Saturday, March 29, 2008

inspector in oz

Crow here. Ahh, back on the branch and ready to relate recent discoveries. There were a few close calls but I still have enough quills in my quiver to jot down a few notes and maybe give you a couple of surprises. Most of the following comes from a book called 'Web of Debt" by Ellen Hodgson Brown. Crows are smart but not known for economic literacy.

You've all heard of 'The Wizard of Oz'. Now I've never read it, since having eyes on the sides of my head doesn't make reading easy, but I have seen the movie. What I learned this week is that L. Frank Baum wrote the book as a parable of Populism and an economic allegory way back in 1900:

"The Wizard of Oz" . . . was written at a time when American society was consumed by the debate over the "financial question," that is, the creation and circulation of money. . . . The characters of "The Wizard of Oz" represented those deeply involved in the debate: the Scarecrow as the farmers, the Tin Woodman as the industrial workers, the Lion as silver advocate William Jennings Bryan and Dorothy as the archetypal American girl.

"The 1890s were plagued by an economic depression that was nearly as severe as the Great Depression of the 1930s. The farmers lived like serfs to the bankers, having mortgaged their farms, their equipment, and sometimes even the seeds they needed for planting. They were charged so much by a railroad cartel for shipping their products to market that they could have more costs and debts than profits. The farmers were as ignorant as the Scarecrow of banking policies; while in the cities, unemployed factory workers were as frozen as the Tin Woodman from the lack of a free-flowing supply of money to "oil" the wheels of industry. In the early 1890s, unemployment had reached 20 percent. The crime rate soared, families were torn apart, racial tensions boiled. The nation was in chaos. Radical party politics thrived.

"In every presidential election between 1872 and 1896, there was a third national party running on a platform of financial reform. Typically organized under the auspices of labor or farmer organizations, these were parties of the people rather than the banks. They advocated expanding the national currency to meet the needs of trade, reform of the banking system, and democratic control of the financial system."

Does this sound similar to the problems current in our time? It just goes to show that the international bankers managed to find (fund?) deep cover for themselves in the past hundred years but they're still very much here.

The Yellow Brick Road represented the gold standard which was a severely restricted commodity held by the international banks. The gold standard was what was used by them to keep money in short supply. The Populists preferred the idea of a silver standard since that metal was much easier to obtain and in the book Dorothy's shoes were silver (ruby was for the first movie in color). The Emerald City was green because it related to green paper money shackled to the gold standard. Overall, what the Populists wanted was that the government take back the right to issue the country's money supply. Nowadays only the coins we carry are public currency. The dollar bills, bank balances, and credit debt are all created by private banks writing in figures on their screens or in their ledgers. Every time a new loan is issued what they do is add a number to your account. The money doesn't come from anywhere else nor is it backed by anything visible in the real world. This is true everywhere.

Being a birdbrain means that although I'm quite capable of counting the eggs in my nest and knowing when one's missing, it's difficult to keep a count of everyone else's eggs and sparkly bits. I will keep up the investigations on your behalf as well as my own.

17 comments:

  1. We are living in a scary time. The financial companies have a grip on everyone including the government.

    Those third parties drove change - I don't think we have third parties that capable of leading change in thought and ideas.

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  2. Creditors also know that incomes haven't risen at the same rate as inflation. Not at all for some people. Meaning that to live at the same level, people have to borrow more. The many wind up owing much to the few, but not quite in the same way that Churchill meant.

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  3. What a great post. I never realized the allegory(?) behind the Wizard of Oz.

    I helped our oldest daughter study this era for a history test and was reminded of the cyclical nature of these abuses due to deregulation.

    Carry on crow, carry on!

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  4. I always thought money was an allegory for the Wizard of Oz. All my life I had it backwards.
    I hate paying taxes to the Wicked Witch, and I am lucky to get Toto from the bank as interest on my money.
    Fun post, Susan.

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  5. I always liked Crows.

    Resourceful little Bastards, and Smart Too.

    The Ballerina's favorite story was the "Wizard of Oz," but not because of its socio-economic message, she kind of lives in a fantasy world.

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  6. mathman - You're right about the scary time and one of the most troublesome aspects is that large corporations could be better compared to a cancer than any kind of rational entity. Capitalism exists for the sake of expansion and not development.

