Crashmaker: A Federal Affaire
A novel of love, death and the Federal Reserve
by Victor Sperandeo & Alvaro Almeida
I finally got around to buying Cra$hmaker after hearing Sperandeo give a lecture earlier this year at the Spring meeting of the Council for Monetary Research & Education (to which I was introduced by the most atypical mine promoter, Alex McDougall). It was a very powerful hard money homily from one of the world's best traders who featured in Market Wizards.
I've only read the first two dozen pages, but it is already impressive so the two volumes and 1,572 pages don't seem too daunting. The writing is good though not scintillating, but you're reading it for substance not style. Let's put it this way: Oprah is not going to be interviewing Sperandeo and the Booker Prize would rather dredge a sewer than even consider it. Good.
What's more, it only costs $44 plus a little more for delivery; you won't find it at your local bookstore. I have one irrelevant gripe. The pen drawing on the cover is a well executed concept that translates the content, but it was obviously based on a photograph of the Federal Reserve building rather than a first hand view. The result is the typrical distortion of perspective caused by a camera lens pointing up at a building. Correcting the perspective would have made it more effective. Now tell me that isn't utterly useless to Victor Sperandeo!
. . .
I finally found time to read more than 20 pages in one sitting of Crashmaker. It's still reading well. The style can be pedantic, even pretentious, but the pace is holding up and the characters are forming well. The problem is that it takes longer to read than an ordinary book because one can't avoid following the planted material that ties fiction to fact.
The allusions are obvious as the plot builds. A Fed chairman who "scuttled... [reason and autonomy] for the emoluments of power". A Fed chairman who once wrote about the virtues of a gold standard. A trader outraged by an unconstitutional central bank that has blind sided him for the last time.
I wonder what Ayn Rand would think of her mildly disguised cameo as one Naydine Darnell, "the contemporary philosopher and novelist whose heroes epitomized reason and autonomy."
For my money, I look at the what the personal life and character of the person reveals, nor their idealised projections. Otherwise we start excusing the bizarre personal lives of social engineers like Marx, Rousseau, Ibsen and Rand (Alisa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, actually) herself.
Anyway, back to the book. There's a brief skewering of President Roosevelt's several abridgements of the Constitution, notably his order to relieve citizens of their gold. Here's a copy of Presidential Executive Order 6102, from 5 April, 1933: "All persons are hereby required to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, to a Federal Reserve bank or a branch or agency thereof or to any member bank of the Federal Reserve System all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates now owned by them or coming into their ownership on or before April 28, 1933..."
There is an interesting exchange before this when two malevolent characters note the unceasing contradictions of US law-making. They compare Wickard v. Filburn with Cannibals All! Or, Slaves Without Masters and find the US Supreme Court in full agreement with a race baiter. The Wickard precedent of "It's due process for the government to regulate what it subsidizes" takes up from Fitzhugh's "Government presupposes that liberty must be surrendered as the price of security. It's society's duty to protect the weak. But protection's inefficient without control. Therefore it's society's duty to enslave the weak. Those who give handouts should dictate the recipient's conduct."
Excerpted from the introduction
In 1913, the States supposedly ratified the Sixteenth Amendment; and Congress created the Federal Reserve System. Perhaps not accidentally, and surely not surprisingly in that era, these were two of the measures for the "abolition of private property" that Marx and Engels had earlier prescribed in The Communist Manifesto: " a heavy and progressive or graduated income tax " , and "centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly" .Political propaganda of the Progressive Era broadcast that taxation of individuals' incomes would promote social equality by mulcting the rich. Few foresaw then (or are willing to admit now) that, rather th~ loosing America's working men and women from their "proletarian chains" (as Marx and Engels had prophesied), income taxation would reduce them to the Treasury's serfs. Propagandists of that day also promised that erection of a central bank would eliminate financial panics and depressions with an "elastic" currency. But, rather than guaranteeing financial security, the banking cartel would oversee the deepest depression in American history , and thereafter hold the entire economy hostage to the monetary policies of a series of unelected Chairmen of the Board of Governors-one of whom, as Crashmaker tells the tale, might turn out to be as hungry for power, personally corrupt, and heedless of consequences as any rotten politician America has ever been cursed to suffer .
