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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Reading List: The Creature from Jekyll Island

Griffin, G. Edward. The Creature from Jekyll Island. Westlake Village, CA: American Media, [1994, 1995, 1998, 2002] 2010. ISBN 978-0-912986-45-6.
Almost every time I review a book about or discuss the U.S. Federal Reserve System in a conversation or Internet post, somebody recommends this book. I'd never gotten around to reading it until recently, when a couple more mentions of it pushed me over the edge. And what an edge that turned out to be. I cannot recommend this book to anybody; there are far more coherent, focussed, and persuasive analyses of the Federal Reserve in print, for example Ron Paul's excellent book End the Fed (October 2009). The present book goes well beyond a discussion of the Federal Reserve and rambles over millennia of history in a chaotic manner prone to induce temporal vertigo in the reader, discussing the history of money, banking, political manipulation of currency, inflation, fractional reserve banking, fiat money, central banking, cartels, war profiteering, bailouts, monetary panics and bailouts, nonperforming loans to “developing” nations, the Rothschilds and Rockefellers, booms and busts, and more.

The author is inordinately fond of conspiracy theories. As we pursue our random walk through history and around the world, we encounter:

  • The sinking of the Lusitania
  • The assassination of Abraham Lincoln
  • The Order of the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Masons, and the Ku Klux Klan
  • The Bavarian Illuminati
  • Russian Navy intervention in the American Civil War
  • Cecil Rhodes and the Round Table Groups
  • The Council on Foreign Relations
  • The Fabian Society
  • The assassination of John F. Kennedy
  • Theodore Roosevelt's “Bull Moose” run for the U.S. presidency in 1912
  • The Report from Iron Mountain
  • The attempted assassination of Andrew Jackson in 1835
  • The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia

I've jumped around in history to give a sense of the chaotic, achronological narrative here. “What does this have to do with the Federal Reserve?”, you might ask. Well, not very much, except as part of a worldview in which almost everything is explained by the machinations of bankers assisted by the crooked politicians they manipulate.

Now, I agree with the author, on those occasions he actually gets around to discussing the Federal Reserve, that it was fraudulently sold to Congress and the U.S. population and has acted, from the very start, as a self-serving cartel of big New York banks enriching themselves at the expense of anybody who holds assets denominated in the paper currency they have been inflating away ever since 1913. But you don't need to invoke conspiracies stretching across the centuries and around the globe to explain this. The Federal Reserve is (despite how it was deceptively structured and promoted) a central bank, just like the Bank of England and the central banks of other European countries upon which it was modelled, and creating funny money out of thin air and looting the population by the hidden tax of inflation is what central banks do, always have done, and always will, as long as they are permitted to exist. Twice in the history of the U.S. prior to the establishment of the Federal Reserve, central banks were created, the first in 1791 by Alexander Hamilton, and the second in 1816. Each time, after the abuses of such an institution became apparent, the bank was abolished, the first in 1811, and the second in 1836. Perhaps, after the inevitable crack-up which always results from towering debt and depreciating funny money, the Federal Reserve will follow the first two central banks into oblivion, but so deeply is it embedded in the status quo it is difficult to see how that might happen today.

In addition to the rambling narrative, the production values of the book are shoddy. For a book which has gone through five editions and 33 printings, nobody appears to have spent the time giving the text even the most cursory of proofreading. Without examining it with the critical eye I apply when proofing my own work or that of others, I noted 137 errors of spelling, punctuation, and formatting in the text. Paragraph breaks are inserted seemingly at random, right in the middle of sentences, and other words are run together. Words which are misspelled include “from”, “great”, “fourth”, and “is”. This is not a freebie or dollar special, but a paperback which sells for US$20 at Amazon, or US$18 for the Kindle edition. And as I always note, if the author and publisher cannot be bothered to get simple things like these correct, how likely is it that facts and arguments in the text can be trusted?

Don't waste your money or your time. Ron Paul's End the Fed is much better, only a third the length, and concentrates on the subject without all of the whack-a-doodle digressions. For a broader perspective on the history of money, banking, and political manipulation of currency, see Murray Rothbard's classic What Has Government Done to Our Money? (July 2019).

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