The Triumvirate of Modern Warfare

Written by Gary North via Tea Party Economist

Campaign poster showing William McKinley holdi...

Campaign poster showing William McKinley holding U.S. flag and standing on gold coin “sound money”, held up by group of men, in front of ships “commerce” and factories “civilization”.

Three factors have made possible the modern world’s wars:  graduated taxation, the central bank, and the abolition of the gold coin  standard.

The relationship between central banking and war has been known for at least  400 years. The ability of the Dutch Republic to wage what was in effect a  revolutionary war against the Spanish Empire from the 1580s until 1647 was due  in large part to the creation of the bank of Amsterdam in 1609. The bank was not  inflationary. It operated on the basis of the gold standard. Stable money became  the backbone of the revolution.

The creation of the Bank of England in 1694 enabled Britain to fight a series  of wars to build its empire in the 18th century. The loss of the American  colonies in the 1780s had not been expected by British leaders. They understood  that the Bank of England provided an advantage in terms of raising capital for  the sale of war bonds. The Americans had nothing like this. What the Americans  had was a system of militias. The Americans fought what was essentially a  guerrilla war against the British.

The British were successful against France between 1793 and 1815, and again  it was stable finances that gave them the edge. It has long been understood that  the sinews of war come from stable finances.

With the demise of the gold standard shortly after the breakout of World War  I in 1914, central banks have no longer been restrained in their expansion of  credit. The arrival of the income tax, and especially the graduated income tax,  immediately before World War I, also enabled the mass warfare of World War I.  The British got the income tax in 1911, because Asquith, the Prime Minister,  along with Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, threatened to add so many peers  to the House of Lords, that the Lords buckled and accepted the income tax, as  well as the loss of  being able to veto money bills. Two years later, the United States also  ratified the income tax, or at least the Attorney General said the states had  ratified it. There is considerable doubt they did. But that did not matter,  since the public believed that the 16th amendment had been ratified. Also in  1913, in late December, the Federal Reserve was created. It went into operation  in 1914.

The top tax bracket in 1913 was 6%, on incomes over $500,000, the equivalent  today of over $11,500,000. The bottom rate was 3% incomes over $20,000, the  equivalent of $469,000 today. There was no tax below $20,000. In 1916, the top  rate was 13%. Then the USA entered World War I in 1917. In 1918, the top rate  was 77%: 12% plus  a 65% surtax.


So, in both Great Britain and the United States, the basis for mass warfare  came just before World War I. The income tax, when coupled with central banking,  and followed by the abolition of gold coin redeemability of the banking system,  all combined to create the worst war in man’s history, World War I. It was  followed by World War II. Then came the Cold War, with its massive military  expenditures by the USA.

There has been an unbreakable relationship over the past century that  combined the graduated income tax, central banking, the abolition of the gold  standard, and the rise of empire. If the national governments had not been able  to impose the income tax, they could not have borrowed as much as they did from  the general public. The investors would not have believed that the central  government could repay the debt. Without the abolition of the gold standard, the  central banks could not have expanded money at the rate that they did. The  inflation tax was imposed on the public, which was in addition to the income  tax. This was true throughout Western Europe and the USA.

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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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