“End the Fed”
by Ron Paul
Rating: 10 of 10
The Federal Reserve System must be challenged. Ultimately, it needs to be eliminated. The government cannot and should not be trusted with a monopoly on money. No single institution in society should have power this immense. In fact, I believe that freedom itself is at stake in this struggle.
– Ron Paul, “End the Fed,” p. 11
In 17 years of writing game and book reviews, I can count on two hands the number of times I have ever given out the highest rating. True excellence is to be distinguished from the merely very good, and it is far rarer than the heavy use of superlatives in our everyday language would tend to indicate. “End the Fed” is more than a timely political polemic, it is also the story of the long and patient campaign by a small group of freedom-loving patriots to restore economic liberty to the American people.
Being a student of economic history myself, I was deeply impressed by Paul’s knowledge of not only the Federal Reserve System’s present organization and practices, but the way in which the system was surreptitiously created and inflicted upon an unsuspecting American people who had no idea what was intended for their money nor understood that the financial rapine of their descendants was being secured. Few of those who errantly believe that a central bank is a vital necessity to a national economy have any idea that Americans have shaken off the paper chains of a central bank three times in their history, much less know that the Fed’s destruction of nearly 100 percent of the value of American money is entirely in keeping with the historical performance of its three predecessors.
Paul makes a strong case against the Fed by its own standards. He shows how it has not been successful in stabilizing the business cycle by citing the 18 recessions that the National Bureau of Economic Research records as having taken place since the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. He describes how it has failed to provide banking stability, and he demonstrates the way in which it has completely failed to control inflation with a graph that shows how 95 percent of the purchasing power of the dollar has been inflated away during the 96 years of the Fed’s monetary monopoly.
Most importantly, Paul shows how the true purpose of the Federal Reserve System is to empower politicians to favor special interests while simultaneously enriching the financial elite who provide the politicians with that power. But because this parasitical system is not sustainable in the long term, it is guaranteed to break down eventually, most likely in a manner that will lead to a fascist system where profits are funneled to the influential special interests while losses are transformed into public obligations. Paul traces the seeds of this process back to Woodrow Wilson’s planning state of World War I, seeds which have now blossomed into the financial industry bailouts and government takeovers of the insurance, mortgage, banking and automotive industries that we have witnessed in the last two years.
The most fascinating element of the book is Paul’s personal interactions with three chairmen of the Federal Reserve: Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. Of the three, he has the most respect for Volcker, while Greenspan comes off as a calculating pragmatist who knows better but goes along with the charade to get along. Bernanke is repeatedly slammed, as Paul wonders why, in light of his reliably incorrect prognostications, anyone takes his views seriously today. The most damning exchange in the book is the congressman’s exchange with Bernanke on July 18, 2007, after he attempts to warn the Fed chairman about the unsustainability of the system.
Ben Bernanke: The Federal Reserve is committed to maintaining low and stable inflation and I’m very confident that we’ll be able to do that.
Ron Paul: You’re not answering whether or not you anticipate a problem.
Ben Bernanke: I’m not anticipating a problem like ’79-’80.
Ron Paul: With your fingers crossed, I guess.
Paul adds, rather dryly, that the finger crossing must not have worked, as two weeks later the Bear Stearns hedge funds collapsed and kicked off the global financial crisis. Throughout the book, his tone is neither angry nor inflammatory, but instead reflects the bemused patience of an elder statesman who can no longer be surprised by the madness and short-sightedness of men. Indeed, Paul ends on an inspiring and optimistic note, as he clearly believes that for the first time in five generations, a sufficient percentage of the American people may be capable of understanding the system well enough to demand that it is brought to an end before it collapses in either global financial servitude or war.
“End the Fed” is a powerful indictment of the present financial system, and it is impossible to read it without concluding that the Federal Reserve System is doomed by its very nature and that it is therefore in the best interests of the American people to shut it down before it collapses. I suspect reading it will also be a bittersweet experience for many Republicans, as the contrast between the wisdom and integrity of the author and that of the bankers’ minion who was more concerned with the fate of Wall Street than with the presidential election could not be greater. In writing “End the Fed,” Ron Paul has placed a fitting capstone on his legacy as a great champion of freedom, capitalism and the American people.