Sunday, March 06, 2016
The Adventures of Gutshot and Shades
The Federalist gene
The Adventures of Gutshot and Shades
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
The more things change … the more things stay the same.
Alexander (Gutshot) Hamilton and Harry (Shades) Reid lived 225 years apart, but will be remembered for sharing what must be considered a federalist gene. The manifestation is a general disdain for any ability of people to make decisions for themselves. Arguably, Hamilton was the most vocal opponent of citizenry being projected as our cornerstone. Unabashedly, he campaigned to ‘array property on the side of government’ which fully intended central government control of property.
His obsession for governance by important people was not even masked. He believed the Constitution needed to elevate the importance of the upper, ‘propertied’ class. He lobbied aggressively, but was soundly defeated in the battle of ideas. He packed up his writing quills and disappeared back into his world of contracts and arbitrage while Madison and company put the initial, nominal stamp of uniqueness on the law of our land that was unprecedented in history.
Since his battle with either a man or mean machine that left him hidden behind shades, the modern version of Gutshot Hamilton, Shades Reid, has adequately filled his predecessor’s role. We can remember his condescending reference toward American citizenry entering their capital building in wide eyed wonder but smelling of sweat. The need to dampen the stench with ventilation and air conditioning was the point of his comments which accompanied a major renovation of the capital which would more efficiently rout the commoners into and out the midst of his Senate’s important business proceedings.
Governance by important people of permanence shan’t be disturbed!
Shades of propertied class
There is so much political intrigue in Clark County, Nevada that a soap opera should be produced. For starters, running battles of government agencies against the county’s diminishing booted, spurred, and sweaty stewards could fill at least a month of the first episodes. Next, the green revolution could be featured. In fact, the Searchlight chronicles should be part of that segment. Searchlight, the gold mining center of the county, is the birthplace of none other than past majority leader, Reid. He remains the senate minority leader and the Democratic Party’s leading advocate of green energy.
Should there be little surprise that Searchlight is the target for a 19,000 acre, 87 turbine, and 200 megawatt wind farm? A more important question then becomes, “is there any surprise that the project is near Shades’ property?”
The project happens to be on federal lands which would never be considered if it wasn’t part of a well connected, special interest effort with allies in high government. It simply wouldn’t happen.
The hypocrisy is stifling.
Clark County ranchers have largely been evicted because of nominal threats to a desert tortoise species that might be harmed by their cattle presence, but grading of the desert lands for the installation of the turbines some of which reach 428’ passes muster by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the BLM (at the same time, the latter agency has put a notice in the Federal Register prohibiting any mining claims in the area for several years. This follows on the heals of prosecuting two ranchers for terrorism relating to setting two fires that burned less than 200 acres of federal land in Oregon).
The threat from grading the 19,000 acres of Clark County desert land with the resulting potential release of the fungi that causes valley fever or coccidioidomycosis, however, has been used by local citizens to halt the process. This grassroots effort now stands poised to secure an unexpected and unprecedented legal victory over the government and its wealthy minority leader power structure.
History demonstrates, though … government eventually gets what government wants.
Our first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, was claimed to be a genius by most biographers. He was also a cocky, womanizing progressive rooster that failed to agree with any of the benchmark strategies of the Constitution. He lamented that he and the Constitution were simply at odds. He wanted “important” people permanently at the helm of the new government. He opined that the government should control the property of the nation, and, with that, the revenue sources.
He also conceived of the methodology from which to create our nation’s credit system which largely remains today. When it is studied, it must be elevated into the hierarchy of what we now know in modern parlance as Economic Stimulus.
Gutshot and Shades stand in unitary juxtaposition!
He got it done in two steps both of which were spawned in his “Report” that, at once, stunned and amazed the first Congress. While many of the near frontier representatives wanted to sell public lands to reduce the war debt of the new nation, Gutshot conceived a process that would a) reward and elevate the “important” people and b) transfer the burden of the debt to the citizenry without relying on the sale of public lands. The vehicle of implementation was the paper held by the original war effort creditors.
Most of the securities were held in “the hands of soldiers, farmers, and merchants in the remote interior”. To most of them, the counterpart to the modern sweating masses, the certificates had come to mean “so much worthless paper”. They had given up hoping it would be redeemed. Hamilton, however, held to the idea to hold par the promises to pay for all those securities. What took place was that the moneyed class, the important people, got wind of the idea long before the news of the idea reached the back country of Georgia, North Carolina, and elsewhere. They were ready and able to make fortunes.
Four days after the “Report” was read in Congress, expresses with large sums of money were on the trails and roads south, west, and north and at least three sea going vessels were sailing to southern ports for the purposes of buying those securities up before the holders got word of the idea. It is believed that 29 of the elected Congress were party to the frenzy. What those “plundering harpies” accomplished was to buy up the majority of the debt by preying on the ignorance of the poor. The gallant veterans, driven by economic necessity in the wilderness were robbed by the “by speculators of the pittance a grateful country had bestowed”. So thoroughly did the money holders skewer the commoners that they were able to buy the majority of the certificates for “two to five shillings on the pound” … dimes on the dollar.
The process advanced to the government paying full face value for the paper, one hundred cents on the dollar for a purchase of fifteen to twenty cents, by taxing the citizenry to pay the obligations. The cornerstone not only got robbed, they had to pay the bill.
The wealth accumulation was immense. Robert Morris benefited to the tune of $18M dollars of that day! Jeremiah Wadsworth cashed his in for $9M and New York Governor George Clinton bankrolled $5M.
Gutshot Hamilton secured the first phase of his credit vision. He had private capital in banks started by “important” people.
The second step of securing his dream was the move to assume the debt of the states. This action effectively triggered the process of eliminating state rights and sovereignty by transferring monetary power to the central government. It was the ultimate move to mortgage the government to the “important citizenry”. The process was the same. The speculating gentry, fully flush through the first wealth transfers, were ready to act. All they needed was government approval and they got it. The state certificates were soon in their hands with the promise of the government to pay in full by taxing the populous. What made the second phase of Hamilton’s credit creation so distasteful was the relatively heavy debt that remained in the northern states. The southern states had retired a greater portion of their debt, but when the remaining debt was purchased, they were faced with added taxes to pay for North’s debt as well!
Important citizenry … only got more important.
What is most revealing in this whole sordid affair was the trade that secured the debacle of “Assumption”. The north wanted the relief of debt along with the rabid desire of the neuveau rich capitalists to increase their banking strength through another grand round of stimulus. The South wanted the nation’s capital.
Both got what they wanted. Washington became the capital and Hamilton got his credit system. It was the citizenry and the states that were permanent losers … just as the Nevadans will likely become the permanent losers on their federalists’ desert.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Jefferson later tried to explain his support for Assumption, but he may have negated all his contributions by the agreement to support Hamilton in this ruse that permanently created a ruling class of gentry … attached to the central government.”