Book Review

We Hold These Truths – The Hope of Monetary Reform

By Richard C Cook Tendril Press, 2009 $19.95

This new book is an edited collection of articles by the author, published on websites in the last two years, on the causes of the developing ‘credit crunch’ and its implications for the future. As such, there is inevitably a certain amount of repetition, but this is not a serious issue. Each article covers a different aspect of his subject.

The articles are aimed at an American audience, and are concerned with the central role of the US in the growing crisis, but should also be of interest to a much wider readership.

Cook has a background of service in the US administration, including as a government analyst in the Treasury Department, from which he retired in January 2007; this has given him a valuable ‘insider’s view’ of the economy, but his interest in the money system was started with his reading in 1979-80 of articles on Social Credit, the movement based on the ideas of Maj. C H Douglas, published in the 1920s in the New Age, by its editor, A R Orage.

This convinced him of the basic flaw in the money system, of a chronic shortage of purchasing power ‘compensated’ by mushrooming levels of debt and eased by price-inflation (which reduces the real value of outstanding debts), leading to the multiple problems now climaxing. To remedy this, he identifies the need for National Dividends/Basic Incomes to distribute to everyone entitlement to the abundance now potentially available (and so, giving them economic security) along with price-subsidies, funded with new money.

He has since studied extensively on the history of money, and argues that our present system has grown in part to finance the economic growth of the industrial revolution, but also to finance wars – in ways that vastly increased the wealth and power of the money-creators: the bankers and financiers, at the expense of the productive economy.

He argues that the creation of the ‘public credit’ should be by government, on behalf of society, not by private banks. History shows that the alternating booms and depressions result from the actions of the banks, largely controlled by the (private) ‘Federal Reserve’, and, whether deliberately engineered, serve to enrich banks through both interest charges and the acquisition of collateral in cases of default on repayment of loans.

Reference is made to the many sections of the US Constitution which are breached by the modern money system. These are generally relevant to other countries as well, since they are statements of universal rights, obligations and freedoms. He also makes references to God; I find this objectionable – they refer to common, universal issues of ethics, empathy and morality, which do not require any belief in a God.

Cook challenges the idea of scarcity, pointing out the power of modern production, though he does not specifically note the obscene wastefulness of modern ‘planned obsolescence’, with its fast-changing fashions, short-life goods and massive resources devoted to persuasive advertising – not to mention the destructive waste involved in ‘defence’ and warfare.

A valuable addition to the literature on the current ‘hot topic’, especially but not only for American readers.

Brian Leslie