Read CHAPTER V of Frenzied Finance Vol. 1: The Crime of Amalgamated , free online book, by Thomas W. Lawson, on ReadCentral.com.

THE POWER OF DOLLARS

At no time in the history of the United States has the power of dollars been as great as now. Freedom and equity are controlled by dollars. The laws which should preserve and enforce all rights are made and enforced by dollars. It is possible to-day, with dollars, to “steer” the selection of the candidates of both the great parties for the highest office in our republic, that of President of the United States. It is possible to repeat the operation in the selection of candidates for the executive and legislative conduct and control of every State and municipality in the United States, and with a sufficient number of dollars to “steer” the doings of the law-makers and law-enforcers of the national, State, and municipal governments of the people, and to “steer” a sufficient proportion of the court decisions to make absolute any power created by such direction. It is all, broadly speaking, a matter of dollars practically to accomplish these things. I must not be misunderstood as even insinuating that there are not absolutely honest law-makers and law-enforcers, nor that there are not as many of them in proportion to the whole body as there were at the creation of our republic. I believe there is at the present time as large a percentage of honesty among Americans as ever there has been, but it is plainly evident to any student of the times that at no other period in the history of the United States has honesty been so completely “steered” by dishonesty as at this, the beginning of the twentieth century.

I shall go further and say that there to-day exists uncontrolled in the hands of a set of men a power to make dollars from nothing. That function of dollar-making which the people believe is vested in their Government alone and only exercised under the law for their benefit, is actually being secretly exercised on an enormous scale by a few private individuals for their own personal benefit. This, I am well aware, is a startling statement, but not more so than the facts which support it. Throughout the country we have all grown accustomed to the spectacle of men who, poor yesterday, to-day display more dollars than the kings and queens of olden times controlled. In flaunting this money these men proudly boast: “We made all this yesternight, and are going to multiply it five-or fifty-fold to-morrow night.”

The fact that there must be in this country some secret method of gaining vast fortunes gradually dawned on the minds of the people. This method, they argued, must be outside the laws of the land which they themselves had made, and they were confronted with the fact that the possessors of these fabulous fortunes were creating a power not recognized by their Government and which practically placed the Government in the hands of the fortune-owners. They realized that in some way the magic of this fortune-making was connected with, or seemed to be compounded in, institutions called corporations and trusts, and that among these the head and centre was a great affair called “Standard Oil.” Wherever this “Standard Oil” was, all knew that strange wonders were worked. Within the sphere of its influence dirt changed to gold, liquids to solids, and what was, was not, and what was not, was. Whoever became a part of this mysterious “Standard Oil,” at the same time was rendered “powerful”; as though touched by a fairy’s wand, he changed from pauper to millionaire. But what was “Standard Oil”? The people knew that at the beginning it was only an aggregation of men, private individuals, who had accumulated much money by securing a monopoly of selling oil, and that these men were “Rockefellers,” and that Standard Oil and “Rockefellers” had been cute and cunning in the conduct of their oil-selling to a degree greater than had been rival sellers of oil or of other necessities. And as time wore on much more was heard of the cleverness of Standard Oil and “Rockefellers,” as the victims of the cuteness and the cunning “hollered” in public places, and the newspapers and writers of books exclaimed against their practices and exactions. But many other things were happening simultaneously, and to the great bulk of the people it was interesting rather than portentous that there existed in the country a giant oil-thing whose owners were reputed the richest men in the world.

It was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that the monster “Standard Oil” loomed up before the people as the giant of all corporate things and that its ominous shadow seemed to dwarf all other institutions, public or private. In multitudinous forms it was before the people.

In awed whispers men talked of its mysterious doings and canvassed its extraordinary powers as though “Standard Oil” were a living, breathing entity rather than a mere business institution created by men and existing only by virtue of the laws of the land.

About the time that the world had begun mistily to take in the tremendous forces which radiated from “Standard Oil,” there occurred a financial crash, and the people saw their savings, invested in what they supposed were the legal and absolute titles of ownership in the material things of their country, suddenly decline in value and contract to prices representing a loss to them of billions of dollars. Throughout the misery and suffering this terrible collapse occasioned, “Standard Oil” remained undisturbed as before and amid all the confusion kept sternly on its dollar-"making” way. Indeed, it seemed to gain in bulk as other institutions diminished or disappeared. Then it was that the people first began to demand, what they are still to-day fiercely demanding, “What is this ’Standard Oil’?” “What is its secret?” “Whence came it?” and, “Can our republic endure if it, too, endures?”

