The Strong Money of St. Louis

The Strong Money of St. Louis

“he reached into his inner coat pocket and pulled out a gros tournois coin minted almost 750 years ago in France.”

Speaking with a friend recently, we chanced to talk about money and coins. He is a coin collector and had just visited a coin shop nearby. I mentioned my own studies of medieval economy and its coinage. Much to my surprise and delight, he reached into his inner coat pocket and pulled out a gros tournois coin minted almost 750 years ago in France.

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For me it was something of an emotional experience. I had seen pictures of the coin and knew a bit of its history. But I had never actually held the coin in my hand. When my friend handed it to me, I was thrilled by the chance to “touch history.”

The Origin of the Coin
This is no ordinary coin. It is small, slightly larger yet much thinner than a dime. It is also beautiful with inscriptions and symbols full of meaning upon its faces.

It should be explained that this coin was born of prosperity, since the value of the then-standard denier, or penny, was inconveniently small for use in trade and commerce. Introduced in 1266, this medieval silver coin, worth 12 denier, provided the added value needed to favor France’s expanding economy.

It was called the gros tournois because it was minted at the city of Tours—the towers of the city’s abbey appear on one of the coin’s faces. While many cities in medieval France minted their own gros coins, the ones from Tours were among the most stable over the course of centuries.

An Extraordinary Ruler
However, what makes this particular coin very special is the fact that he who minted it was no ordinary person. His name actually appears in Latin on the coin and reads: Ludovicus Rex, or Louis the King, also known as Saint Louis.

King Saint Louis IX (1214-1270) was a virtuous ruler beloved by his people and known for his passion for justice and his love of the poor. He became legendary in history for delivering fair judgments to all, rich and poor, who came before him under the tall oak tree of Vincennes.

Good and saintly kings are not only the stuff of legends, but they are also excellent economists. Under his reign, France grew and prospered.

As I held his gros tournois in my hand, I could not help but think that we would do well to implement the monetary policies contained in that coin.

A Return to Sound Money
We would do well to return to sound money. The gros tournois was sound money. It was ample in supply, stable in value, beautiful in appearance.

More importantly, the coin did not fulfill the functions, so common in our days, of facilitating unbridled credit, frenzied expansion, and speculation. Indeed, such practices were discouraged by the moral codes of the time. The gros tournois fulfilled the primary and true functions of money, which should serve as a measure of value, a stable exchange medium, and a temperate store of wealth. In addition, this money did not originate from or thrive upon debt.

The gros tournois was a practical and adaptable currency. It was conceived to facilitate the convenience of exchange with common sense, wisdom and flexibility. It did not dominate over other alternative local currencies. It enjoyed the trust of the people, and could be considered a true expression of the culture.

From a purely technical standpoint, the coin represented sound money as defined by many modern economists.

A Return to Moral Money
However, it is not enough to have just sound money if we are to return to order. We would do well to return to moral money.

Saint Louis did not succumb to the temptation of implementing monetary policy based solely on the mechanical manipulations of formulae and numbers. He did not inflate or debase his currency to fit with personal goals.

Modern economists blind themselves to the obvious fact, so often verified, that in the stormy history of money, bad money most often appears because of the despotic acts of men and rulers. Their good or bad actions really determine the course of the economy and the soundness of money.

The gros tournois was sound because Saint Louis sought after justice. His money enjoyed the trust and confidence of the people because they knew the saintly king would not manipulate or debase it. He used the power and prestige of his office to advance the common good and not his personal affairs.

Money fails when injustice rules and the rule of law is ignored. Then, there is no monetary system that cannot be circumvented or perverted. In vain do we speak about a sound monetary policy outside of virtue. Indeed, virtue is the best backing of money; it far outshines the brilliance of gold.

A Return to Godly Money
Finally, we would do well to return to what might be called “Godly” money. Such an affirmation might irritate secular people who wish to see God banished from all worldly affairs.

