Category Archives: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Is the US facing the same problems as Third Century Rome?

The world, but particularly the US, is entering a period of great uncertainty, as did Rome in the third century AD. There were external threats and internal instability. Inflation was destroying the internal fabric. The coinage was diluted of its precious metals, silver and gold. People lost faith in its institutions, its army and its emperors. Through such inflation, the people were getting poorer. The longevity of its emperors was very short after the assassination of the Emperor Alexander Severus in 235 AD  The Empire fragmented and was in danger of collapsing. Two external threats were ever present: the Tribes of Northern and Eastern Europe were pressing on the Empire and in the East, there were Persian threats. Three emperors lost wars with Persia, and one, Emperor Valerian, was even captured by the Persians in 260 AD through a ruse.

The 42nd Emperor Claudius Gothicus, (268-270), stabilized the frontiers by defeating the Alemani and the Goths, but unfortunately, died of some kind of infection.  The 51st Emperor Deocletian, (284-305), further strengthened the Empire by reducing inflation, further stabilizing the frontiers, and introducing tetrarchy to government. Tetrarchy is four person rule.  Deoclitian split the administration into a Western Empire centered in Rome, and an Eastern Empire centered in the future city of Constantinople to be founded by Emperor Constantine the Great in 330 AD. When the Western Empire fell in 476 AD, the Eastern Empire or Byzantine Empire lasted for almost one thousand years until Contantinople fell to the Turks in 1453.

Is the US in a similar situation? Possibly?  The US has been in decline since President Nixon defaulted on the gold obligation of 35 dollars for one ounce of gold. Nixon proclaimed it would be temporary, but almost 50 years later is still going. As a result inflation became rampant, Congress became generous and passed the law that allowed Americans to own gold again. President Roosevelt and Congress banned ownership of gold except in jewelry in 1933.

Economic conditions were deteriorating slowly. Inflation in the seventies, Reaganomics in the eighties, Clintonomics in the nineties, subprime mortgages and the tech bubble in the first decade of the new millennium and a severe bust in 2007-09 that nearly collapsed the entire system. Throughout this period, living standards for Americans were going down. The main culprits were debt, public and private, quality job losses, inflation, lack of affordable universal health care, expensive education, and foreign military interventions.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, the three pillars of paper, all based on debt, are keeping this system afloat, but just barely, and they are the dollar, the stock market, and the bond market. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury are keeping the system going by shunting new money into stocks and bonds creating conditions for a financial shock that is becoming inevitable. Zero interest rates and quantitative easing are propping up the system, but not curing it; it cannot be cured.

One could call the US economy a “mirage” because there has been no actual growth since the late 1960’s. The living standards of the people have been going down and down, but the lies and deceptions have been going up. One does not know whom to believe. In socio-economic terms, three economic classes have developed in the US: the owner class of 1%, the overseer class of 4-5%, and the Precariat class of around 95%. The Precariat Class is composed of all ethnic groups, religions, and races, but it is kept divided by the Ownership Class for its own interests. The Precariat is on the whole totally dispossessed, and they live from pay cheque to pay cheque, with the loan sharking firms eating them in between.

The present recovery after the almost system collapse 0f 2007-8, has been nothing but “a mirage”, a statistical “recovery” propped by a series of quantitative easings and zero interest rates. The ownership class and the overseer class are doing extremely well, but the precariat class is barely surviving.

In foreign policy, the US, a hegemonic power, has become a reactionary force in order to maintain its world wide empire based on dollar indebtedness and exploitation of the rest of the world. Through its policy in the Middle East, it has lost Iran and now may lose Turkey, two large countries dominating the key strategic areas of the Afro-Eurasia. It is true, the US has gained  eastern Europe through the European Union and NATO, but Europe itself has become unstable.

In the Middle East, some claim that the US and Israel have created ISIS and Al-Qaeda  to destroy Syria and Iraq in order to get to Iran, and take total control of the Middle East and its natural resources. If Turkey switches to Eurasia, and a compromise is reached between Syria and Turkey, the US will lose the Middle East. The next shoe to drop will be Saudi Arabia because of its disastrous war in Yemen, as well as internal dissension.

Never before in its history has the US faced such complex problems as a dying economy  reflected in dying cities, dilapidated infrastructure, poor but costly education and health care; city violence could be a precursor to a general revolt.

The world is waiting with bated breath the results of the US presidential elections, The precariat class is flocking to Mr. Trump for salvation and the ownership class is in a panic. How the elections will turn out nobody knows, but if there is a financial collapse Trump would win massively. In that case, it is quite likely that martial law would be proclaimed and the elections postponed. Only time will tell.