To-day “Standard Oil,” the “Private Thing,” is the greatest power in the land more powerful than the people individually or as a whole, and its secret is the knowledge of the trick of finance by which dollars are “made” from nothing in unlimited quantities subject to no laws of man nor nature. The dollars that “Standard Oil” makes are of the same value as the dollars of the people as made by the Government, which dollars we know can be coined and put into circulation only in accordance with law and for the benefit of all the people.

For the better understanding of those readers not versed in the technical phrases of finance and economics I shall in my narrative make use of certain terms of my own which will convey meanings readily grasped when the sense in which they are used is once comprehended. In speaking of “Standard Oil,” for instance, I will speak of it as a “Private Thing.” By that term I desire to typify the active, private identity of a corporation which comprehends, but exists independently of, its legalized functions. Some corporations have a real personality in addition to that which their name and the corporation laws prescribe for them, an inherent power, or individuality, which exists above and apart from their physical functions as sellers of oil, of coal, or of ice. This may be an incarnation of the power developed in the transaction of their legalized occupations, but the “Private Thing” is uncontrolled by any of the restrictions by which the law defines and curbs the corporation whose name it bears. Already I have distinguished between “Standard Oil” which wields all the powers of its subsidiary companies, and Standard Oil, the seller of oil. In the same way we have “American Sugar Refineries” and “United States Steel,” the “Private Things” which are not one whit better than nor different from “Standard Oil,” the “Private Thing.” Though this narrative will deal only with the “Private Things,” Bay State Gas and Amalgamated Copper, I have no hesitancy in saying that the methods employed and the results, good or bad, which accrued in the case of any of the other “Private Things” with which the public have had to do, differ only in details from those with which I shall deal in my story.

In speaking of dollars brought into existence by the trick of finance I have referred to I shall call them henceforth “made dollars,” to distinguish them from dollars coined by the Government and legitimately acquired by the individual or corporation. These “made dollars,” it must be remembered, are really “made” for all purposes of use as surely as if they had the Government’s stamp, yet they are not made in the sense of the known volume of the people’s money being added to. So, however many of these “made dollars” are brought into existence by this trick of finance, only the men who “made” them can know and profit by their existence. The people are no wiser nor can they adjust themselves to the change of conditions brought about by the creation of all this new money; yet if “unmade” or lost, the entire volume of the nation’s wealth would be contracted.

I can set before my readers better by an illustration than by any process of definition, the trick of finance by which “made dollars” are brought into existence. Let us suppose that the United States Government at Washington, the only power legally entitled to issue money for circulation among the people, puts forth a particular $10,000. All the conditions prescribed by law have been followed, and all the people in the country are benefited by the issue and circulation of this particular $10,000, each in the proportion the laws prescribe.

“B,” a Western farmer, tills his soil and receives, by the sale of his wheat, the particular $10,000, which he then deposits in The Bank. The Bank, being a part of the Government machinery, only receives, holds, and uses the $10,000 under safeguards provided for by the laws of the land, so hereafter “B’s” material life is conducted on the basis that he is the full and actual possessor of $10,000. He knows, further, that his $10,000 cannot be expanded nor contracted, nor its relation to any of the other money of the people which is in circulation altered without his knowledge, because he knows such changes cannot come about except through the Government. I say he knows this he has every right to believe he knows it but, in fact, it is not so, because of the working of the secret financial device of the Private Thing. At this stage enters “C,” the Private Thing.

