Thursday, November 19, 2009

W.H. "Coin" Harvey
A Little Bit On W.H. Harvey

Coin's Financial School
In my recent discussion with Keith Hansen on his Think Or Be Eaten Program [LINK] I mentioned the impact of the "Coin's Financial School" pamphlet published in 1894. This work by W.H. Harvey ( born in Buffalo, West Virginia 16 August 1851 – died 11 February 1936 Monte Ne, Arkansas) extolled the beauties of bimetallism and its beneficial effects for the average working person, while criticizing the gold standard proponents.
It was published more than twenty years too late.
Unfortunately, bimetallism had been just about left for dead by 1894. The official placement of the tombstone over the corpse of Silver would finally occur in 1900 with the Gold Standard Act.
But this pamphlet is an interesting read, put in the form of a young lecturer addressing classes consisting of various familiar and famous characters of the late 19th Century on bimetallism and the monetary system. "Coin" Harvey, as he came to be known, made his reputation and a fortune with this pamphlet. His experiences as a Chicago lawyer and running the Silver Bell Mine in Colorado informed his approach to the subject.

Snake Oil And Politics
He also became a classic snake oil salesman, marketing his own patent medicine called, appropriately enough, "The Elixir of Life" to supplement his income once the price of silver began to fall in response to legislation designed to demonetize the metal.
He was associated with William Jennings Bryan's 1896 Presidential campaign. He may not have been an asset to that campaign. See this link: "Threatened to Mob 'Coin', W.H. Harvey Calls Gens. Sickles and Alger "Old Wrecks." New York Times, October 6, 1896 article [LINK]

Get Your Kicks At The Lost City Of Monte Ne
He established a health spa in Monte Ne, Arkansas. Harvey imported a large gondola from Venice to  transport visitors from the station of his private railroad spur across the lake to the resort. An enclosed lagoon for swimming was a popular feature. He also built the first golf course in Arkansas.
He founded the "Ozark Trails Association" which promoted the construction of a road system from Missouri to New Mexico. The highway known today as Route 66 is the direct result of Harvey's plan. Harvey hoped to increase traffic to Monte Ne from the West. His association erected several obelisks to mark the fledgling road.
At the end of his life he obsessed on the coming "end of the world", hallucinating, or more accurately, projecting, as so many do confronting their own mortality, that the signs of his own demise, combined with such hardships as experiencing the untimely death of a son, divorce, financial distress, the rejection of his monetary ideas, and the advent of the Great Depression (perhaps perceived as a result of that failure of acceptance) must herald a General and Universal End.
I call it the "How can this world go on without me?" effect.
Harvey's planned 130 foot "pyramid" or, more accurately, an obelisk. Harvey's bankruptcy delayed and his death finally ended the project.

He began to erect a giant obelisk in Monte Ne, "The Pyramid" that would contain a time capsule to memorialize civilization at its height, as he saw it, before its final destruction. He died before completing the task. Monte Ne was flooded by the waters of Beaver Lake after a dam was built in the 1960's.

"Beautiful Monte Ne, God's gift to man they say
Health resort of all the world is beautiful Monte Ne
Rosy cheeks and purer blood they gain there day by day
in mountain air water rare at beautiful Monte Ne"
-from "Beautiful Monte Ne" by Edward Wolfe, a theme song for the resort commissioned by W.H. Harvey, copyright 1906

President Harvey?
He ran for President in 1932 under the banner of his own Liberty Party, which held its convention at Monte Ne. He lost.


"Coin's" Pamphlet is available here at the Internet Archive:

Here is an overview of Harvey's time in Monte Ne from the Rogers Museum:
"Buried Dreams: 'Coin' Harvey and Monte Ne" [LINK]

More on the "lost resort" of Monte Ne: [LINK]
The Young W. H. "Coin" Harvey
My post on bimetallism from last week. [LINK]

Quote of the Day

"Money breeds insensitiveness."- Aldous Huxley

Post Script (Speculation, Rag Time, Shooting Off At The Mouth, etc.):
Do I think bimetallism is a solution for our monetary problems today? Probably not, although I haven't looked at the possibilities seriously. There is just too much of a need for large quantities of a medium of exchange in a world of 6 billion souls to rely on metal. However, the leap from bimetallism to the gold standard in the United States was no solution for anything at the time. The only parties who benefited were those bent on imposing a world wide monetary system using the gold standard to centralize power and as a transitional means to actually devalue real circulating currency to the point where we now have a purely symbolic fiat currency, a kind of magical script, totally in the control of the financial elites, beyond the purview and notice of the (to use a Marxist term) masses.

