In my latest reading of End the Fed, Ron Paul talks about the people who intellectually influenced him, and Paul mentions his upbringing and certain economists whom he met, read, and heard.
person who influenced Ron Paul was a janitor who worked at his high
school when Paul was young. This janitor complained about the bankers,
and Ron Paul says that he (Ron Paul) didn't know enough at the time to
probe the janitor about this. But years later, in thinking back, Ron
Paul speculates that the janitor was probably a "product of the
Populist-Progressive Era of the late 1800s and the early 1900s", and
that the janitor was perhaps "influenced by William Jennings Bryan's
populism and attacks on bankers" (page 41).
Ron Paul then talks
about William Jennings Bryan. Paul notes that Bryan was not a champion
of "our cause" (page 41). Paul states that Bryan was not a libertarian,
and (although Paul does not say so explicitly, at least not in my
latest reading) Paul probably also has a problem with Bryan's opposition
to the gold standard and support for free silver. Yet, Paul expresses
admiration for Bryan because Bryan opposed central banking and praised
Andrew Jackson's attack on the Bank of the United States.
Ron Paul's anecdote and reflections on Bryan for a variety of reasons.
First, it's eye-opening and sobering to realize that there was a time
when the people who are currently up there in years were young, and at
that time they themselves knew people who were up there in years. Time
marches on! I consider those who lived during the time of Franklin
Roosevelt to be up there in years, but there was a time when they
themselves were young, and the older generation of their day had
experienced things earlier than Roosevelt, such as World War I and the
progressive movement. And, like Paul, we can find ourselves in a
situation where we move on in years and gain understanding, and we wish
that we could have asked the older generation of our youth some
questions that in our youth did not occur to us.
appreciate the fact that Paul acknowledges value in what William
Jennings Bryan said and did, even though Paul is clear that he does not
agree with Bryan on a lot of things. I wish people in politics saw
value in the other side more often.
Third, it's ironic
that, today, many (such as Ron Paul) who criticize the Federal Reserve
and central banks tend to support the gold standard, when that was not
always the case. As I write about here,
Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930's was a critic of international
bankers, yet he also opposed the gold standard. See also Emanuel Josephson's discussion of a scarcity vs. a surplus economy. I have much to learn
about why the Free Silver movement existed at the turn of the century. From what I read online
and in a book on economics, it had to do with enabling farmers and
ranchers to pay their debts. Free silver would weaken the dollar and
expand the money supply and thus make the debts more manageable.
Imagine paying off a debt from (say 1900) with today's dollars. The
debt wouldn't be much because of inflation----what was a lot of money
back then is not a lot of money now. Free silver was
championed by proponents as a defense of the little guy against the rich
and powerful. You can read and listen to Bryan's speech here.