“C” purchases with $3,300 ("B’s” money) which he borrows from The Bank, a copper-mine, depositing the title which he receives from the seller with The Bank as collateral for the $3,300. After purchasing he arbitrarily calls the copper-mine worth $10,000 arbitrarily because his act is not controlled nor regulated by any of the laws of the land arbitrarily because the actual cost, $3,300, is his secret and his alone. Then, arbitrarily, “C” organizes his $3,300 of copper property into the Arbitrary Copper Company, and issues to himself a piece of paper, which he arbitrarily stamps “10,000 stock dollars.” This he takes to The Bank, and by loan or other device exchanges it for the remaining $6,700 belonging to “B,” and thereafter “C” conducts his affairs on the basis that he is the possessor of $6,700, his “made dollars” in the transaction. At this stage there is actually in use among the people $16,700 where “B,” the legitimate factor, and his kind, the people, suppose there is but $10,000 $10,000 which is recorded, known and legal, being used by the legitimate factors, “B” and The Bank, and $6,700 which is unrecorded and unknown to any but “C” and The Bank, being used by the illegitimate Private Thing “C.”

Right here is the secret device, the financial trick, by which the greatest power in the land has been created, and by which the people can be absolutely plundered of their savings for the benefit of the few.

At this stage the two-thirds of “B’s” $10,000, of which he later is to be plundered, has not been actually taken away, so he cannot possibly have any evidence yet of the process of pillage which has been begun, or that the volume of money which he supposes is all that exists has been tremendously expanded. The next step is where “C” sells his $3,300, stamped “10,000 stock dollars” (which, as already shown, he has exchanged with The Bank for the $10,000 deposited by “B"), to “B” for $10,000, which $10,000 “B” withdraws from The Bank by simply making out a check in favor of “C.” ("B’s” inducement to exchange his dollars for the stock dollars of “C” is the high rate of interest that they will return in the form of dividends, which rate is much larger than The Bank can afford to pay.) “C” deposits “B’s” check with The Bank and hereby liquidates his $10,000 indebtedness to The Bank.

At this stage “B” is still the possessor of $10,000, but it is “10,000 stock dollars.” “C” is the possessor of $6,700, and “D,” from whom the copper-mine was purchased, is the possessor of $3,300; but the two latter amounts make up the 10,000 real dollars, and The Bank remains where it was at the beginning of the transaction. The people, however, are no wiser; but they know, because they have been most carefully educated to such knowledge by “C’s” agents, Wall Street, and the press, that their country is tremendously prosperous that its great prosperity is evidenced by the $6,700 added wealth in the form of 6,700 new stock dollars. At the next stage the financial trick accomplished by the secret device is complete. “B,” the farmer, who has contracted for new machinery and other necessities and luxuries to be paid for “next season,” attempts next season to turn his 10,000 stock dollars into real dollars, and “C,” the Private Thing, knowing their real value to be but $3,300, refuses to make the exchange, but instead, by proclaiming their real value, compels “B,” who must have real dollars to meet his debts, to sell them for what “C,” the Private Thing, is willing to pay. “C,” the Private Thing, is willing to pay their worth, which he alone knows is $3,300; he repurchases them at that price from “B,” that he may repeat the operation at the return of the next “wave of the country’s prosperity.”

By this operation “B,” the farmer, has lost, as absolutely as though they had been taken away from him by a Government decree, $6,700 of his own making, and “C,” the Private Thing, has “made,” as absolutely as though the Government had allowed him to coin them for his own benefit, 6,700 real dollars, and The Bank, created, regulated, and controlled by law, and existing because of the people’s deposits of money, has been the instrument by which “C,” the Private Thing, has deprived “B,” the farmer, of his savings, because “C,” the Private Thing, is at one and the same time during the operation I have outlined, himself and The Bank.

A careful study of this illustration, by even laymen unacquainted with financial or corporation affairs, will clearly show that the foundation of this transaction was The Bank’s putting in jeopardy $3,300 of “B’s” deposited $10,000, and that if the $3,300, after being put in jeopardy, had been lost, “B” would have been the loser, which, in turn, means that the compensation for the jeopardy in which the $3,300 was placed was the possibility of $6,700 profit; and that, therefore, the $6,700 profit when made should have gone to the owner of the $3,300, “B,” instead of to “C,” the user of it.

It is therefore in this sense that I shall use the term “made dollars” wherever they are “made” or “unmade” through one set of men using the dollars of another set of men without that other set knowing that their dollars are being so used; and wherever the result of such use is that when dollars are “made,” they are “made” by the ones who use others’ money, and where dollars are “unmade,” they are lost by the ones who own the dollars which they don’t know are being used.