SPECIAL REPORT—1975 MONETARY CONFERENCE
Frontlines correspondent Robert Poole, Jr. reports:
From Thursday evening, March 13 through Sunday, March 16, approximately 970 people gathered at the Fairmont-Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans for what turned out to be the largest conference of its kind ever held. The event was the 1975 Conference on International Liquidity and Monetary Reform, sponsored by the National Committee for Monetary Reform (formerly the National Committee to Legalize Gold). Although officially sponsored by the Committee, the Conference was in fact a joint effort with the Libertarian Party, aimed at raising funds for both organizations and exposing the attendees to libertarian ideas. In both respects the Conference must be rated a considerable success.
The Conference sessions began on Friday morning and continued all day Friday and Saturday, presenting some 25 high-powered speakers over the course of four sessions. Sunday was given over to specialized workshops—on South African gold stocks, Canadian golds, silver trading, Swiss banks, offshore banking and tax havens, counterfeit coins, etc. An exhibit room outside the main meeting room provided table after table of books, investment newsletters, freeze-dried foods (and even counterfeit gold bars) on sale by the inevitable army of capitalist entrepreneurs.
The list of speakers reads like a who's who of hard-money free market advocates and spokesmen: Dr. Harry Schultz, Dr. Anthony Boeckh of the Bank Credit Analyst, Robert Bleiberg of Barron's, Donald Hoppe, Alexander Paris, Jerome Smith of Economic Research Counselors, John Kamin (editor of The Forecaster), John Exter, Rene Baxter, Thomas J. Holt, C. Vern Myers, James Sinclair, Gary North, Henry Mark Holzer, Walter Perschke, Norman Lamb, Dennis Turner, and many others.
The general emphasis of the speakers was, understandably, "gloom and doom," with differences principally on matters of timing and detail. There were differences of opinion regarding the near-term outlook, with most expecting a resumption of high inflation rates relatively soon (although Vern Myers stated flatly that we are now in a period of sustained deflation). Among the more sophisticated analyses, supported by extensive charts and graphs, were those of Dr. Boeckh and Donald Hoppe. Boeckh expects the next round of inflation to be massive, and pointed out that the economy is in very poor shape to withstand it. In particular he thinks the corporate sector is in worse shape than in 1929 and is slowly going bankrupt by eating up its capital to maintain dividend payments. Hoppe focused on the various market cycles, illustrating the longest-term cycle of 54-year peaks in inflation rates (e.g. 1865, 1920, and 1974) and comparing the current rise to the earlier ones (so far, this one is less severe, percentagewise). Hoppe expects no runaway inflation, but does predict a severe world depression by 1978-79.
Dr. Harry Schultz explained (via tape from Amsterdam) his short-term bearishness on gold, but pointed out that he still expects gold to reach $250-260 by year-end, and to continue generally bullish over the next several years. Rene Baxter and Jerome Smith both expect a rapid resumption of inflation, because of the strong political pressures created by unemployment programs, welfare, and the like. Baxter suggested avoiding dollars altogether, using Swiss franc banknotes (obtained from your local bank) for short-term cash storage. John Kamin emphasized various nontraditional investments as good inflation-beaters, such as lower-priced classic cars (e.g. 1960's Lincoln four-door convertibles), player pianos, antique guns, etc. Kamin suggested that the principal reason that interest rates are being forced down at present is to permit the Federal Government to get the lowest rates on the borrowing necessary to finance its huge upcoming deficits. One of the few bullish observers was Robert Bleiberg, who (partly because of Dow Theory signals and partly because of Contrary Opinion) expects a short-term bull market, not a depression.
The highlight of the Conference was the Saturday night banquet. The keynote speakers were Roger MacBride of the Libertarian Party and William Rees-Mogg, editor-in-chief of the London Times. MacBride made a well-reasoned case that economic and individual freedom are no longer important to either the Republicans or the Democrats, and offered the Libertarian Party as a viable alternative. Rees-Mogg discussed the soaring inflation in England, stressing the disastrous social consequences (noting that a 20 percent rate of inflation is about four times as harmful as a 10 percent rate). He traced German antisemitism in the 1920's and 1930's partly to the class hatreds and scapegoating inspired by runaway inflation, and noted the same kind of hatreds developing today in England. He then stated that throughout history no society using a gold-based currency had a serious inflation problem, while every society using paper money eventually did. He also cited examples of price stability during U.S. and English gold-standard periods, and concluded by deflating all of the common arguments against a return to gold. Rees-Mogg was given a standing ovation at the conclusion of his talk.
