The "Dump" of Silver

All the world will dump its silver on us if we adopt free coinage, says
the monometallist. How much, and where will it come from? asks the
bimetallist. Oh, the world has billions of it ready for us, is the vague
general reply; but when we ask for a bill of particulars we get instead a
fine confusion of prophecy.

One answers that it will come from Spanish America. But we have already
shown that all nations from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn have but
$100,000,000 for their 60,000,000 people. The South Americans have but 83
cents apiece. The Mexicans have $4.54. The Central Americans have $2.14.
And the South Americans have $550,000,000 in paper money, to bring which
to par and maintain it there will require at least $300,000,000 more in
silver than they now have. No "dump" from there.

From France, says another. Well, France has $487,000,000 in silver coin,
and some bullion; only $12.94 per capita in coin, and valued at 15-1/2 to
1 of gold. At her ratio an ounce is worth $1.3336; at ours $1.2929. Will
she rob herself of coin, when she has none too much for business, and sell
it to us at a loss of 4 cents on the dollar and freight charges? Germany
has but $215,000,000 in silver coin, less than half as much as France,
though having 13,000,000 more people, and Great Britain has but half as
much as Germany. All the other Europeans together have much less than
these three nations, and used at a higher valuation than ours. How then
can they "dump" any on us?

From India, say a few. Well, India has a deal of silver--$950,000,000,
according to our Director of the Mint. But she has 296,000,000 people, so
it is but $3.21 apiece. And the best evidence that she has not too much is
found in the fact that she is importing more. China has but $2.08 per
capita; Japan has but $4, and is importing heavily; Australia but $1.49,
and the black and brown races still less. In short, all the world outside
of the United States has but $3,444,900,000 in silver coin, or $2.46 per
capita. It is a plain case that there will be no "dump" from the coined
silver.

But the bullion, the old silver, the scrap heap, will they not ship that
to us by billions? Well, how much is there, and where is it? Will the
nobility and gentry of Europe melt down their family plate, the plain
people everywhere their silver ornaments, and the Hindoos their household
gods, to send us the silver? If so, why did they not do it when a cup, a
watch, or a silver god would buy twice as much gold as now? But the
supposition is absurd. The manufactured articles are worth very much more
than the metal in them, to say nothing of the sentimental value. A prize
silver cup, for instance, won in a great race or regatta, could not be
bought for ten times its weight in gold. There remain, then, only the
scrap heap and the stored bullion, and nobody has been able to locate any
great mass of it. Is it reasonable to suppose that moneyed men have been
storing away silver for years, making no profit on it and losing the
interest, and doing it in the face of a falling market? No, the timid may
be reassured; there will be no "dump."

Another class threaten us that a great mass of securities will be
"unloaded on us." Well, Great Britain, Germany, and Holland, all gold
countries, are the nations which hold practically all the American stock
and bonds held abroad. Of course they did not invest expecting to be paid
principal and interest in coin, for they know that there is not enough in
this country to pay it; it is in commodities that we must pay. So far as
these securities are bad, as we are sorry to say very many are, foreigners
having been badly "plucked" by some of our operators, they will be
returned anyhow. In fact, they are coming back now. As to those which are
good, being held against property capable of earning a steady and reliable
income, they will not be returned. Held in gold countries, the interest
and dividends on them will be paid in our products measured in the
currency of those countries, no matter what our monetary system may be.

But suppose the "prophets" of evil are correct to this extent that silver
and securities will be "dumped" on us to the amount of a billion or two.
Will the foreigners give us all these good things? Assuredly not. They
must all be paid for; and with what? Manifestly with agricultural
products, for there is little or nothing else. The farmer must furnish the
stuff, and he is ready and willing to do it--yes, anxious. At least
three-fourths of our exports are agricultural, and of the new exports
probably seven-eighths would be. We find, moreover, that in 1891
55,131,948 bushels of wheat exported brought us $51,420,272, and in 1892,
157,280,351 bushels brought us $161,399,132, while in 1894 the 88,415,230
bushels exported brought us only $59,407,041, and in 1895, 76,102,704
bushels brought us but $43,805,663. Similarly it may be shown that our
largest cotton exports have brought us the least money; but this is an old
story. It goes without saying, that to the farmer there are three great
factors in the present situation: a ruinously low price for his products,
a tremendous surplus left over from last year, and an immense crop for
this year now adding to the surplus, with no possible home consumption to
give an adequate outlet. Suppose then the "dump" should come and the farm
produce go--what then?

First of all there must come as a result a rise in prices. Farmers
receiving much more money would immediately pay their most pressing debts;
the release of idle money would break the deadlock which now paralyzes
trade, and from the farmer the money would at once be poured into the
channels of rural business. The consumptive demands would be tremendous
because of the long and forced abstinence, and the farmer would supply
himself with those things he has so long wanted. The railroads would have
a vastly increased business, and as a result there would be a greatly
increased demand for labor. Instead of the ruinous "cut in rates" which we
read of almost every day, made in order to stimulate the movement of
crops, we should soon hear of vastly increased shipments at profitable
rates; these of course would soon be followed by increased net earnings,
which would in time create increased values of securities, which again
would check foreign sales and stimulate purchases. There would be a boom
in stocks to dispel the gloom of Wall Street, and we should do the
money-mongers good in spite of themselves.

Is this all supposition? Well, we are proceeding upon the theory of the
monometallists, that a billion dollars' worth of silver and securities
would be shipped here. We are showing what must inevitably result if their
predictions should hold good--more money for the farmers, more business
for the merchants, more transportation for the railroads, and more
business for their correlated industries; and, as a result, more work,
abundant work, for those now idle. And this last would be the greatest
blessing of all. The benefit would be to the farmer, the handlers of grain
and all who serve them, to the retail tradesmen, the small manufacturers,
all the country artisans immediately dependent upon the farmer, and all
those who supply all of these classes. In short, there would be a general
quickening of all branches of production and trade as a certain result of
the transfer of foreign silver and securities for our agricultural
surplus. Is there anything in all this to alarm Americans?



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