Merry Christmas!

Shepherd in mountains above Thermopylae, Greece.

I encountered this kid goat in the mountains above Thermopylae. The mother goat ran away but the kid had not yet found his legs. All it could do was bleat helplessly. The shepherd soon appeared, ambling up the road, carrying a wooden staff in his hand, and scooped the little goat up in his arms. It was a very nice picture of the good shepherd.

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs
with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are
with young. ~ Isaiah 40: 11

Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden, and
He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He
is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. ~ Matthew 11: 28-29

These two passages appear towards the beginning of Handel’s Messiah. They are followed by passages that speak of the coming Judgement. I was struck, in particular, by this passage from Malachi.

But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire. ~ Malachi 3:2

The good shepherd and the refiner’s fire… comfort and fear… may we keep both in mind this Christmas season.

Our Mephistophelian Money

“I will let the Conservatives explain why cuts and austerity — if they really think so — are going to help Canadians…” (Justin Trudeau)

(The second book of Goethe’s Faust begins in the Emperor’s Court. The Steward, Treasurer and Chancellor enter the king’s chamber, each bearing bad news.)

The Chancellor to the Emperor: …Look down from this high place, look far and wide
Over the empire: it must seem
A nightmare of deformity, a dream
Of monsters, law to lawless power unfurled,
And rooting error spread about the world.
One man steal flocks, and the next a wife,
A third the altar’s treasure:
And yet can boast himself scot-free
From pains of law to limb or life.
While plaintiffs throng the hall, and from
His sumptuous seat the judge looks down,
rebellion like a gathering storm
mutters and laps. Must justice drown
In these fierce waves? A miscreant
Protected by accomplices can vaunt
his crimes, while he whom only guiltlessness
Defends is pronounced guilty none the less.
And thus society falls to pieces,
Order and decency decay:
How shall men not be led astray
As the true guiding instinct stunts and ceases?
So in the end good men and true
Succumb to bribes and flatter,
And judges can impose no penalty,
For crime, but become criminals too.
I have painted a black picture, but I would
Draw blacker veils across it if I could…

(The steward laments that everything is now purchased on credit.)

The Steward: We buy tomorrow what we eat today,
We slaughter pigs while they’re still thin,
We pawn the very beds we’re sleeping in;
In fact we are living, Sire, on mortgaged bread.

The Devil (Mephistopheles) presents himself to the Emperor in the guise of a Fool. The people can see that there is something preternatural about the Fool.

Murmurs from the Crowd: This sly rogue knows-what he’s about
He’ll be well in – till he’s found out –
He’s up to something – I guess what –
What do you guess? – Some scheme he’s got –

Mephistopheles: Do we not all lack something, of one sort
Or another? Here it’s money that’s run short.
It does not grow on trees, that’s true, I fear;
But from the depths wisdom can bring it here.

There is gold in the earth, coined and uncoined,
Hoards hidden under the walls, rocks precious-veined:
This treasure’s for the wise man to collect,
By Nature’s power and human intellect.

Listen as Janet Yellen is introduced to Congress in 1997 – long before she was made chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. She then proceeds to explain why congress should not pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. (47:30) The nation chose to follow the counsel of Janet Yellen instead of that of Senator Lauch Faircloth. Faircloth served only a single term. He was unseated by John Edwards. The mayor of DC told him to go back to his pigs (he was a farmer before entering politics).

The Chancellor: Nature and Intellect, Who dares profess
Such dangerous heresy to Christian ears?
Atheists have been burnt for less
Nature is sin, the intellect’s ideas
Are Satan’s, and between them Doubt is bred,
The mongrel offspring of their monstrous bed.
Away with them! – The Emperor’s lands are old,
And here two native kindreds are alone
The worthy guardians of his throne:
The men of God, and all our bold
And valiant knights. Against the storms of fate
They are proof, and their reward is Church and State.
There are confused plebeian minds in whom
The spirit of revolt finds room:
Such men are heretics and sorcerers,
The empire’s ruined and the fault is theirs.
And you, fool, with your insolent arts,
Would smuggle them in here!
They are close kin
To fools, and quite depraved by sin.
We cannot trust such black corrupted hearts.

Only a recognition of the severity of the disequilibrium into which so many of the biggest economies of the world have fallen, and of the nature of the alchemy of our system of money and banking, will provide the courage to undertake bold reforms – the audacity of pessimism. (Mervyn King, Former Governor of the Bank of England)

Mephistopheles [to the Chancellor]: I recognize a learned man’s speech!
What your hands cannot touch, lies far beyond your reach
What your minds cannot grasp or calculate,
Does not exist for you; nothing has weight
If you have not first weighed it; and unless
A coin was struck by you, you think it valueless.

