CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College history professor Richard Striner’s proposal for fixing the U.S. economy is the cover story of the Winter 2012 issue of American Scholar, the quarterly magazine published by the Phi Beta Kappa Society. His historically rooted pitch: Congress could create money, as it did during the Civil War, funding public projects that shock the economy back to life.
Striner, a Lincoln scholar whose 2010 book Lincoln's Way explored the use of broad presidential powers under six Administrations, says his research for that book piqued his interest in monetary policy, especially how the United States financed its wars and used major public works projects to boost employment. The son of an economist, he delved into U.S. monetary history from the Civil War forward. His proposal may be heresy to some, he notes, but a number of well-respected economists were saying much the same thing back in the 1930s and ’40s.
Striner’s proposal is different from any previous “Greenback” proposal because he envisions a dynamic partnership between Congress and the Federal Reserve—a partnership that would use all of the existing powers of “the Fed” to prevent or counteract inflation.
“I’m hoping this proposal will stimulate a major reconceptualization of what money is,” Striner says. “Most Americans have no idea of how our money supply is created or how money enters circulation, because the subject is hardly ever explained in vivid language that the general public can understand. This article, among its other aims, seeks to rectify that situation.”
To read the article online, visit http://theamericanscholar.org/how-to-pay-for-what-we-need/.
November 30, 2011