The Gold Standard
Henry H. Hardinge
[Reprinted from the Single Tax Review, 1915]
A "Standard" is an invariable quantity, or quality, and the
instant any appreciable variation from a fixed standard occurs, the
standard has disappeared.
"Invariability" is the distinguishing quality of any
standard and if Prof. Irving Fisher's theory as to the "redundancy"
of gold and the high cost of fiving is sound, then the much vaunted "standard
of value" upon which our allied economists laid so much stress in
the first Bryan campaign in 1896 has utterly disappeared, and we have
nothing left but a unit of exchange, the decimal dollar, and a lot of
financial vapor, instead of the "honest dollar" of our good "gold
friends of the valiant past.
This "honest dollar" has other angles, however, that are
worthy of serious consideration at the present time.
If the Irving Fisher explanation is sound, then the greatest crime
(except war) that can be committed against a people has been
perpetrated against the great mass of our citizens by advancing the
cost of living in the face of marvelously accentuated producing power
due to the march of invention.
According to this "highly elastic" theory the transcendent
benefits which in the very nature of things should be at once
reflected in the lives and welfare of the people have been largely
neutralized by the money system upon which the Mark Hanna Patriots of
'96 staked their grafts, their fortunes and their sacred honor, and
won against the "Robespierre" Bryan, who threatened the
integrity of our sound and stable dollar; and now the professorial
mouthpiece of the safe, sane and conservative elements in our rich,
righteous and respectable society are charging this same honest and
dependable dollar with the uncounted miseries of the poor, and the
dwindling purchasing power of the fixed salaries of our great hosts of
clerks, clerics, clergy and economic clairvoyants who have done such
valiant service in maintaining the "statu quo."
Can it be that this is but another case of poetic and retributive
Justice? Let us now delve deeper into the accented and wordy
explanation of this mysterious phenomenon and subject it to logical
If an "values" are fixed and determined by gold, then it
follows in logical sequence that if a seam of gold 20 ft. in thickness
were found containing millions of tons of it, the value of everything
else measured by gold would rise, as the value of gold fell, and only
the "very rich" could afford to buy anything, and then only
for a short time, and the condition of the gold mine owners would be
pitiable indeed; they would be bankrupted by the very plethora of
wealth by which they were surrounded and in which they were saturated,
immersed and drowned, as it were.
On the other hand, if by some freak of nature gold were to suddenly
shrink in volume, and become as scarce as radium, its value would at
once rise into unthinkable figures and the value of everything else
(measured by gold) would go down practically to zero, and we could buy
everything we wanted without money, because prices and values would
Now these are inescapable deductions from the premises of the gold
theorists, logical deductions following logical reasoning from a
perfectly preposterous assumption.
No matter which way you travel, you reach an absurdity.
Not long ago the Scientific American (note the word) endorsed
the Fisher view and seemed to think that it was the most rational
thing in the world, which is to say, that there is nothing more
irrational than college economics and a certain brand of scientific
The simple facts are that more than half of the property values in
this country are "law-made," land and franchise values,
while less than half are "labor-made," industrial values,
and these law-made values are constantly and rapidly expanding, much
more rapidly expanding than are the labor- made values.
Furthermore, the law-made values have validity and value only insofar
as they enable the owners to levy tribute upon the makers of labor
This process can be continued indefinitely, or, until the sum of
ciphers is exhausted, a very remote possibility.
Now, Prof. Fisher and the rest of the cult, instead of taking issue
with this colossal capitalized graft try to befog the whole situation
with illogical, wordy and vainglorious theories, which to the average
man mean nothing, and to the thinker foolishness, and sometimes less.
As a matter of cold fact the whole problem of the high cost of living
can be explained in a single pithy sentence. We have inflated to
outrageous and unreasonable dimensions the value of nature*s bounties,
which she gave to us without price, and because of the gigantic "rakeoff"
which goes to monopoly for doing nothing at all, we are, as a nation,
staggering under an intolerable burden.
This is the price we must pay for privilege and it isn't worth it.
Just as the "squid" in the ocean ejects an inky fluid into
the surrounding waters to hide himself from his natural enemies, so
does the conventional professor of political economy becloud the
intellectual atmosphere all around him by introducing extraneous
issues into a subject, which, if bereft of their foreign and
irrelevant elements, would at once result in economic clarity and
It seems to me that the net result of the deliberations of such men
to the nation at large can be completely summed up in the good old
English term, utter worthlessness.
They charge the evils of the present industrial age to the "gold
standard" which in itself is a fetish comparable to the
protective tariff in its utter foolishness, and refuse to abandon, or
even attack the alleged standard, which by their copious but illogical
processes of reasoning results in vacuous conclusions and hopeless or
If the chemistry^ mechanics and science in general, taught in our
universities were as "inept and dreamy" as the political
economy disseminated for the last half century in these scholastic
establishments, they would be the laughing stock of the whole world of
applied science, and would have neither place nor utility in the
wonderful and complex mechanism of our modem industrial age.
Every science that touches production has to be true, logical,
reasonable and sane in order to be useful; this is the supreme test of
any science. Can it be used to solve problems?
This is also the supreme test of the value and validity of economic
science and when this test is applied to the solution of the money
question, or the trust question, or the problem of monopoly in
general, the professorial cult in general display their chief agility
in side-stepping the real issue and evading practicable plans for
relieving the great mass of the people from the exactions of the
When the political and economic "free lances" of this
country have educated a sufficient number of people to appreciate the
advantage of straight thinking upon economic questions, we may then
expect the college professors to fall in line and endorse a reasonable
measure of economic science which, when applied to modem industry,
will democratize and humanize it.