    I don't a strong Populist Party emerging in the near future but I've been wrong before and would welcome being wrong about that.

    ben - There has been no essential regulation of the banking industry since the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act of 1933. Per Wiki:

    On November 12, 1999, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. One of the effects of the repeal is it allowed commercial & investment banks to consolidate. Several economists and analysts have criticized the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act as contributing to the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.

    and yes, that's Phil Gramm who will be McCain's Secretary of the Treasury should he win the election.

    dcup - I'd never heard the true story of Oz either until the Inspector showed it to me. Apparently, it was something much more clear to earlier generations.

    sera - I hate paying taxes to her too. A quote from the intro of Web of Debt: 'The federal income tax was instituted specifically to coerce taxpayers to pay the interest due to the banks on the federal debt. If the money supply had been created by the government rather than borrowed from banks that created it, the income tax would have been unnecessary.' Interesting, no?

    fairlane - Crows are smart and a little bad tempered too which is just another thing to like about them.

    Ballerinas have to be flighty or they'd never get off the ground. It's a package deal.

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  7. I did a post awhile back about The Gilded Age (er, this time in history), so I have the same concerns about this all sounding familiar. I had read that about the Wizard of Oz, but I enjoyed this very succinct reminder of the specific points. Nice.

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  8. Hello, Susan.
    I like that crow.

    I had never heard that about the Wizard of Oz.
    I'm thinking that I like it a lot better now.

    Thanks.

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  9. Great post! I fear a return to the Gilded Age of the very rich and very few and the very poor and very many, with little in between.

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  10. scarlet - I went back and reread your post about the 'Gilded Age' and you definitely hit some of the main points about what regular people were left with once the Mrs Astors had taken what they wanted. I remember taking a tour of 'the Breakers' her summer home in Newport and being sickened by the waste of opulence and elegance on such a miserable creature. We're talking feudalism in what was supposed to be a Populist utopia - as per Lincoln, Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

    pt - It was a new story for me too and brought some real appreciation for L. Frank Baum. He did much the same thing as Lewis Carrol did in satirizing the Victorians with 'Alice'.

    cdp - I fear it too and can only hope that discussing these things can provide an answer or two.

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  11. Shit, do I seriously have to save my dimes now?
    Good article, enjoyed reading it.
    But where - where is this all going to end. Down the Yellow Brick Road?

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  12. And they'll be here in a hundred more, cooking up more deviousness. At least some things never change, muah.

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  13. Susan, what a fascinating and scary post. We rarely ever hear of the economic depressions of the 19th century because this was also a time in our country's history of the great expansion to the West. Back then there was open (stolen) land to be farmed, drilled and sawed down. We had resources the world could use. And I think what makes our situation different now. We live in a world populated by over 6 billion people competing for very finite resources. Clearly, we need a different economic model where development and conservation are the goal and not necessarily expansion.

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  14. zee - Right at the moment it appears to be Shit Creek. The Yellow Brick Road was always the wrong track but the Munchkins never understood what Dorothy learned. Perhaps we will.

    randal - Crow's been telling me about massive deforestation, water shortages and pollution that are devastating his kind as well all others including us. Maybe there won't be another 100. Maybe it's just as well we keep talking and maybe one day there'll be understanding at all levels that greed is not the answer in a limited ecosystem.

    spartacus - I agree it's scary and all the more important for that. There have to be other possibilities now that all 'free' land is gone and so much more has been stripped or poisoned.

    I'm reminded of Chief Seattle's letter to the American government in the 1800's - part of which says:

    This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

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  15. zee - Right at the moment it appears to be Shit Creek. The Yellow Brick Road was always the wrong track but the Munchkins never understood what Dorothy learned. Perhaps we will.

    randal - Crow's been telling me about massive deforestation, water shortages and pollution that are devastating his kind as well all others including us. Maybe there won't be another 100. Maybe it's just as well we keep talking and maybe one day there'll be understanding at all levels that greed is not the answer in a limited ecosystem.

    spartacus - I agree it's scary and all the more important for that. There have to be other possibilities now that all 'free' land is gone and so much more has been stripped or poisoned.

    I'm reminded of Chief Seattle's letter to the American government in the 1800's - part of which says:

    This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

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  16. Well, I gues a strong banking system is the backbone of a strong society. Whaat? You say our banks are in trouble too??? I'm melltting. I'm melting.

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