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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 73

The Question of the Day

The Question of the Day.

What is money? Can we have a circulating medium which will help us out of the Slough of Despond into which we are now plunged? Can this colony create such a circulating medium out of its own credit, and for its own domestic purposes, as will enable the people of New Zealand to exchange services and commodities, and deal with each other easily and safely? And would that bring about that which every producer desires—consumption?

I shall endeavor to answer these questions. I should only weary you if I attempted to give you an account of the disputes and controversies of the past (or, for that matter, of the present) on the subject of money and the currency. They are to a great extent stupid and unprofitable; foreign and domestic purposes are not distinguished; many writers were prompted by selfish interests, and to uphold the power of money; many honestly believed, and many still believe, in the worship of the Golden Calf; some preach Bimetallism, saying in effect we are safer to stand on two unsteady legs than on one. One, however, may well ask, Why stand on unsteady legs at all? But I think I am safe to assume that the great mass of the people everywhere are grossly ignorant about money and the currency. And, where that is the case, I need hardly tell you what always happens to such peoples—that is to say, to peoples who do not know, and are not quick to apprehend the meaning of things which are beneath the surface—they are easily imposed upon. That is a result absolutely certain to arise under a false monetary system, which the mass of the people never think about and do not understand.

But if it be examined in a common-sense way, unencumbered with controversial language and disputes about words, the subject of what money is and what money does can be intelligibly explained and easily understood.