Instead of Replacing Alexander Hamilton, Replace Federal Reserve Notes With Private Currency

The central bank folly.


A woman will be on the new $10 bill, bumping Alexander Hamilton aside. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says he will choose the woman by year's end, based on "input from the public." 

In one survey of the "public," the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, placed fourth. I understand the wish to counter sexism prevalent in early America, but "Mankiller?" The name alone probably reveals something about the attitude of some of those voters.

Fortunately, more voted for Harriet Tubman. Tubman escaped slavery to become a leader of the Underground Railroad, then repeatedly returned to slave territory to help others escape. Tubman would be a good choice. What's more libertarian than helping people escape slavery and resist being governed without their consent? 

But I feel bad about Alexander Hamilton. 

He was courageous in the American Revolution, co-wrote the Federalist Papers that defended the new Constitution and helped put the new republic on a sound financial footing when it was deep in debt. He was a poor immigrant with an absent father who rose to advise George Washington and become one of the most important men in the nation. 

Hamilton was also decent and fair-minded enough to singlehandedly stop a mob when it threatened to harm an unarmed Tory. In his spare time, he founded the newspaper New York Post, now headquartered a few floors below my office. 

Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow, who opposes demoting Hamilton, argues that "Hamilton was undeniably the most influential person in our history who never attained the presidency."

Before the talk of replacing Hamilton, the movement to put a woman on U.S. currency targeted the $20 bill. That would be a better choice. Andrew Jackson was a violent man who ignored a Supreme Court ruling and killed thousands of Indians by forcing them off their land. But the government says it's not ready to replace the $20 bill.

Jackson opposed central banking, founded in the U.S. by Hamilton. So maybe there's poetic justice in Hamilton getting pushed aside by the central currency-printing bureaucracy he helped create. 

But none of us would have to fight about whom to put on currency if it weren't all created and printed by a central government. Bitcoin is private currency that comes in many forms. People who prefer dogs as the symbol of their money can even use the digital currency Dogecoin. 

Private currencies aren't just a 21st-century novelty. Numerous banks used to print their own competing currencies. Contrary to the claims of John Kenneth Galbraith and other left-wing economists, private competition tended to prevent runaway inflation and deep depressions. 

Economist Thomas Hogan writes, "There were 1,600 private corporations issuing banknotes and an estimated 8,370 varieties of notes" in the 19th century, while the U.S. economy "grew at an average rate of 4.4 percent per year [and] the price level remained roughly constant."

The central bank known as the Federal Reserve was supposed to provide greater stability, but it didn't. Just 16 years after the U.S. created the Fed, the Great Depression began. And since then, the U.S. dollar lost 96 percent of its value.

Since government can't run the rest of the economy wisely, why let it be in charge of money itself? 

The money printing that central banks love—to pay government's bills and try to trick, er, stimulate the economy into greater activity—isn't real wealth creation. It just means more pieces of paper float around representing the same amount of wealth. It distorts markets, creating things like housing bubbles, and eventually it will mean inflation. It also lets politicians think they can ignore our debt ($18 trillion and counting) and keep spending. 

Let private currencies compete and not only will we be on firmer ground financially, but also everybody will be free to choose whether they want to use Tubmans, Hamiltons or Mankillers to pay their bills. 

Some people want Eleanor Roosevelt. Some want Ayn Rand. A movement on Twitter wants Caitlyn Jenner on their money. 

Great! Go for it. If we had private, competing currencies, all these options could coexist. Choice is always better than the government's one-size-fits-all solution.


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  1. this x1000000

    Free banking and currency competition is not only the best system, but more importantly, is the only ethical one.

    1. Ethical R&D –

      And PayPal for those not yet convinced.

  2. this x1000000

    Free banking and currency competition is not only the best system, but more importantly, is the only ethical one.

    1. my first squirrel attack. Be kind

      1. *spits on hands and grabs paddle*

        1. could’ve been worse*


      2. You god damn double clicker.

  3. This is just lazy. You can’t submit economic cycles as evidence against the Fed (your comment about the Great Depression) without comparing economic cycles w/o a central financial system, or projected economic cycles w/ hundreds of currencies. Well, you can, but it shows the author cares less about persuasion and more about rhetorical tricks designed to provide speaking points for those who already agree w/ him/her.

    1. But the Fed was designed to smooth out the economic cycles – and soon after its creation we had the Great Depression. Not the Not-As-Bad-As-It-Could-Have-Been Depression, the Great Depression. When you go to the doctor to cure your ills and the doctor prescribes medicine he says will make you much better but it instead makes your illness worse, it’s not a good argument to say that without the medicine your illness would have gotten even iller.