The gros tournois was Godly money. Upon one of its faces, there is a large cross of Christ. The abbreviated inscription on the front says in Latin: benedictum sit nomen domini nostri Jesu Christi or “blessed be the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

It is proper that even money should call to mind God and our last ends. Meditating on our salvation puts our desires and appetites in order, which in turn tempers the frenzied excesses of unrestraint in an economy. The cross on the coin signifies the fact that money cannot take away the suffering and trials of our fallen nature. It cannot buy happiness.

During that age of Faith, it was not unreasonable to think that when the name of Jesus Christ is blessed upon coinage, Christ’s blessings upon the economy can be expected, as indeed happened in Saint Louis’s times.

Confiding in Government
Alas, in our age of disbelief, people today prefer to put their faith in the Federal Reserve free subscriptionand central banks—from which no blessings flow. Rather than throw themselves upon their knees, people prefer to throw themselves into the frenetic intemperance of modern markets that encourage instant gratification and unbridled indulgence.

And when frenzied economies fail, as they inevitably do, they call upon massive governments to prop them up, incur debt, and destroy yet further the currencies of the land.

Would that we might return to the wise policies of Saint Louis! History records that when money suffered debasement from wars and unsound policies in fourteenth-century France, the people clamored and longed for the “strong money” of good King Saint Louis.

Holding the gros tournois in my hand, I found myself clamoring for the strong money of Good King Saint Louis. It is still strong.

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Stop the Madness of Un-Thanksgiving

turkeyAs we gear up for the Thanksgiving holidays, many are preparing to engage in a strange new ritual that is crowding out the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie. The ritual, of course, is the extension of Black Friday shopping into Thanksgiving Day. It is a practice so shocking that we might as well create a new holiday—un-Thanksgiving—since nothing could be more contrary to the intention of the real holiday than its present evolution.

This year, media will again report on frenzied shoppers mobbing retail stores in search of super bargains. People will camp out in front of giant box stores for hours on end to get the jump on their fellow bargain hunters. Indeed, there is the extreme case of some fanatical California shoppers camping out at Best Buy a full twenty-two days ahead of the un-Thanksgiving stampede.

Read the popular article: Why a Conservative Victory is not Enough

Undoubtedly, such shoppers will find bargains. And retailers will also be making lots of money. But the new un-holiday is not about bargains. It’s about joining in the frenzy. It’s about the thrill of entering into a culture of unrestraint. ”Joining in the frenzy” has been with us for a long time. It is a manifestation of a deeper problem that has long plagued our culture. There is what might be called a restless spirit of frenetic intemperance inside modern economy that helps destroy limits, break down traditional institutions (like Thanksgiving) and encourage instant gratification.

Un-Thanksgiving just takes this experience to new depths. In this new buying binge, we see more clearly the terrifying consequences of our extreme individualism that leads people to enter, to paraphrase Hobbes, into a veritable “war of every shopper against every shopper.” We sense the frustrating burden of materialism that compels shoppers to buy the latest and greatest gadgets that will eventually clutter their basements and garages. There is the paradox of celebrating a bland and sterile secularism on a day set aside to thank God for His blessings.

The result of this “joining in the frenzy” is that we are losing that human element so essential to life together in society. Things are becoming cold and impersonal, fast and frantic, bland and superficial. Un-Thanksgiving is not just a shopping spree; it’s a brutal celebration of this cold, frenetic spirit.

There are three reasons that might be cited to explain why this un-holiday has only appeared now.

The first is because of the ever-accelerating pace of life. In our culture of unrestraint, everyone must have everything, now, instantly, effortlessly. Marketers have ramped up the calendar to sell things earlier. Technology has responded with newer and faster ways to spend the money we often don’t have. Ironically, un-Thanksgiving is made possible by i-Phones, i-pads and so many uberdevices that facilitate our mad rush to experience life ever faster…and that are sold at giant discounts on a now Black Thursday.

The second reason is more profound. Un-Thanksgiving involves “joining in the frenzy,” which speeds us up. Real Thanksgiving is about connecting with family, community and church that slows us down.