The Emperor [to the Chancellor]: None of this solves our problems; I can see
No point, sir, in your Lenten homily.
I’m sick of all this endless hem and hum.
We need more money: all right, get us some!

Trudeau explains how magic works.

The Chancellor: Satan lays golden snares to catch you all!
The whole thing’s impious and unnatural.

The Steward: If I could give the court a decent dinner,
I’d not mind all that much being a sinner.

The Army Commander: He’s a sound fool; he knows
what’s good for us.
As for his methods, soldiers mustn’t fuss.

Mephistopheles: Perhaps you do not trust me? I refer
You to this expert: as the Astrologer!
The heaven’s houses he can scan, he can peruse
Its hours; come, tell us the celestial news!

(The Astrologer and the Fool convince the emperor that they can find the money he needs to pay his bills.)

Murmurs from the Crowd: A pair of rogues – So near the throne –
Dreamer and fool – They speak as one –
The Wise Man – (here’s a tale we’ve heard!)
Talks, and the Fool – prompts every word –

Carolyn A. Wilkins (University of Western Ontario), Stephen S. Poloz (University of Western Ontario 1982); Lawrence L. Schembri; Timothy Lane (University of Western Ontario, 1983); Filipe Dinis; Lynn Patterson (University of Western Ontario); Not Shown: Toni Gravelle, (University of Western Ontario) (Source)

(The court celebrates carnival. Spirits attend the festivities. Plutus (Wealth) and The Boy Charioteer (Plenitude) arrive. They have assumed the place of Father and Son in the Trinity.)

The Herald [introducing Plutus]: Such dignity no words can praise.
A moon-shaped visage bright with health,
Beneath his jeweled turban’s wealth;
A rich commodious robe. What shall
I say of his demeanor? All
The world must know him as a king!

The Boy Charioteer [introducing Plutus]: Plutus, the god of riches (for
That is his name) in triumph here I bring;
He is badly needed by the Emperor….

Plutus [to the Boy Charioteer]: You are, as I will gladly testify,
Spirit of my spirit, acting ever as I
Would wish; your wealth exceeds my own.
Acknowledging your service, let me bear
Witness that this green laurel bough I wear
Is precious to me like no other crown.
This word I speak to all, and it is sure:
Beloved son, I am well pleased in you.

The carnival is over and the king is in his garden with Mephistopheles. The steward arrives, bearing good news.

The Steward: Your Majesty! I never would have thought
I’d one day bring the news I now have brought
Of such good fortune to you! For how
Can it be true? The bills are paid,
The usurers’ rage has been allayed
And from their hellish claws I’m free!
Can heaven offer such felicity?

(Each office holder appears before the Emperor in turn and reports that the economy is booming. The Chancellor, who had previously been the sole voice of opposition, admits that fiat money has solved all the problems of the empire.)

The Chancellor: I am glad not to have lived so long in vain!
Hear then and see this fateful paper, which
Has changed our poverty and made us rich

(The Chancellor then proceeds to read the terms upon which the new fiat currency was issued – namely, the intention to discover the location of all the buried treasure in the land (an obvious fraud…).)

“To whom it may concern: hereby be advised and told,
The present note is worth a thousand crowns in gold.
This sum secured and covered in full measure
By Imperial land’s abundant buried treasure;
The same to serve as its equivalent
Upon recovery as is our intent.

Justin Trudeau was the first candidate to run for office who made deficit spending a major plank of his campaign. An article from Bloomberg states that, “In the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau pledged to run deficits but for only three years and no more than a cumulative $25 billion….” [That was his intention] In actual fact, “Trudeau’s first three budgets were in the negative by a cumulative C$52 billion. His last budget in March projected a deficit for the current fiscal year of about $20 billion.” Source

Furthermore, during the 2019 campaign Trudeau promised to continue running deficits – 93 billion worth over the next four years! That adds up to a total of 165 billion in actual and projected deficit spending across Trudeau’s two terms in office. So much for Trudeau’s expressed intention back in 2014 to spend no more than 25 billion and only for a period of 3 years! Source

(The Emperor thinks that the new fiat currency is a great fraud and can’t believe that someone authorized it without his consent. The Treasurer swears that the Emperor did indeed sign the bill into law. As it turns out, the Emperor signed the bill during Carnival while drunk and dressed up as the Great Pan, the god of lust and every excess. However, the Treasurer assures the Emperor that the paper is working! The kingdom has been made great again!)

Emperor: My lords, this is some fraud, some vast deceit!
Who dared to sign my name in counterfeit?
Has no one yet been punished for this crime?

The Treasurer: You wrote it, Sire, yourself; at Carnival
Last night! You were Great Pan, you will recall;
The Chancellor approached, as did we all,
Beseeching you: ‘A few strokes of your pen
Will crown the feast and mend the realm again!’

