In favor of annual flooding and the Liberty Dollar

Lots of media coverage of flooding in the Midwest and South this spring, presumably because there was lots of flooding.

I’m sure this either proves or disproves that the globe is warming, or both.

(It also reminds us that, if we could really afford a big new national public works project, which we can’t, piping excess water over the Rockies to the arid west might make more sense than riderless high-speed Trains to Nowhere.)

The coverage of these floods in the mainstream media — and especially on TV, which LOVES footage of stop signs and other incongruous objects looming up out of what appear to be displaced alpine lakes — concentrates on the human costs, urging empathy with the suffering of those forced to abandon their homes, sculling away in an old rowboat with only their most important electronic gadgets and (if remembered in time) the family hound.

Fine. Of course such human-interest stories should not be ignored. The problem with stopping the discussion there, though, is that I suspect 90 percent of the viewing public, asked “What should be done?” would dutifully reply “The Corps of Engineers should build more dams, dikes and levees to keep the rivers in their channels.”

Leaving aside the long-term fruitlessness of, say, trying to keep the Mississippi from going to where it wants to go (Morgan City, since you ask), something is obviously missing in this coverage.

Where’s the guy or gal with some historical perspective to ask “Why do you suppose people live in this floodplain, in the first place? Why have they built their towns here? Has it occurred to you the major industry in most of these areas is agriculture, and that — if you want nutritious produce — this routine flooding is not only no surprise, but actually a good thing?”

Civilization developed in the Nile and Tigris and Euphrates valleys because annual floods inundated the lands with fresh silt, which fertilized the soil and allowed farmers to grow huge surpluses of nutritious produce, which allowed for the specialization of labor. (It also allowed taxation and the development of a ruling class claiming divine powers, a stage we can hopefully grow out of, soon.)

But to the extent we eliminate natural fertilization of these lowlands by regular inundation, commercial farmers tend to substitute chemical fertilizers lacking many vitamins and trace minerals, and our food — even if bulbous and pretty — becomes progressively less healthful.

“A better solution than ‘taming the rivers,’” such an expert might suggest, “and especially a better solution than tax-subsidized ‘flood relief’ to rebuild these settlements exactly where they were, might be to encourage farmers to build their permanent homes and even their market towns clustered on higher ground, so the natural flooding of the rivers can be welcomed without so much distress.”

How come we never hear that viewpoint on TV?

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The Garden Club had a rummage sale last weekend. When we arrived, we were handed handy color-coded cards to help us figure out the pricing. Big plastic pots with red stickers were a dollar; the prices of things bearing blue or yellow tags could be decoded just as easily.

We are not merely “at risk” for inflation. The inflation of the money supply has already been accomplished, in a (probably vain) effort to bail out mal-invested megabanks that otherwise would have faced some serious problems with their “reserve requirements.”

Ironically, as the economy “gets better,” that money will start to move, and this inflation already purposely created by Washington will start to send prices through the roof. As that happens, watch for this “priced by color code” approach to become far more common, eliminating the need for the staff to stay after hours every week to re-price every item in the store.

Instead, the “red tag” items that cost $19.95 last week can easily be repriced to $24.95 this week, and $29.95 next week, without churning out thousands of new individual price tags, simply by changing the master “color code identifier” on the wall.

In fact, since most retail establishments are now “online,” there’s no reason said list couldn’t be an electronic readout, specifying that a “red tag” item now costs, say, one ounce of silver, or 1/40th of an ounce of gold, with such prices updated electronically every day or even every hour, shifting as the commodity prices shift against each other.

This would eventually allow us to bypass the cumbersome and increasingly worthless “dollar” altogether.

Of course, since people have always sought an alternative to carrying around weighty leather purses full of jangling gold and silver coins, anyone could start issuing paper notes readily exchangeable for ounces of gold and silver on demand. Heck, we could even carry plastic debit cards that would delete, say, 1.39 ounces of silver from our accounts when making what we would previously have called “a 50-dollar purchase.”

There are only two obstacles to public acceptance of such an arrangement:

1) “Fractional reserve” banking would have to be outlawed as fraud in regards to the issuance of such “certificates of deposit,” and

2) as soon as they threaten to gain any wide acceptance, the federal government now actually treats such helpful “honest money” systems as criminal! Witness the recent criminal prosecution of Bernard von NotHaus for minting his “Liberty Dollar” one-ounce silver coins.

I was always somewhat doubtful of the “multi-level” aspects of Mr. von NotHaus’ business, in which he tried to establish a “face value” considerably higher than melt value for his coins, allowing a profit for those who agreed to operate his “redemption centers.” I make no plea for the ethicality of THAT aspect of his business (though, as a mere non-lawyer, I don’t see the problem so long as everyone was informed of what was going on. Lots of perfectly legal multi-level operations continue in this country, with buyers understanding part of the price they pay flows to earlier members “up-line.”)

But that’s not what they prosecuted him for, anyway.

I myself am perfectly willing to accept “Liberty Dollars” in private barter at current melt value for an ounce of silver, and welcome the fact that no one can force me to accept them for more than I consider them to be worth — unlike paper “Federal Reserve Notes” backed by nothing.

But the idea that the government would prosecute this fellow (and seize millions of dollars worth of gold and silver he legally owned!) for the “offense” of circulating one-ounce silver rounds worth more (not less) than any generally circulating coin THEY mint, is appalling, just as appalling as the fact that I can no longer bypass the government’s purposely created inflation by entering into a contract — agreeable to both parties — to lease real property for a monthly rent of “one ounce of gold.”

Given what our “dollars” will soon be worth, they should have given this character an award, saying, “Thank you, Mr. NotHaus, for providing Americans a more solid currency and store of value than our increasingly worthless paper Monopoly money.”

What do they expect us to use for barter when the once-proud American dollar finally resembles something of out Zimbabwe or the Weimar Republic? Cowrie shells?

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