Bill Still: Libertarian for President

Source: Conservative Heritage Times

This site is generally not libertarian, although we tend to be very friendly to Ron Paul, and we don’t necessarily follow Libertarian Party politics closely, but I decided to post this announcement by Bill Still because it highlights an important historical divide on the issue of money that many people may not be familiar with, but that seems to be arising again lately. Still’s candidacy is likely to bring it even more to the forefront.

Bill Still is a prominent “”Greenbacker.” Some people in that camp consider the term derogatory. Some embrace it. It is not my intention to be derogatory. We just need to call them something and Greenbacker works and has a historical context. If they would like to suggest another term, I’ll be glad to use it.

Still and other Greenbackers, like Austrian “Gold Bugs,” oppose the Federal Reserve and fractional reserve banking. Like Austrians they will often speak of money “created out of thin air.” Thus some do not recognize the distinction between the two. Their solutions are, however, very different. Greenbackers do not like the gold standard. They see the gold standard and the current system of fractional reserve/Federal Reserve “debt money” as both benefiting the powerful elite, especially bankers, at the expense of the people. What they would like is true “fiat money” issued by the Treasury, instead of “debt money” created by the Fed and banks through fractional reserve lending (often also called fiat money by Austrians). Some will recognize the historic connection to the populist movement of the late 19th century and the Greenback Party of that era.

Still is a prominent and notable Greenbacker because he is responsible for two widely viewed documentaries on the history of money and banking, The Money Masters (1996) and The Secret of Oz (2010). He has also written a book, No More National Debt, on the subject.

What remains to be seen is how well this will play in the Libertarian Party. It is likely to have some market, but that market is likely limited. First, Greenbackers suggest that printing money is a proper function of government so this will turn off the anarchists who don’t concede there is any proper function of government right off the bat. Also, some Greenbackers speak of spending this fiat money into the economy when expansion of the monetary supply is necessary in the form of public works and infrastructure projects. This will offend a broad swath of libertarians. Some Greenbackers even oppose private banking altogether. This too is hardly a libertarian policy.

On the other hand, Still might appeal to certain leftist libertarians. And Greenbackism is subversive enough (it really amounts to a big huge screw you to the bankers) that it may appeal to the contrarian element of some libertarians. May hunch is that if Still is to win he will have to bring large numbers of his people to the convention which is not inconceivable but no easy task either.

There has already been a vigorous discussion about Still’s candidacy at Independent Political Report, but unfortunately it primarily turned into a discussion of the merits of fractional reserve banking from an Austrian perspective, instead of a discussion of the merits of Greenbackism. I would like our readers thoughts on the money issue. Please post them below.

Addendum: I actually think Still and Greenbackism could have some appeal among the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Historically Greenbackers were associated with the left (to the degree left and right apply to pre-WWII politics which is arguably not much) and the populist impulse. But they became increasingly associated with the right since WWII give or take. Still could emphasize the “private” nature of the Fed, how the current system enriches bankers, the need to nationalize the money creating process, the need to “spend” said money into the economy, etc. and resonate quite well with some of the OWS crowd. Establishment leftists will of course be horrified by Still because of the fundamental nature of his critique, but many of the OWS protestors who at this point have nothing to lose, might welcome a fundamental and wholesale critique.

Related Articles:

October 21, 2011: Five Libertarian Presidential Candidates to Debate in Illinois on Saturday, October 22
October 14, 2011: Bill Still Announces Run for Libertarian Party Presidential Nomination

6 thoughts on “Bill Still: Libertarian for President

  1. Austin Battenberg

    I watched the Secret of Oz, and while I’m more on the Austrian side, I would welcome an alliance because we have the same goal of eliminating Fiat money and the Federal Reserve. After that we can have the great debate of a currency. Personally my opinion is that we allow competition, and we can have BOTH the nation Greenback currency, and personal hard back currencies. This competition will make both currencies strive to be the best market for the people, thus is the most libertarian solution.

    And as the article states, it is appealing to those on the left, and we need to stop only appealing to the right to really garner support.

  2. Humongous Fungus

    ” I would welcome an alliance because we have the same goal of eliminating Fiat money and the Federal Reserve”

    Greenbackers like Still want to get rid of the fed, but not fiat money. They support fiat money.

    I do not believe they support allowing competing currencies. If they do, my objection mostly disappears.

  3. RedPhillips

    I think an anti-Fed alliance between Greenbackers and Gold Bugs while agreeing to disagree about the solution would be useful, but I don’t see it happening. While I think there are a lot of anti-Fed people who don’t yet recognize the distinction, of those that do they are at each others throats like cats and dogs.

  4. Gene Berkman

    “…an anti-Fed alliance between Greenbackers and Gold Bugs…”

    How about an anti-Fed alliance between Greens and Gold Bugs. Right now the Fed makes paper money by killing trees. With current rates of inflation all the trees in North America are at risk.

    Returning to a hard money standard – gold & silver coins in circulation, could cut back on the need for paper. Save a tree, vote Libertarian!

  5. Mit Ailbu

    I really don’t care what the “official” currency is, as long as there is competition. Competing currencies are the only way to eliminate inflation.

    Money is nothing more than a reserve of value. I should be able to store the value of my property or production in any capacity I choose; gold, greenbacks, stocks, or dog poo, I should be able to choose what works best for me. Legal tender laws are the real problem.

    Screw the Fed. I don’t care if they are audited, abolished or left the hell alone. Just end legal tender laws and the market will decide for itself how to stabilize the economy.

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