      1. It started much sooner. Look at this graph of inflation. Notice how inflation ramps up during wars and deflates right after, every time, until …. WW I.

        The new Fed’s primary goal after WW I was to stop the deflation.

      2. This is where TDil argues that it could’ve been worse, but louder than before.

    2. I think stossels point is the Fed was suppose to stabalize the market and 16 years later it failed at that job. So if it doesn’t work as intended there is no reason (drink?) to keep it.

      1. Sorry Jer, I wasn’t trying to bite, I’m just slow on the refresh.

      2. Even entire government agencies fail upwards, it seems.

      3. But without the federal reserve large national banks that make poor investments would go bankrupt, the federal government would have to manage to get by with the revenues it collected and there would be no grossly over-compensated positions for Keynesian economists .

    1. Notice the “COPYRIGHT 2015 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.” at the bottom. That’s John Fucking Stossel to you, mister.

  4. He’s just trying to sell you his oversize novelty Stossel Bucks.

    1. accepted everywhere that has a mustache.

    2. Cash value 1/100 of a cent

  5. When I was a kid I visited the san jacinto monument (a lot, because it was close to home) and I purchased from the gift shop confederate currency.

    That’s when I discovered that alternative currencies sound nice, but it only works if someone else is willing to exchange them for value. (I was brokenhearted when I realized that my new currency was not accepted as a form of payment at the gift shop I had just bought it from…)

    1. That’s when I discovered that alternative currencies sound nice, but it only works if someone else is willing to exchange them for value.

      Well, that doesn’t just apply to ‘alternative currencies’ (they’re only alternative if you assume only a single government currency is the baseline).

      *All* currencies only work if someone else is willing to value them for exchange. See the Zimbabwe currency, for example. Or the Thai Baht during the 90’s – legitimate government, no particular economic crisis, but no one outside of Thailand would accept it in exchange for anything (not even money changers would take it with an outrageous markup).

      The Mexican Peso and the Canadienne (for some reason they follow the English tradition of adding an ‘e’ where it doesn’t belong) Loonie have real value inside the United States – Hell, Mexicans (at least near the border) want to be paid in dollars.

      1. yes. so even in global currency, the US dollar typically wins the market as the paper of choice.

        1. Sure. And if its good enough then alternative currencies will not get much of a foothold to challenge its dominance. So there’s no reason to ban them.

          And if the dollar sinks there’ll be other options available.

          And competition will keep the makers of the dollar on their toes if they want to keep that top spot.

          Mostly, other currencies win out over the dollar only in their own ‘no competition’ zones (ie, in the areas the issuing country has control over).

          There is, literally, no good reason existing to forbid alternative currencies.

          Hell, the US government doesn’t even *have* to have a currency. Like the post office, its a government function that the government *may* do, but is not one of its *duties to do*.

      2. money is a trade good, it has use to people and so has intrinsic value whether th government requires one to accept in payment of debt or not. Currency consists of notes which are redeemable for money. Today we live in a world without money, our currency has value solely because the government accepts it in payment for taxes and because courts will deem debt payed by the payment of legal tender currencies whether you think they are worth anything or not. This is fiat money , no instance of which has maintained its value for more than 50 years. The USA got rid of the last circulating money under kennedy when silver coins and certificates were withdrawn, so whereas we may manage to exceed 50 years it is quite unlikely we will make it to 100 years, or even 75 .

    2. When I was a kid I visited the san jacinto monument (a lot, because it was close to home) and I purchased from the gift shop confederate currency.


      If you don’t go and burn that money as soon as you get home today, then you’re in league with Dylan Roof.

  6. A woman will be on the new $10 bill, bumping Alexander Hamilton aside.

    Good. Hamilton was a dick.

    For Mr Burr.

  7. I have a sensible idea. Let’s put the rebel flag on the 10 dollar bill!

    /runs from Internet

    1. Put Judah Benjamin on there, nobody could say a thing.

      1. A Jew on a banknote? I can think of some people that would have a problem with that.

        1. Right, but they couldn’t say it out loud.

  8. Let’s put the rebel flag on the 10 dollar bill!

    As the background of the portrait of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

    1. Wooooo!
      *fires 36 cal navy revolver in air*

      1. Better to fire a LeMat — more shots, more tradition.

        1. I always liked the navy colt. I’ve thought about buying one but I don’t really want to get into another expensive hobby.

          1. If you want a good black powder revolver, get the Remington New Model Army. Much easier to clean and load. Colts have that damned wedge holding the barrel on, but it’s a lousy design. The Remington has a pin to remove and the cylinder falls out.

            The LeMat replica I have is a fine gun except for loading. The ram arm on the Colt and Remington swings a good 30-45 degrees before touching the ball, meaning you get full leverage when you need it. The LeMat hits the ball almost before the ram arm even clears the barrel, making it awkward to apply force.

