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June 18, 2010 at 1:57 PM

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Unbalanced on the Right

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Believers on the hard right are often associated with “hard money,” meaning currency backed by, or consisting of, gold, silver or some other commodity to anchor the dollar’s value. But there is another line of monetary belief: the greenbackers. In the 1870s and 1880s, the greenbackers campaigned for the Treasury to print unbacked paper dollars called United States Notes. These people were considered leftists. Today they have a few descendants on the extreme right.

Rep. Jack Metcalf, who represented the 2nd District 1995-2001, was one of them. Now there is another, a no-hope candidate for Republican Rep. Dave Reichert’s 8th District seat named Ernest Huber.

I found out about Huber when he answered our query about an endorsement interview. He replied, “I’m not seeking your endorsement.” He says on his web page that he doesn’t want any contributions, and he doesn’t’ want to be interviewed by any of us in the drive-by media.

Huber, a retired military man, has put his beliefs on line, and you can read them on his site. The one that stood out to me was his statement that the federal government, after being slimmed down to its proper size (still including the military, veterans’ benefits and benefits to current Social Security recipients) could be supported by printing money. He writes:

We must return to the practice of funding essential government operations by the Treasury prudently printing and issuing our own debt-free, interest-free money. Taxes will be unnecessary, but necessary programs will still be paid for.

How can people believe stuff like this? The last time the federal government paid for itself mainly by printing money was during the Revolutionary War. The Continental Congress had no taxing power and had to pay for George Washington’s army by printing "Continentals." It ruined the currency. It was the genesis of the phrase, "Not worth a Continental." Ninety years later the Confederacy wrecked the Confederate dollar the same way. Even Abe Lincoln had printed up $250 million in United States Notes—the original greenbacks—and started a serious inflation in the North. You can see the figures here.

Back to Huber. He writes:

A money supply that we print for free, and regulate, to pay for our interest-free and fairly valued costs of government operations under a balanced budget can never cause debt or inflation, if indexed to productivity. It will result in no taxation.

One question: When you get the money you spend by printing it, what is the meaning of “balanced budget?”

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