of it's introduction, the gun could be had for $20. He commented on what he thought was a strange coincidence. It seems that a Colt Single, can still be had for the same amount of money---a $20 gold piece. Of course $20 gold pieces are worth considerably more than $20 these days, but the amount of gold contained in one is still worth about the same as a Colt revolver. So when currency is inflated, the pieces of goods and services does not rice, rather the value of money drops.
    In a barter economy, or one with a strictly backed currency, inflation can not occur. Neither can counterfeiting, nor banking, as it is today practiced, exist. With the government unable to control commerce by controlling the amount and value of the currency, the market is open and free. Taxes are much more difficult to asses and collect. Money may not simply be produced to meet present needs, but must be collected and stored in a treasury. Deficit spending is nearly impossible except through the sales of bonds, or the imposition of forced loans. Banks too, must collect and store money in order to make loans. They may not simply have the government print up and distribute it through the federal reserve. Considering these facts, is it any surprise that governments around the world rushed to emplace paper currency, and the reserve system? I would not propose we go off the reserve system, but I would like to see men of more restraint handle it a bit more responsibly than has been the case so far this century.
    A free economy and open market is probably one of our greatest freedoms, and one of the best fuels for a constantly improving standard of living. It is also a great guaranty that a measure of power, independence, and self determination will remain to each of us as individuals. Interference with the marketplace, and attempts at manipulating and controlling it, rob us of a proportionate amount of our freedom, independence, and the results of our strivings, ideas and efforts. All of these things are ours by right, by law, and by nature. Anyone who interferes with these things or diminishes them or their value, wrongs us.