You signed: and thanks to prestidigiation
The night sufficed for ample duplication
And in this general boon, to ensure fair play,
We printed the whole series straight away:
Tens, thirties, fifties, hundred – all are ready.
See how the people all rejoice already!
This town, half mouldy-dead of late, now thriving
Swarming with life, its appetites reviving!
Your name has blessed the world for many a ayear,
But never was so gladly read as here.
The remaining alphabet grows valueless,
For in this sign all now find happiness.

A satirical coin depicting John Law pumping money into the economy. Mid 1700’s. (British Museum)
One of the banknotes issued by the Bank Royale, the bank established by John Law that became a central bank to the French court under Louis XV. These notes were eventually rendered worthless but not before the paper money scheme inflated a massive bubble that saw shares in the Mississippi Company go from 500 livres to 15,000 livres before collapsing to zero. The collapse of this bubble resulted in serious inflation and a stampede into gold coin, the purchase of which was made illegal for a period of time. John Law died penniless. (British Museum)

Emperor: My people think it’s gold? Well now, that’s funny.
The court, the army, treat this as sound money?
Astonishing. But now what can I do?

Steward: No one could catch them, and away they flew;
It spread like lightning. Now on every side
The money-changers’ doors are open wide;
They’re honouring every note, both small and large
With gold and silver, though of course they charge
Commission. Butchers, bakers, landlords-good
Money for them! Half the world just wants food
And drink, the rest want fine new clothes to strut
About in; tailors stitch, cloth-merchants cut;
Meanwhile plates clatter, meats are stewed and roasted
In taverns, and “The Emperor!” is toasted.

Faust: The abundance of treasure buried deep
Under your lands lies frozen and asleep
Until we wake it. Thought’s utmost scope
Sets a mean limit to such wealth; the hope
Of fancy in its highest flight must fail,
Try as it may, to tell so rich a tale.
Yet worthier spirits whom deep insights bless
Place trust unbounded in this boundlessness.

Mephistopheles: Such paper currency, replacing gold and pearls, is most convenient: you can hold
A known amount, no sale or bartering
Is needed to enjoy love, wine, or anything
You please. And there are banks to sell you coin;
If not, then temporarily you join
The diggers, sell a golden chain or cup,
And thus the paper debt’s at once paid up
And all the mocking sceptics put to shame.
Everyone’s used to this, they want the same
System continued; thus the Empire far and wide
With jewels, gold, and paper now is well supplied.

“Ottawa’s gold holdings peaked in the 1960s at more than 1,000 tonnes. But the government has been steadily selling off its gold holdings ever since. By 2003, Ottawa was down to 3.4 tonnes, which it has now almost entirely sold.” (Source)

“Ottawa sells off almost all its gold reserves, leaving just 77 ounces — or less…” (Source)

(The Emperor gives his kingdom to Mephistopheles – (ie. the central banks). The treasurer agrees that the money supply should now be managed by Magicians.)

The Emperor: The Empire owes great benefits to you,
And a commensurate reward is due.
We entrust you with the ground in all our lands;
To guard that wealth, yours are the worthiest hands.
You know where we must dig, and at your word
we shall recover this great hidden hoard.
As partners now, join masters of our treasure,
Fulfill your honorable task with pleasure!
For here two world to union are invited,
Upper with lower happily united.

The Treasurer: sire, there shall be no strife and no divisions;
I like to have colleagues who are magicians.

(end of citation)

Source: Goethe, J. W. v. and D. Luke (1998). Faust. Part two. Oxford ; New York, Oxford University Press.

Central banks have drawn down the curse of Erysichthon upon our heads. This king of Thessaly, having chopped down the trees in Diana’s sacred grove to build his feasting hall, was cursed with an insatiable appetite.

“Yet when his wicked frenzy had consumed all sustenance and for the dire disease provision failed, the ill-starred wretch began to gnaw himself, and dwindled bite by bite as his own flesh supplied his appetite.” (Ovid, Metamorphosis)

It is supremely ironic that central banks are now vowing to save the environment. (see here) These are the same institutions that financed the strip-mining of our resources and the manufacture of untold amounts of trash. They are the ones that have filled our museums with fake art. They are the ones that enable a debt based economic system that must consume or die. The banks must be reigned in and honest weights and measures restored!

I nominate George Bailey for the next Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. I would pay good money to listen to Senator Paul Sarbanes introduce George Bailey to Congress. (George Bailey graduated from high school. He never made it to college. He took over his father’s bank and has operated it ever since…)

Potter tries to take over the local bank run by George Bailey in Bedford Falls.
George Bailey is given a vision of what Bedford Falls will look like if he gives up the fight for his bank.