As mentioned, the Conference provided considerable opportunity for exposure of the participants to libertarianism. The Libertarian Party maintained a hospitality suite every evening, with free drinks and articulate LP members on hand. Every place at the banquet was provided with a folder from the LP containing a letter from National Chairman Ed Crane, various LP brochures and pamphlets, and a reprint of Roger MacBride's article "Happy Days Are Here Again" from the January 1975 REASON. Hundreds of participants sported buttons saying "Laissez-Faire," "MacBride in '76," and similar slogans. And a number of the speakers identified themselves with the libertarian point of view and advocated such policies as deregulation of industry and repeal of income taxes, in addition to the usual goals of sound money and balanced budgets.
In short, it was a monetary conference with real ideological zing. How many gold bugs came away from the event as confirmed libertarians is difficult to assess. But at the very least, a great many people had their thinking stimulated in a very positive way.
The Association of Libertarian Feminists has been founded to bring the libertarian viewpoint into the feminist movement. Toni Nathan, 1972 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential candidate has formed the ALF for the purpose of providing speakers for feminist groups, to introduce them to libertarianism—and to introduce libertarians to feminism. Local ALF's are also being encouraged to organize to bring together feminists and libertarians in local areas. The Statement of Purpose of the ALF stresses the following purposes: To encourage women to become economically self-sufficient and psychologically independent; to provide an alternative to those women's groups which encourage dependence and collectivism; to promote realistic and factual attitudes toward female competence and achievement; and to oppose unjust legal discrimination against all individuals.
The ALF is working with the newly- formed Libertarian Party Speakers Bureau and has six libertarian feminist speakers lined up. They are Lynn Kinsky, editor of REASON, LP state and national Execom member, and former candidate for school board in Santa Barbara, CA [see "Frontlines," March & May 1975]; Susan Love Brown, LP of California Southern State Vice-Chairperson, coauthor of The Incredible Bread Machine, and staff member of the Campus Studies Institute in San Diego, CA; Kay Harroff, former LP-independent candidate for U.S. Senator from Ohio in 1974; Sharon Presley, long-time libertarian-feminist activist, co-owner of Laissez Faire Books in New York and LF Review editor, and associate editor of Free Life Editions publishing company; Fran Youngstein, 1973 LP candidate for mayor of New York City, and LP national execom member; and Ms. Nathan herself.
Those interested in the ALF should write to Ms. Nathan at P.O. Box 10151, Eugene, OR 97401 (phone 503-484-1202). Those who want to obtain libertarian-feminist speakers for local libertarian, feminist, or other groups should write to the LP Speakers Bureau at 550 Kearny St., San Francisco, CA 94108 (phone: 415-986-1834).
On March 22-23 the Libertarian Party of California State Executive Committee met in Santa Barbara to decide the party's main political tactics for the year. After heated debate on the subject, the Execom voted to put the main emphasis on a ballot initiative drive to have the words, None of the Above, placed on every election ballot in the state. An alternative resolution to put the main emphasis on a voter registration drive to attain ballot status for the LPC failed. The drive, if approved, would have meant a goal of 61,000 people registered as Libertarians by January 1, 1976. The main arguments against the drive were that the LP did not have the strength (in money or present membership) to come anywhere near the goal, and that even if they could get on the ballot now they would no longer be able to require "purity" of members and candidates (in California, once a party gets on the ballot, anyone may join and be a candidate without restrictions).
