Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On Bribing Daniel Webster and the Lessons for Today

Bob Murphy sends me a link to a Mises Institute article by Liburne, on the machinations of Nicholas Biddle.

In an attempt to keep The Second Bank of the United States from being shutdown by Andrew Jackson, Biddle, president of the bank, bribed, in gentlemanly fashion (of course), Daniel Webster.

Liburne writes:

The Bank's most vocal supporter in Congress was Daniel Webster. Even though Webster had staunchly opposed the bank's original charter, he discovered the merits of the Bank when he found himself on its payroll. At the peak of the renewal controversy, in which Webster was playing a leading role, he wrote to Biddle,,

I believe my retainer has not been renewed or refreshed as usual. If it be wished that my relation to the Bank should be continued, it may be well to send me the usual retainers.
Biddle wasn't above bribing newspapers, either. Liburne writes:

Biddle didn't mind writing propaganda articles promoting the Bank and bribing newspaper editors to run them. Biddle wrote to one such editor,

If you will cause the articles I have indicated and others which I may prepare to be inserted in the newspaper in question, I will at once pay to you one thousand dollars.

Now, this was public money that he was offering as a bribe, and an amount worth over $22,000 in today's money. Of course, he insisted, there was "nothing in this communication which [he] should care to conceal." Nonetheless, he requested that the editor return the letter, "as it might be misconstrued."

This was exactly the sort of discrete, gentlemanly corruption that Jackson abhorred.
Of course, the discrete, gentlemanly corruption is even more discrete and gentlemanly these days. In July, I wrote:

I have long contended that the super elite talk in a kind of code that keeps them out of trouble. They no full well amongst each other what needs to be done in certain tight situations, but you will never hear any of them speak it. They sort of ride above the fray and think to themselves that they are not manipulating anything, when, in fact, they are attempting to manipulate the entire world!
Liburne suspects Bernanke is one of these gentlemanly code talkers that in actuality will stop at nothing to achieve their goals:
When Biddle's bureaucratic cradle was rocked, he quickly morphed into a Machiavellian monster. Keep that in mind as Ben Bernanke gets progressively cornered by Ron Paul and the burgeoning anti-Fed movement...

When you hear about the Federal Reserve Transparency Act getting stalled in committee, think of Daniel Webster, bought and paid for with central bank money. When you read Fed apologia in the New York Times, The Economist, and the Wall Street Journal denouncing the "reckless populism" of the Act, think of the newspaper editors in Biddle's pocket

Most of all, when you see Ben Bernanke on television, "respectfully" insisting upon the Fed's independence and "gently" warning of the economic consequences of any restrictions upon it, think of Nicholas Biddle — an outwardly mild-mannered fellow who would wreck a whole nation's prosperity in order to cling to power.

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