Indeed, the sad state of our social institutions is what makes this frantic un-holiday possible. When family ties wither, mature adults can spend twenty-two days camped out in front of Best Buy to get gadgets “to die for,” rather than stay home and cultivate values to live for.

On the contrary, Thanksgiving happens when the norm of life is for each individual to belong to a family, community and parish church. Then, traditions, customs, habits, and ways of being can be passed down from generation to generation. These three social anchors provide a solid mooring for a “Thanksgiving” society.

Today, these institutions are no longer anchors, but options. The present culture encourages so many to opt-out of all three. At the same time, we are all pressured to accept the option of “joining in the frenzy.” We have now reached that tragic tipping point where frenzy can compete with tradition…and tradition often loses.

The final and most important reason why this un-holiday has appeared is because our secular society has effectively dethroned God to whom we should render our thanksgiving. A politically correct tyranny has exiled God from the public square, the school and workplace. Even in the home, God is often ignored amid the rush of everyday life. When God is no longer the object of our longings, the spiritual vacuum will be filled by material idols found in our shopping-mall temples on major un-feast days.

Fortunately, the notion of Thanksgiving still resonates in the hearts of many Americans. They deplore the exploitation of the holiday and seek a return to order. However, it is not enough to simply return to the turkey and fixings. Rather, we must stop “joining in the frenzy” that destroys economies and cultures. We must reconnect, give thanks and have recourse to God and call upon His blessings

As pubished on Spero News.

Five Ways Technology Is Taking Over Your Life


“We should not serve technology and allow our gadgets to control our lives”

The proper use of technology is that it should be a means to serve us and make our lives easier. A key requirement is that we should be in control. We should not serve technology and allow our gadgets to control our lives, social skills or decisions. When this happens, it can endanger the proper development of the personality and hamper the social relationships needed for life together in society.

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How much each can be exposed to technology depends upon the individual. Each person needs to perceive there is a point, where we ourselves feel “standardized” and “mechanized.” We need to be able to stop and assess the degree of technology that we can accept and still retain control of our personality. Then we must take measures to establish that line beyond which we cannot cede an inch lest it harm our development.

The need to make this assessment can be seen in all sorts of gadgets and systems that illustrate just how intrusive technology has become. These often exploit vices and obsessions that lead many to act in a manner contrary to their well-being or personality.

There is, for example, a system called IPourIt in which bar patrons no longer have the human contact of a bartender but dispense their own beer, wine, or other drinks from taps and pay by the ounce. It turns the drinking experience into an almost mechanical experience. An electronic wristband records the volume of any drink taken from the taps on the wall, and can even prevent the person from drinking too much based on the person’s height and weight.

There are gambling establishments that install face recognition software on their slot machines. When a regular gambler starts to leave, his favorite slot machines will call out his name asking him to return.

Whats Wrong With Video Games?

“young men spend hours upon hours playing them even to the point of not eating or sleeping.”

We might also mention video game addiction that present actions so exciting that young men spend hours upon hours playing them even to the point of not eating or sleeping.

There is something terribly wrong with systems that control a person’s behavior and play upon his impulses, addictions and vices.

Where do we draw the line? Here are five ways to perceive the bad effects of technology in our lives. There are also general suggestions as to what a person can do to draw the line.

1.  We know something is wrong when we prefer to deal with a machine rather than a person. It usually means we have become like a machine and demand machine like responses from others. We should make a special effort to engage with humans in certain transactions and contacts.

2.  A problem exists when we cannot do without a machine for over 24 hours. It means the gadget has become a point of obsession and needs to be controlled. We should establish times—and even long periods—where we refrain from using our devices.

3.  There is something wrong when our use of technological gadgets blocks out our perception of the world. This means we have become so self-absorbed that we ignore others. We should attempt to expand horizons beyond our devices by looking for more personal ways to find out what is happening around us such as regularly discussing world events with others.

