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The Two Percent Loan

The Two Percent Loan image
Parent Issue
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The paper read before the Washtenaw Farmers' Association by George McDougal, of Superior, may be synopsized as follows: It is universally admitted that therc is at presenta crisis in agricultural industries. It has been tentatively held by the majority of political leaders that the welfare of our country depends upon the continual and watchful interference on the part of the government by means of restrictive taxes with the course which trade would otherwise take and that by such restrictions every trade and industry would be insured the largest possible returns from the labor and capital employed. The present crisis makes certain either the failure of restriction as a system or a faulty application of its princeples. It would seem by the tone of uthe resolutions emanating from the farmers' organization that the benefit of restriction upon trade is being discredited by the majority of farmers as it always has been during the past hundred years by men who have been students of the history and the science of production and exchange. But the people having been taught that it is the province of the government to crown every undertaking of its individual citizens with success, they look to the government for assistance in a scheme to relieve every distress. Speaking of the government two per cent, loan scheme, he said: "The demand is that the government establish sub-treasuries in the several states, which shall loan money direct to the people at a rate of interest not to exceed two per cent. How is the government to fill the sub-treasuries ? Governments have never been very successful producers of any interchangeable commodities. The only way for capital to find its way into the sub-treasuries is for the government to borrow at the market price and place it there; take it by force in taxes or issue its own promises in the shape of treasury notes and force their acceptance. I have no hesitation in saying that of the three methods, that by direct taxation on incomes and on accumulated capital would be far the best, but because the nature of the plan could be easily seen and understood there is no danger of its ever being put in operation. The same may be said of borrowing by the government and reloaning at a less rate. It would be readily seen that the strong hand of the government was reaching out and filling its treasuries frora. .the savings of the people for the "benefit of those who were in debt It should be constantly borne in mind that the government is not directly productive, is not self-supporting, but depends for its financial support upon the contributions in taxes of its individual subjects, and has nothing to bestow or lend except in the individual fortunes of its citizens. The plan of issuing legal tender notes and loaning them is therefore the favorite because the injustice and evil are not so plain. If the notes are redeemable and are kept at par by redemption on presentation, the amount issued would be so far restricted that there would be practically nothing to lend. If they were not redeemable and issued in large amounts their value would rapidly change for the worse. Of cour=e debtors would then be permitted to pay early in depreciated currency, but the transactions of trade would be plunged into a chaos of uncertainty. The sole benefit to any from a depreciated currency is to fortúnate speculators and debtors. As few ever waste sympathy upon speculators, it would be just as honest and a great deal better in other respects to leave the money of the country in a sound state and pass a law allowing all debtors to liquidate at perhaps 40 or 50 percent on the dollar, not that I advocate any such thing, but I say to any who hare any hankering after the sub-treasury scheme, that it would be a better policy and just as honest." He thought it was not in the province of the government to prevent a stringency in the money market. Speaking of the effect of such a bilí on agriculture, Mr. McDougall argued that a financial stringency is something beyond the province of the government to eradicate, it being no more its duty to do so than to prevent a scarcity of potatoes. Irregularity in production and consumption make it inevitable that trade should ebb and flow, and the stringency in the money markets is the result of and helps to regúlate these movements. In times when loanable capital is to be had on easy terms trade and production expand faster in many directions than the general economie condition will justify. The demand for money increases at such times and the price of loanable capital rises and checks speculation and brings those enterprises which have had an abnormal expansión, back within their relatively proper limits. Too much capital is invested in agriculture. Relief from such a condition comes far more slowly in farming than in manufacture and trade. The manufacturer and tradesman when confronted with this problem will understand that they must either find a wider market or reduce the volumn of their business. What folly to think of relieving the present congested state of agriculture by forcing more capital into it through the aid of the general government. It would simply aggravate the disorder and delay recovery.