A few months ago, a bill was introduced into the California legislature to place None of the Above on election ballots, but with no effect on the election outcome (i.e., the top candidate, even if beaten by None of the Above, would be elected). Although this bill was recently approved by the appropriate committee, it is given little chance of passage in the Legislature. The idea has generated a lot of vocal support from all over the political spectrum, however. The LP initiative would specify either leaving the office vacant or having a special election if None won. Attorney Dave Bergland is putting together the proposal, and will decide which of the two (special election or vacancy) is most compatible with current election laws. If the initiative can be implemented by changing a statute, it will require 315,000 signatures to get it on the ballot as a Proposition; if it requires a constitutional amendment, 505,000 signatures will be needed. Many nonlibertarian groups have pledged support for the initiative, and the drive is expected to bring a lot of new members into the LPC. The drive is expected to start in July, and a total of five months are allowed for circulation of the petitions. If successful, it would place the proposal on the June 1976 primary ballot and would, if passed, take effect in time for the November 1976 general election in California.
Anyone who is interested in the initiative drive should contact Dave Bergland, 6832 Silver Beach Circle, Huntington Beach, CA 92642. For further information on the LPC write to P.O. Box 71383, Los Angeles, CA 90071 or phone 213-345-FREE.
THE ECONOMY IN CRISIS
"The Economy in Crisis: Analysis and Forecast" will be the theme of the first Monex International sponsored educational symposium according to Dr. Patrick M. Boarman, Monex Research Director and symposium coordinator. (Monex is a firm specializing in the purchase and sale of precious metals and foreign currencies.) The symposium will take place June 15-17, 1975, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
The symposium will bring together nationally known speakers from business, government, and universities who will analyze the current economic crisis both here and abroad. Leading economists and financial advisors will examine investment opportunities in the light of the conditions that will be prevailing at mid-year. Late word has been received that the President Gerald Ford, who has been invited, may be able to appear or that he will be represented by a major Administration figure.
Others speakers will include, Dr. Friederich von Hayek, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, 1974; Dr. Hans Sennholz, Professor of Economics, Grove City College, Pennsylvania; Dr. Neil Jacoby of the Graduate School of Management, University of California at Los Angeles; Wesley Hillendahl, Vice President for Research, Bank of Hawaii; Congressman Philip Crane of Illinois and Congressman Jack Kemp of New York.
Also speaking will be Leonard Silk, economist and member of the Editorial Board, The New York Times; Robert Bleiberg, Editor, Barron's; M. Stanton Evans, Editor, Indianapolis News; Professor Larry Kimbell, director of the business forecast team. University of California at Los Angeles; Ed Hart, prominent West Coast financial analyst; and Donald McLaughlin, Homestake Mining Company.
For further information contact Monex International, Ltd., 4910 Birch St., Newport Beach, CA 92660, phone 714-752-1400.
Frontlines correspondent Mary Joyner reports:
The first convention of the Tennessee Libertarian Party was held in Nashville on March 22 and 23 at the Holiday Inn East. The purpose of the convention was to discuss, amend and vote on the Party platform and by-laws and to elect officers for 1975. The Party affiliated with the National Libertarian Party last fall.
At the election the temporary chairman, Jim Forrester—the man responsible for founding the Party—was elected chairman. Three vice chairmen were elected, one to serve in each of the natural districts of the state: Bob Williams for west Tennessee, Roger Bissell for middle and Clinton Anderson for east. Also elected were delegates to go to the National Party Convention in late August.
The primary aim of the Party at this time is to influence the state legislature, but the longer range goal is to elect Libertarians to the legislature and to national offices.
The speaker at the banquet was Roger MacBride, who presented the group with a German stock certificate from 1923. His speech was about working harder and in more ways to prevent German-style hyperinflation from happening in the United States.
Informally, many topics were discussed; among them, how to get people who are personally and philosophically nonorganization types to join and create an effective organization in a country where only large organizations are able to get attention. Most agreed we need the organization, but.…And there the problem remains!
Prospective members may get information by writing to Tennessee Libertarian Party, P.O. Box 18165, Memphis, TN 38118.
Please send material for inclusion in FRONTLINES to Lynn Kinsky at REASON, P.O. Box 6151, Santa Barbara, CA 93111. Meeting and activity announcements will be carried as space permits; however we must receive announcements two months before the actual event if we are to publish it as a "coming attraction" rather than as history. Tell us about your group, your activities, your strategies for social change in as much detail as possible. Items accompanied by photos are especially welcome.