4.  Something needs to be done when we experience difficulty communicating and expressing our personality to others because of excessive technology use. This means we are losing the notion of nuance and spontaneity that characterize human action. We should then reassess whether we should use at all those offending devices especially video game consoles that become obsessive.

5.  There is a problem when we feel a mania for speed and a nausea for reflection. It means that we experience difficulty in enjoying those truly human and proportional spiritual pleasures and joys like conversation, art, and silence. We must then make an effort to slow down our lives and thus reacquire a taste for those joys that give meaning to life.

Some might ask why we should bother drawing the line. Why not let technology control our lives. We owe it to ourselves to draw the line. It is a matter of having sufficient love and self-respect that we need to protect ourselves and our personalities from being absorbed by technology. We owe to our neighbors who will suffer from our impersonal dealings with them. We owe it to God Who gave us our lives with the freedom to develop ourselves toward perfection and sanctity and not be enslaved by abusive technology.

As Seen on TheBlaze.

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The False Libertarian Notion of Self-Ownership

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“This is the notion that each individual owns himself, just like one who owns a piece of property.”

Written by Michael Whitcraft*

Libertarians support the idea that a government’s only purpose is to protect life, liberty and private property. One way this is done is through an idea they call self-ownership. This is the notion that each individual owns himself, just like one who owns a piece of property. Thus, the government should have no say on what we do with ourselves.

David Boaz in his book, The Libertarian Mind, expresses this principle in the following way: “The right of self-ownership,” he says, “certainly implies the right to decide for ourselves what food, drink, or drugs we will put into our own bodies; with whom we will make love (assuming our chosen partner agrees); and what kind of medical treatment we want (assuming a doctor agrees to provide it).”

This idea of “medical treatment” would certainly include the right to suicide. This is very much of an issue for those living in California, since Governor Brown just signed an assisted suicide law there.

This self-ownership extends not just to our bodies, but to our minds as well. Thus, classical liberal author John Stuart Mills wrote: “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

Hence, they believe in absolute freedom of thought and freedom of expression, including the right to any form of pornography. The only limit to their view of freedom over oneself is when someone engages in an activity that denies rights to another person.

It should be mentioned that their notion of denying rights to others is very short-sighted. Who could deny that an individual who decides to become a drug user denies the rights of those with whom he associates? Think here of husbands, wives, children and family members who will have the weight of dealing with a drug user thrust on their shoulders.

This notion of self-ownership means that libertarians are very individualistic. For them, their self-interest is more important than the common good. That is why they are opposed to military conscription. They consider the draft to be a form of slavery.

Included in this notion is the idea that the only purpose of society is to help the individual. They have no concept of a higher purpose for society, of a society of greater value than the individuals in that society. If you disagree, they disparage you as a “communitarian.”

Boaz expresses this in the following words: “Communitarians in modern America” he says:Subscription1.1 “are people who believe that ‘the community’ should in some way take precedence over the individual.”

Thus, they harshly criticized John McCain when he called on Americans to serve “a national purpose that is greater than our individual interests.” Boaz even goes so far as to claim, “civil society itself is not an organization and does not have a purpose of its own.”

A Reading by John Horvat for the York Book Expo

A Reading by John Horvat for the York Book ExpoIn this video, author John Horvat reads from the introduction to his book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society– Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go. The video was recorded as part of the promotional program of the first annual York Book Expo held on October 17 in York, Penn. Return to Order was featured along the books of 85 local authors.

The video is presented below.


Does Wal-Mart Carry Everything?

Does Wal-Mart Carry Everything?

“The Wal-Mart abundance is really just a veneer of all the variety that exists.”

There are those who seem to believe that big department store chains like Wal-Mart carry almost everything that exists. This is, however an illusion.

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Writer Chris Anderson observes that this impression is part of the paradox of plenty. He writes: “Walk into a Wal-Mart and you’re overwhelmed by abundance and choice. Yet look closer and the utter thinness of this cornucopia is revealed. Wal-Mart’s shelves are a display case a mile wide and twenty-four inches deep” (Chris Anderson, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, New York: Hyperion, rev. and updated, 2008, p.156).