How much is the dollar really worth?

The dollar is a fiat currency. It is created out of thin air through debt. A person goes to the bank and wants to borrow 10,000 dollars and if the borrower meets the criteria of paying back the sum plus interest agreed on, the bank issues a cheque of 10,000 dollars or direct deposits the amount to his account. Money has been created out of nothing to enslave that person for 10,000 dollars which he must now pay back at a certain interest rate for a specific period of time. In other words, he sells his labour, his life force, to pay the debt. He is exploited, he is a slave. This is the essence of capitalism, and the fiat currency is an instrument of enslavement.

Initially, the dollar was a gold backed currency as were other world currencies. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, early in his presidency devalued gold from 20.67 dollars an ounce to 35 dollars an ounce. Also, he made it illegal for Americans to own gold, unless it was in a jewelry form of 18 karats or less. The Bretton-Woods Convention made the dollar the Reserve Currency of the World. The US would keep the gold and the rest of the world would keep the dollars. Other central banks could exchange dollars for gold at 35 dollars an ounce. Gold, however, would be stored in the US and some would be stored in London. This arrangement was propped up by fear that “the Communists” would take over if the gold was not stored in the US. Publicity  made Fort Knox, Kentucky, infamous as the storage place  for the world’s non-communist gold. General Charles de Gaulle, President of France, was not fooled. He realized it was the perfect scam. He had never trusted the Anglo-Americans. He knew how perfidious they were during the Second World War II. The Anglo-Americans hated him, and of course, he reciprocated. He withdrew France from N.A.T.O. and sent French warships to retrieve French gold from the US. Other European countries followed. A run on gold followed…

The gold drain from the US followed. President Nixon closed the Gold window. This closure was permanent, contrary to the President’s statement that  it was temporary. The US was running trade deficits and the Vietnam War was draining the country of its real wealth, gold. The dollar paper drainage was no big deal, because it was only paper. The Arab oil embargo saved the dollar and the US. The US told the oil producers to increase the price of oil but just have it denominated in dollars. The excess dollars of the world poured into US treasuries and helped finance government operation. The decade of 1970’s showcased growth throughout the world but with inflation. Gold was allowed to reach its equilibrium value of 850 dollars an ounce. Silver, taken out of circulation in 1965, went to 50 dollars an ounce in 1979-80. Interest rates were high because demand for money was high. Demand for real money, gold and silver, was high. But the dollar was losing value. In 1969, one could get four Swiss Francs for one dollar, but in 1979-80 period, the Swiss Franc was on parity with the dollar.

President Carter appointed Paul Volcker Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. The Prime Rate went to almost twenty percent. The price of precious metals collapsed and value of the dollar rose. Money from all over the world poured into the US. By 1992, the USSR and communism had disappeared in Europe. The end of history was proclaimed. The plunder of the ex-USSR and Eastern Europe, along with the rest of the world began with increasing tempo. A unipolar world of ten years duration was achieved. In Nature, when one extreme is reached, opposite forces start building momentum, and new forces started brewing on the horizon…

Vladimir Putin was appointed Prime Minister of Russia in 2000, and the economic decay started in the first decade of the New Millennium in the West. It is now worsening and encompassing the entire world. The central player in all this has been the dollar. It has no intrinsic value like gold, land or water, but is the instrument of US power. The US wants to maintain that power come hell or high water, and in order to maintain it, debt in dollar terms has to grow. The IMF and World Bank, along with other private organizations, are working overtime to trap more and more countries into unsustainable debt and milk them for all they are worth. This is the MODUS OPERANDI of capitalism…

But opposing forces are rising, and the de-dollarization of the world has began. The World is trying to dis-infect itself from the dollar. Very interesting and dangerous times are approaching. But the US will not willingly give up its instrument of power. It is negotiating trade deals with Europe, South America, and South East Asia to insure the dollar to be the supreme currency. It is confronting China in the South China Sea, but at the same time, it is enticing  it to join the IMF arrangement of Special Drawing Right Currency. The US wants the China to row the dollar-SDR boat, and the US would steer it. Whether China falls for it or not remains to be seen. China, Russia, Brazil, Iran, and other countries that have backbone are trading amongst themselves in their own currencies. The river of history is flowing and it cannot be reversed.

How much is the dollar really worth? Nothing. It is merely an instrument of power, intimidation, and war, like aircraft carriers. And history will be unkind to both. Only time will tell.