(Reactions to recent events by Harrison Schmitt — Heartland Institute Board member, former U.S. Senator (R-N.M.), and the last man (and first scientist) to set foot on the moon. (Cross-posted at America’s Uncommon Sense):
Many politicians and media pundits who should know better are not thinking very rationally about Governor Rick Perry’s recent critical remarks concerning Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and further additions to the nation’s money supply. It turns out that a constitutional analysis adds weight to Governor Perry’s instructive remarks.
As reported, those remarks on August 15th were: “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”
First of all, saying that “we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas” is simply Governor Perry’s colloquial way of saying “Texans would not appreciate further dollar devaluation and they would tell him so.” Most Americans also understand why Chairman Bernanke would be so treated. In addition, the low interest rate policies of Bernanke and his predecessor contributed more than most to the housing debacle of 2008, although the Congress shares much of that blame as well. Congress encouraged sub-prime lending, gave the Fed the impossible task of balancing employment with monetary stability, and has not controlled the Fed’s power to issue money as it is empowered to do [See essay No. 42].
The remainder of the Governor’s remarks clearly states the opinion that “printing more money to play politics” is wrong. Printing more and more dollars of diminishing value won’t make the country less bankrupt. Economic history repeatedly shows that more money on top of that already injected into the economy, without a comparable increase in true wealth, ultimately leads to rising inflation. In addition to inflation, investment and employment stagnation results from policy uncertainties relative to income taxes, dollar value, and regulations. Increasing damage to the economy not only hurts all Americans financially, but it also damages our ability to provide adequately for our national security.
The question is would it indeed be constitutionally “treasonous” to print more money “at this particular time in American history…?” Article 3, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution states “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” It is important to note that the Constitution defines two types of treason: levying War and adhering to enemies. Bad monetary policy does not directly “levy War” against the United States. On the other hand, by eroding our financial capability to provide for national security, that policy “adheres to” or supports our enemies, whether designated as such or waiting in the wings, and gives “them aid and comfort.”
The financial demise of America is the goal of radical Islam, a clearly defined enemy. The financial displacement of America’s world leadership is an increasingly well-defined goal of China— our new Cold War enemy, militarily. Constitutionally, providing “aid and comfort” to any such adversary is arguably “treasonous” as Governor Perry alluded.