Anderson notes that the actual proportion of goods that exist is more like a world that is one mile wide and a mile deep. The Wal-Mart abundance is really just a veneer of all the variety that exists.


The Robo-Bar: Automating Your Drinking Experience


“part of the public drinking experience has been the banter of the bartender”

For centuries, part of the public drinking experience has been the banter of the bartender with the customers. Such conversation can have a relaxing and therapeutic effect on the person. In the new cyber-bar, however, the bartender is no longer needed. The customer assumes the function.

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There is a new self-serve beverage system called IPourIt in which bar customers dispense their own beer, wine, or any other drink from taps and pay by the ounce.

The person presents a state-issued ID, and then receives a radio-frequency-encoded wristband. This device records the volume of any drink taken from any of the taps on the wall. The drinker can sample (and pay for) the options before pouring a full glass. The bar actually saves money since the customer pays for the overflow that frequently happens in busy bars.

Even sobriety is monitored. The system can limit the customer’s consumption based on height and weight, worked out in conjunction with the alcohol content of beverages sampled.Subscription13

(As described by Craig Lambert, Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs that Fill Your Day, Berkeley, Calif., Counterpoint Press, 2015, p. 151.)

An Organic Christian Society Cannot Be a Co-op


“We must avoid the formation of inward-turned groupings of individuals”

The first characteristic of an organic Christian society is that it be a community. We must avoid the formation of inward-turned groupings of individuals that seek to artificially create an organic community.

In reality, these are not communities but co-ops. This is discussed in Return to Order in dealing with the co-op mentality.

This co-op mentality uses the business model of a farmer co-op as the model for a community. Co-ops are great for farmers but not for communities. Co-ops are run to confer benefits, voting privileges and profits. As long as an atmosphere of well-being and happiness exists, co-op members renew their membership with great enthusiasm.

However, in times of trials, these co-ops, like bankrupt businesses, break down.

One reason they fail is that they are so inwardly turned. When people are not turned toward an outside enemy, they tend to look for squabbles inside. So many of these co-ops end in great internal battles, as someone has to be assigned the blame for failure. Many times, they are sustained by strong charismatic leaders and dissolved when these strong leaders or priests pass on.

In his book, The New Agrarian Mind: The Movement Toward Decentralist Thought in Twentieth Century America, Allan Carlson outlines the agrarian experiments that took place in the early twentieth century including Catholic experiments that sought to exercise a kind of Benedict option. They all failed.

They failed because there was an agreement about the practical means but not as much on the ideals. They all failed because they were more collections of individuals gathered together in a co-op than a community.

Just as we cannot imagine a business model as the model for a family, so also a community must be forged together into a family-like institution of shared sorrows and joys. This must be our model.

 The above selection was taken from the talk, “The Benedict Option and a Return to Order” delivered by John Horvat II at the American TFP’s 2015 National Conference held on October 24-25 in Spring Grove, Penn.

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Regional Foods Express Local Culture

Regional Foods Express Local Culture

“or May cheese and Michaelmas cheese which could be found only in their small region.”

Regional varieties of foods flourished and a very wide range of flavors could be distinguished before the standardization of so many food commodities.

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Local consumers might, for example, enjoy the subtle differences of flavor between grass butter and hay butter or May cheese and Michaelmas cheese which could be found only in their small region. (See Joan Thirsk, “The Rural Economy,” in Our Forgotten Past: Seven Centuries of Life on the Land, ed. Jerome Blum [London: Thames and Hudson, 1982], 89.)


The Unwritten Constitution

The Unwritten ConstitutionThere are many who complain that big government is the root of all our problems. If we could but rid ourselves of its intrusive presence in our lives, things would be much better. Many complain about the effects of big government but few look at its cause.

Big government does not just happen. In fact, big government, where the State enters into every facet of society, should not happen.

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