In 1936, even while it recognized that "[t]he power to confer or withhold unlimited benefits is the power to coerce or destroy", the Supreme Court in United States v. Butler held that Congress might tax and spend for whatever politicians deemed to be "the general Welfare of the United States" -thereby effectively creating a constitutionally unrestrainable power to redistribute wealth from taxpayers to special-interest groups. Of course, this cornucopia came with thick strings attached. For, in 1942, the Court in Wickard v. Filbum ruled that" [i]t is hardly lack of due process for the Government to regulate that which it subsidizes"-once again validating Laocoon's warning to the Trojans, "quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et donaferentis".
Thus, within a scant three decades, the American political class's strategy of "Greeks bearing gifts" became (and ever since has remained) crystal clear: Commandeer the country's own resources against We the People-confiscating Americans' benefits for their supposed welfare, strictly controlling what the
subsidizes, and through it all inveigling more and more of society into a --- of subservience to and dependency on Washington and its satrapies in the States.
Contemporary politicians rationalize this scheme to tax, inflate, spend, elect, and control by claiming that it helps the poor. Were that honestly their aim, though, they would substitute for most of the government's anti-poverty programs something akin to Milton Friedman's "negative income tax" .They eschew this approach, because it is politically anonymous, electorally sterile, and especially deficient for exercising power over people. For after enactment of such a plan, no future politicians could take credit for the program's benefits, barter those benefits for votes, or regulate how the recipients spent the money they received. So, realistically, Crashmaker goes beyond Lord Acton's observation that all power tends to corrupt, to the conclusion that contemporary political power is nothing less than organized corruption in which government, business, and crime knowingly and intentionally merge-and not simply at the margins .
Predictably, therefore, America's mainstream intellectuals will revile Crashmaker as "paranoiac" and "extremist". This characterization will have some historical basis. For Crashmaker stands, without apology, upon the shoulders of the original and greatest of American political "paranoids " and "extremists": the Founding Fathers, for whom government was a dangerous instrument to be closely confined by natural law and moral strictures, legislatures were self-interested judges in their own case, and factions-what contemporary America knows as special-interest groups-were threats to the Republic's stability. The Founders would have denounced the modern-day Marxism of irredeemable, legal-tender paper currency emitted by a monopolistic banking cartel, and graduated individual income taxes, not only as "extreme", but even as impossible under the Constitution they designed to protect and preserve personal liberty and private property. Now, however, mainstream politicians and judges, as well as intellectuals, see nothing amiss in paper money and income taxes, while contending that to return to the Founders' Constitution is impossible. Crashmaker's theme, however, is that such a national renaissance is no less possible than it is desirable, necessary , and even urgent if America is to survive as the Founders intended and common Americans desire.
Mainstream intellectuals will also rail against the countercultural and iconoclastic manner in which Crashmaker treats contemporary politics, economics, law, morality, and social policy (even, some readers may note, typography). Their description will be accurate. For anything less would amount to acquiescence in the foibles, shortcomings, hypocrisy, double-talk, blunders, and crimes of a status quo on which History has already passed sentence, and for which time is running out.
And, of course, mainstream intellectuals will ridicule Crashmaker as an overlong and difficult book. In this, however, they will be not even half right. True, Crashmaker challenges the reader-in its themes, its characters, even its style and vocabulary .But by design. For any people capable of self-government deserves and demands something more substantial than politically sanitized intellectual pablum.
Resigned to the likelihood that mainstream opinionators will cavil at and calumniate Crashmaker, its authors nonetheless hope that it will stimulate strong minds to pinder the truths of America's experiment with individual freedom and limited government, and inspire brave hearts to carry that experiment forward to its fruition.