One for the weekend: The Private Supply of Money, with George Selgin

This excellent 2009 lecture on the private production and supply of money is presented by Professor George A. Selgin, author of Good Money (which is sub-titled Birmingham Button Makers, the Royal Mint, and the Beginnings of Modern Coinage, 1775-1821).

The lecture covers the history of private coinage in Britain during the industrial revolution — which was integral to its development — and shows that private money is not some weird idea beamed into our minds by mischievous aliens, but a former successful product forced into retirement, in 1821, by the British state to enable its greater economic control over the rest of us and to protect the typically shambolic inefficiencies of its own Royal Mint; this follows the pattern in which the British state took privately-owned turnpike roads into government control, in the 19th century, which has led to most people in this country finding it inconceivable that either money or roads could ever have been anything other than government inventions, or could ever be anything other than government monopolies under state ownership and control.

We can of course re-introduce honest private money (and decent private roads) into our society at any time of our choosing, so long as we can get the grubby self-serving manipulative state out of the way first.

Professor Selgin explains how private money was taken from us in the first place, to help us understand how we could so easily reverse this process, given the willpower to escape from the thralldom of government.

4 Comments

  • Dave Doctor says:

    Add the many New York subway companies to the list of private firms put of business by government regulations and then taken over by the government. I believe subway fares were capped at 15 cents, an amount insufficient to cover costs. Then the government took over and raised the cap.

    We need to rollback government’s takeover of money, roads, subways, and every other area of the economy, and we need to guard against takeovers of new areas. In 50 years, many people in the United States might be surprised to learn healthcare used to provided by many providers, not just the monopoly government institution.

    I want to spent private money to buy a ticket on a private subway to get to a private hospital.

    • Ron Helwig says:

      I decided a while ago that I can’t fix everything, so I’m going to concentrate on just one issue. Of the two I believe are the most important, I settled on the money issue (the other being education).

      After years of thinking and learning and some practice, much with the Liberty Dollar, I think I have a good solution for at least physical transactions. My Shire Silver cards are essentially a better bullion. They fit in wallets and come in amounts that are more practical for everyday trade. (Smaller amounts in coin, bar, or round form would be so small they’d be easily lost and hard to manipulate.)

      I like to suggest to people that they focus on one issue, or even just one aspect of an issue. We can build up private, free market based solutions and institutions to replace the statist ones.

      I also say that we should have our systems ready before the statist ones collapse. We want to fill the void before people start clamoring for a dictator to “fix” things.

  • Can I suggest you provide transcripts of lectures? Some of us can read at literally ten times the speed that lecturers deliver their stuff. Plus when reading material, it is very easy to go back over paragraphs one has not understood. Personally I just don’t have time for lectures.

    • Andy Duncan Andy Duncan says:

      If you want to supply transcripts Ralph, then I’ll be happy to put them up for everyone else.

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