In thinking about the term "moochandise" (below) to describe election campaign schwag (prompted by the "O" logo used by the Obama campaign), I reread a few quotes from Ayn Rand about "moochers" and "looters." I came across the following brilliant quote:
As great as the quote is, it and others like it have confused generations of dim-witted U.S. voters, even those who have read "Atlas Shrugged." I have a better, clearer, more obvious formulation of the quote, with the addition of a few essential words. Here it is: "Run for your life from any man who tells you that earned money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter."
There are people who consider themselves liberals who are essentially liberals in the tradition of Hayek. Such people, at the rare higher intelligence levels, often note that they don't have a problem with money and trade, that they have a problem with stolen money and unfree trade that is protected by force from competition. These are not problems with earned money. ...They are problems with central bank war profiteers who print money from nothing, and use coercive legal tender laws to force individuals to accept it. That isn't earning money, it's stealing it.
Stolen money is the root of all evil. The theft of money allows for the product of theft to be accepted as a representation of labor. The use of money to represent labor (voluntary manual labor or voluntary intellectual labor) is almost universally accepted. However, when money is stolen, it allows value to be claimed by the valueless. Something that is normally acceptable to all (money earned by free trade, and free trade itself: the exchange of labor for a representation of labor) is then often reinvested in the marketplace of theft, the political marketplace.
Most people only see the evil of that reinvestment (lobbying, campaign contributions that go to the biggest looter and wealth redistributor, payment of political favors, payment to coercive government institutions, payment to social engineering government programs, payment to world-government projects of the central bankers, payment to set up schemes that loot the productive --such as carbon credit trading). This gives rise to narrow-minded socialist liberals rejecting the concept of money, when what they should be doing is pointing out the massiveness of the theft involved in fiat money.
Rand never fully opposed fiat currency. She viewed it as less immoral and wrong than outright obvious government coercion, or as a "stopgap measure." Her institute eventually took a strong stance against fiat currency manipulators. Prior to that, the greatest opponents to fiat currency were more mainstream libertarian philosophers such as Murray N. Rothbard, G. Edward Griffin, and Harry Browne. Of course, Ron Paul has been consistently against the immoral manipulation of the currency supply by the powerful few.
In a way, fiat currency is the laundering of labor. Imagine that the central bank prints a billion dollars and uses that freshly printed money to pay armed DEA stormtroopers to raid an apartment full of hippies who were growing marijuana in their apartment. The marijuana was a good and the sale of that marijuana was a service. That good and that service are taken off the market, by force. The lives of the marijuana growers are then violated, as are all their freedoms under the now defunct and legally non-existent "Bill of Rights." The apartment is now vacant, and perhaps months of rent is not paid. Nobody wins from this naked aggression.
But when the agents who were paid for the raid are paid, they receive something that falsely appears to be a "representation of labor."
There would be very few people saying "money is the root of all evil," if there was a free market in money.
So, how is there not a free market in money? Can't an individual still buy gold and silver coins?
Well, yes and no. The government doesn't like it when you're very successful at buying gold and silver coins, which is why they created the "legal tender laws." If your gold and silver coins become very popular, you will be raided by government stormtroopers, and they will confiscate your belongings. They will confiscate your computers, your gold and silver, your customer records, and your entire physical plant, including the real-estate your business occupies. That is precisely what happened to Bernard von Nothaus, the originator of the Liberty Dollar.
The federal tax code, as enforced by the IRS and U.S. Treasury, is unconstitutional and "null and void" and only enforceable via criminal action by a criminal government ("All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution, are null and void." Chief Justice Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, 5, U.S. (Cranch) 137, 174,176.). you will be targeted for arrest and put in prison, like Irwin Schiff was. Irwin's crime was speech, which makes him a political prisoner whose only crime was civil disobedience to illegitimate and unconstitutional "laws."
The AOCS (American Open Currency Standard) has not yet been raided, but they are not yet as large and successful as the Liberty Dollar was. Since the AOCS also represent a means of U.S. citizens escaping the loss of their life-savings via inflation, it is likely they too will eventually be targeted by government aggression, once they have enough money to make it worth stealing. By this coercion and theft, the government generates stolen money, not earned money. It is "stolen" because it is an inferior product, competitors are not allowed to compete with it, and all people in the U.S. and world economy are forced to transact business with it. U.S. citizens (more properly termed "submitizens" since a citizen has a say in the form of law and government he lives within, whereas a "submitizen" lives under the laws of the central bank --as all residents of the USA currently do) are forced to use the U.S. dollar as a representation of their labor.