            But the LeMat has 9 chambers + that shotgun, and is a good heavy revolver, steady as you could want. And it’s really impressive.

  9. Ha! Ayn Rand. Watch Tony’s head explode. That’d be fun.

    1. Ayn Rand on evil government fiat money!!??

      1. what if it was a moving image that when you looked at it one way it was Ayn Rand holding the world on her shoulders, and as you moved it the imaged changed to her shrugging it off…

        Too on the nose?

        1. So long as it isn’t her in a three way with O’Connor and Branden…

          1. that would be hidden in the details.

            1. You have to fold the bill just right.

              1. like mad magazine!

  10. Can we have something a little easier on the eye than Janet Yellin’s doughy visage as an illustration?
    You know, like Jared Loughner’s booking photo?

      1. Lana Del Ray is already on US currency.…..4iox3t.png

  11. Mrs Thurston Howell III.

    1. Yes – We could call $10 bills “Lovies”.

  12. You know what I love about Stossel’s articles?

    It’s as if he’s always just discovered libertarianism last week and is filled with the naive enthusiasm of a recent convert.

    1. Its amazing how these on-camera people can project such enthusiasm. I obviously can’t speak for Stossel’s level of enthusiasm with regard to libertarianism but note: he is a ‘came to Jesus’ convert from progressivism.

      As an example – I watched Bethesda’s E3 presentation and they had a couple of ‘anchors’ (a man and a woman) and while I’m 100% certain that neither of them really gave a shit about videogames, let alone Bethesda’s upcoming titles, you’d never be able to tell by their on-camera performance.

      The details of their talking were such that either they really were huge fans of Bethesda or their level of professionalism was such that they did a great job of background research and rehearsing.

  13. Janet Yellen is like super-hot for an old hobbit.

  14. Just for the comic value, I’d like to see the Koch brothers on our currency. Watching the proggies bust out in head-exploding conniption fits on social media would be heavenly.

  15. I vote Scarlet Johansen

  16. I really doubt very many people picked Wilma Mankiller because of any feminist associations of her name. I figure they probably just wanted a Cherokee because they were still hoping they could replace Jackson instead.

  17. Correction: they are not removing Ham, just adding a lady to keep him company.

    1. I hope it’s Maria Reynolds

  18. Our currency already looks like worthless monopoly money. Replacing Hamilton’s face with a yet another shoe horned in woman’s face on our money won’t change that. Our money used to look so beautiful before they turned it into a worthless piece of cloth with yet another founding father on it. I would much prefer women that used to be on our money, like Columbia and Minerva.

  19. Nah, I would rather endlessly debate a flag than the multitude of things our government does everyday that actually impact our economic well-being.

  20. I thought Barbara Bush was already on the $ 1 bill.

    1. Hilarious

  21. Yea and I’ll bet putting a black woman on our money will just magically make all the bad feel feels go away. Everybody will hold hands and skip merrily down main street. Gold will fall from the heavens and fish will jump in the boat proclaiming, “Eat me, good master!”

    It’s amazing what useless shit is capable of.

  22. What undeserving moron female will be placed on the ten over Hamilton?

  23. “Numerous banks used to print their own competing currencies…”

    Not just in the U.S., either. Canada had ’em until ~1933. Check these out:…..sacat=3425

  24. You don’t seem to realize that the Fed is not run by the government. It already is a private corporation that used its influence to force its existence through the legislative process.

  25. How has the dollar, and the quarters, dismes, nickels and half dollars that contained 90% silver at one time compared to the purchasing power retained by the current dollar?

    Let’s take quarters. If someone was paid four quarters for every dollar, their purchasing power would equal to 2.87 per quarter. 2.87 x 4 = $11.48 for every dollar.

    So a salary of $42,000 today would equal $482,160 of purchasing power!!

    Someone making $100,000, their purchasing power would be $1,148,000.

    Someone in poverty making $11,200 would have a purchasing power of $128,576.

    Sorry, but this monetary system and the central bank colluding with gov’t has debased the currency, and robbed the people beyond belief.

    How anyone could support money backed by force of legal tender law over free individuals utilizing the best media of exchange of their choice is asinine.

    Gov’t and the central banks haven’t made anyone better off over the years. Folks would be writing earlier, and after over 18 trillion in debt, there would be no poverty, and all would have a home and a fancy car in the driveway. But only if there were the right folks in there and there was more money could they get it right.

    1. Just a note, quarters 1964 and prior contained 90% silver. The Morgan and peace dollars would be worth $12.27 each based upon the weight of silver within.