I do believe that any solution to the problems of the monetary system as it now exists must include the removal of the private banks from the process of the creation of the means of exchange. It may be most efficient that the government directly issue fiat money retaining a portion via a set formula for operating expenses in lieu of tax collection. This would free up vast human energy from the tasks of collecting, paying, and avoiding taxes; and lobbying government for favors in the tax code. Some form of metallic, or other valuable (goods or services) conversion of the currency under law may add stability to such a system.

Who Is Harming The People?

Yes, I distrust the government. But I distrust the government inasmuch as it has come to represent what I distrust even more, those private institutions of power such as the banks, the corporations, and the foundations that extremely wealthy people have at their disposal, and in which the people have no significant vested interest or direct means of control. The privileged, predominantly hereditary minority behind these entities has seized de facto control of the government via the anonymity they receive hidden within, and the responsibility deflecting character of, these legal fictions in which they have pooled and aggrandized the power of their wealth. The government, as shabby and impotent as it has become, is the only potential tool the people have to protect themselves from the anarchic rapaciousness of these institutions, save direct action via Revolution.
If you doubt this just ponder on a government that pours trillions of dollars of taxpayer obligations into saving the financial institutions of these plutocrats while unemployment surges because of the uncontrolled exportation of jobs and the real economy shrivels as the demand for skilled, higher paid labor disappears, all as a result of the greedy machinations of these same coddled respected men. A democratic government has at least a gossamer thread connecting it to the people's control. One good thing about hard times is that they do promote interest and concern among the people about the doings of a government gone very bad. There has been such a vast flood of programming and propaganda inflicted on the people by the corporate controlled mass media over the generations it is by now doubtful that enough of our citizens can overcome their implanted beliefs that all is as it should be; we may now be past the point of no return.

All public institutions may have to collapse before they can be renovated or replaced by the people whom they have nominally represented .

The collapse of any huge privately held institution should be welcomed as a boon to human freedom, not feared as an economic threat.

To paraphrase Baudelaire's anecdote about the devil, the greatest trick of these conspiracies of the powerful is to convince you they don't exist.

Elle ne se plaignit en aucune façon de la mauvaise réputation dont elle jouit dans toutes les parties du monde, m'assura qu'elle était, elle-même, la personne la plus intéressée à la destruction de la superstition, et m'avoua qu'elle n'avait eu peur, relativement à son propre pouvoir, qu'une seule fois, c'était le jour où elle avait entendu un prédicateur, plus subtil que ses confrères, s'écrier en chaire:
«Mes chers frères, n'oubliez jamais, quand vous entendrez vanter le progrès des lumières, que la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas!»

He did not complain in any way about the bad reputation he enjoyed all over the world, assured me that he himself was the person the most interested in the destruction of superstition, and admitted to me that he had only been afraid for his own power one time, and that was the day when he had heard a preacher, more subtle than his colleagues, shout out from the pulpit:
"My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the devil's best trick is to persuade you that he doesn't exist!"
"Le Joueur généreux," pub. February 7, 1864; translation by Cat Nilan, 1999 [LINK]

And here is a contemporary example of the tale:

He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Söze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. One story the guys told me — the story I believe — was from his days in Turkey. There was a petty gang of Hungarians that wanted their own mob. They realized that to be in power you didn't need guns or money or even numbers. You just needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn't. After a while they come to power, and then they come after Söze.
-Verbal Kint on Keyser Söze, "The Usual Suspects" screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie

But if you begin to suspect that these evil forces do exist they will immediately try to convince you that they are on your side.

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