By forcing someone to represent their labor with low-cost pieces of paper that only one small group of people (central bankers) has control over, everyone is stolen from to the extent that the bankers mint excess currency, and divert it to programs that are not voluntarily purchased on the free market. I didn't voluntarily pay stormtroopers to raid and imprison Irwin Schiff --the treasury printed money to do that. I didn't pay stormtroopers to raid peaceful marijuana growers, forcing the trade of marijuana into a violent black market, --the treasury printed money to do that. I didn't pay stormtroopers to raid Bernard von Nothaus's "Liberty Dollar," or federal prosecutors to overstep their bounds, persecute, and imprison him with a prosecution-rigged jury --the treasury printed money to do that. So, the people who print the money can use that money to redirect labor, even though their act of printing the money via a government-enforced monopoly is actually subtractive to the representation of labor. This is true both because government enforcement interferes with all other forms of labor, and because the act of printing the money inflates the currency (at zero labor cost to the printer).
So what about all the constructive goods and services the dollar pays for?
...I did buy groceries with money that the treasury also printed, (because I was afraid of being raided by government stormtroopers for "violating the legal tender laws" if I used an alternate currency). So, if I said to the grocery store owner, "Money is the root of all evil" he would rightfully look at me as if I was, myself, evil (unless he fully comprehends the nature of fiat currency, and its full propensity for government manipulation. At which point, he still would not know how I was interpreting the term. Possibly, I have a stupid socialist conception of money, or possibly I have a high-level comprehension of money, or a mix of both. In short, language doesn't serve to make us political allies in this situation. ...Simply qualifying the statement as "Stolen money is the root of all evil" quickly clears up this source of frequent and great misunderstanding.). After all, the money I gave to him paid for the producers of tomatoes, canned beans, foreign luxuries like dark chocolate, etc... That money also paid him to feed, clothe, house, and school his family. So, when the money is used to represent labor such as that, as well as my labor which paid for the groceries, it is the root of all good. It is the root of "finding ways in which we can voluntarily interact with each other," as well as voluntarily distribute goods and services. Earned money is the mechanism that allows pricing to work.
When central bankers print money, they are not earning it. They are using positions of privilege to extort the ability to create "money" out of thin air. After the money (representation of labor) is stolen this way, it then goes into the economy and is earned, but at a lower economic hierarchical level than the purpose it was printed for. So, the greatest masses of money (previously possessed only by the most productive members of society,, before the Federal Reserve Act and later, when there was a perception that the dollar was at least marginally-related to gold) are now increasingly possessed by the least productive, most-thieving members of society. As the Federal Reserve tries to bail out failing institutions, their immense but unearned responsibility (irresponsibility) for stabilizing the market via harsh decisions will more obviously fail.
Since the general public doesn't understand this, and incorrectly blames the central planners (laughably) for "creating laissez-faire economic policies," let's go back to the individual's perspective:
Without the legal tender laws, I would have traded a gold or silver coin to the grocer, because that currency would be in common circulation, since it always outperforms the dollar, long-term. The value of that coin would have fluctuated in terms of foreign fiat currencies, or even the government's own quasi-governmental fiat currency. But it would be easy for the same computerized apparatus that lists price changes in terms of dollars in the grocery store to list price fluctuations in terms of weights of gold, silver, and copper. (A one ounce silver coin is now worth approximately $30 in Federal Reserve Notes, and pre-1965 U.S. quarters and dimes are approximately 71% silver, and can easily be used as silver money.) One gram pieces of gold are already sold in foreign airports, bonded to plastic cards from which they can be easily collected at a later date, if need be. Therefore, as a representation of labor, gold and silver are very good, because they can never lose their core values, as scarce industrial metals or jewelry metals.
The great hope of the future is in the use of bitcoins, or an even more advanced future form of digital currency, whose value is measured in terms of network connectivity or computer power (perhaps calculations-per-second), or via evolving parallel institutions that make the enforcement of the legal tender laws impossible. The discussion of "countereconomics" in Samuel Konkin III's "The New Libertarian Manifesto," explores options for increasing individual liberty that do not involve electoral participation (he was morally opposed to voting). The following books also reveal further options for increasing individual freedom, (typically without Konkin's opposition to effective pro-freedom electoral participation, and sometimes exploiting synergy with it): Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice, We, The Jury, Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine, An Essay on the Trial By Jury, The Freedom Outlaw's Handbook.
The singularity or economic catastrophe will ultimately kill the enslaving institution of central banking, if it hasn't already been killed by those who love individual freedom. Hopefully, us human-level intelligences will get to enjoy some time free from fiat currency for some simple mammalian pleasures. A positive first step would be to demand passage of Ron Paul's Free Competition in Currency Act. If this act is not passed, you will continue to be looted, and your life savings redirected to socialist boondoggles and active violence against the innocent.