Steve Forbes and some of his circle have just done the country—and the world—a great service. They have produced a wonderful new documentary called In Money We Trust. It’s not about why we should trust money; it's about why money should be trustworthy, and what happens when it is not.
When government debases currency, it destroys lives, causes global economic chaos and destroys the middle class. It shreds the interwoven network of social fiber which keeps us civilized. Contrary to the cliché that the taxes we pay to the government are the price we pay for civilization, it's far more likely that the honor which government pays to the idea of sound money is the price of civilization. Case in point: the anti-civilization known as Nazism. Before Germany saw Hitler, it first saw hyperinflation. Because Jews were often shopkeepers (having been denied other options), they were convenient scapegoats for that hyper-Inflation. So debased currency and rising prices led to anti-Semitism. Jewish store owners were blamed for the inflation (of which they were actually victims) by a government that was actually the cause of it. Kristallnacht, the breaking of windows, was the result of this error as store windows were shattered because mobs didn't like the prices displayed there. Synagogues were attacked by the hundreds, but businesses were attacked by the thousands. Kristallnacht was an inflation riot, and a racist one to be sure, but that's part of the syndrome. When government destroys money, it destroys trust and trust 'breaks' along the already vulnerable seams of society: anti-Jewish sentiment, anti-Hutu sentiment, anti-foreigner sentiment, superstitions… which brings us to witch hunts. Forbes points out that there is data showing a correlation between hyperinflation and witch burnings.
My own research indicates that the most famous act of scapegoating in human history, the crucifixion of Jesus, is likely tied to a similar boom/bust economic dynamic, as the easy money policies of Augustus were cut off by a tight money deflationary depression in 33 AD. You can read a detailed case for this here.
I would also point out that the great persecuting emperors such as Nero and Diocletian were also the great currency debasers. Hatred of sound money is hatred of human dignity, and outsiders are the first to have their dignity stolen.
I spent a delightful hour across a Skype line with Mr. Forbes, but unfortunately technical issues have made the recording unusable (thankfully, inflation levels are not running high enough for me to blame witches). Steve has suggested tongue-in-cheek that maybe the Fed interfered, but since the interference succeeded, I think we can safely rule the Fed out.
But have no fear, Steve has graciously offered to record another conversation with me in the future, and the link to the documentary is working just fine at www.inmoneywetrust.org, where it can be viewed for free. I watched it twice.
As the left pushes outlandish spending sprees such as the Green New Deal, we will see an inevitable arc towards using monetary debasement as the means to finance it. They won't call it debasement; they'll call it Modern Monetary Theory, but it's about as modern as alchemy. We need to understand that monetary debasement is not victimless. In fact, it victimizes the whole society, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Be sure to watch In Money We Trust and share it with others. It's also playing on various PBS stations around the country. You can find the broadcast schedule on the web site. If your local station isn't on the list, do your community a favor and call them to request it.