  26. If we had private, competing currencies, all these options could coexist. Choice is always better than the government’s one-size-fits-all solution.


    Tell me, will shopkeepers and banks be obliged to accept ALL private currencies or (as is currently the case with credit/debit cards) only certain ones?

    After all, unless you are a large corporation most private currencies are likely to be severely local, especially at first. Therefore the currency you use to pay for the groceries in Seattle is not likely to be available in New York. Therefore any change you get when you pay a bill there will likely be in some other (New Yorkian) currency. Assuming New Yorkers accept Seattle currencies at all!


    Moreover, will these currencies be subject to changes in value against one another (as happens with foreign currencies against the US dollar) or will they always have the same value? In which case, just how many Google sovereigns will there be to (say) a Comcast peso?

    This is going to matter if, in a not unlikely scenario, a person will pay a bill in one currency and get their change in another. How will they (and the shopkeeper) know they got/gave the right change? Will we all be obliged to carry currency conversion apps in our iPhones?

    And suppose your Seattle dollars are not accepted by New York shopkeepers? Will we expect to see a proliferation off currency conversion booths which a Seattle visitor will need to visit first before they go for a ride on the New York subway or buy a copy of the New York Times?


    And that is not even the half of it. Most private bank notes are not likely to have all the antticounterfeiting features the US government can afford to insert into their own notes. Ergo, a proliferation of private currencies will surely stimulate another all-American industry: counterfeiting. What a boon that would be to the economy!

    Then there is the issue of who can issue such currencies. Can only US firms issue private currencies or will foreign firms operating in the US be allowed to do so as well? That wasn’t an issue in the 19th century, but it may be one today.

    Further, if AMERICAN private currencies are allowed then given the likely approval of the TPP and the TTIP free trade agreements, the US would (presumably) be obliged to allow in FOREIGN private currencies as well. That is to say, currencies previously operating only in overseas countries rather than inside the US.

    If that happens, that will raise the question of what about foreign NON-private currencies like the EU’s Euro, the Japanese yen, and the Chinese yuan? Will be allowed to operate in the US as well?

    After all, it’s all about choice, right? “Choice is always better”, right?


    Then there’s the issue of takeovers. If one corporation can takeover another, then it would presumably be legal for one private (or non-private foreign) currency to take over another.

    Having LOTS of private currencies, but it also good for chaos and the bookkeeping industry (which will need to keep track of them all). Just as small businesses get swallowed up by larger ones which offer better economies of scale, so one can foresee a scenario when many of these private currencies will be swallowed up by others as the private currency industry is “rationalised” from a proliferation of currencies into a few large ones.

    In other words, the possibility exists that some day there may again just be one currency in the US. A single private currency.

    After all, what small or medium-sized firm will have either the capital or resources to issue paper money on a nation-wide scale? That inability is likely to doom all save a handful of major players in the private currency industry. Most people, I suspect, will want a currency which works in every part of the country, not just their local area of state, which was the way it was back in the 19th century.


    One final point. In a sense private currencies already exist in the US. They are called credit cards. For the most part they can be used anywhere cash can be used. Why would anyone go to the trouble printing paper money or minting coins when it would be cheaper and easier for them to simply issue each user with a single plastic card?

    1. Wow. I don’t want to be forced to accept a media of exchange against my will. For someone posting all these notes, you forgot to add that gold has a 6,000 year history as money. Counterfeiting detection is way more advanced, but even back then fakes were rooted out when it came to coin. The central banks counterfeit every day, so your worries about private folks doing it is nonsensical.

      All this worry about private institutions counterfeiting and so on….but you forgot the biggest thieves and counterfeiters ever. That being gov’t and the central banks. In the aforementioned simple example, your desire for continued debauchery and control by gov’t and the central banks isn’t realistic, nor does it respect individual liberty.

      1. I don’t want to be forced to accept a media of exchange against my will.You do realise that that’s the way the world has ALWAYS worked and the way it works right now. Get used to it.

        Moreover, even with private currencies in the US if you travel overseas you largely still be required to use whatever the national currency is any country you visit whether you like it or not.

        Counterfeiting detection is way more advanced…

        Those features require bank notes to made of special materials (which are not easily oibtained,and therefore not easily obtained by counterfeiters) and be printed with special dyes with special machinery. Small-time private currencies will not be able to afford them. That in turnwill favour currency consolidation and monopolisation, which will turn will degrade the very thing (choice) which the author of the article saw as private currencies’ greatest virtue.

        All this worry about private institutions counterfeiting

        Where did I state that?

        What I DID write was that many private currencies would not be able to afford the ANTI-counterfeiting measures that existing US bank notes have.

  31. Abolish the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and all bank regulations except one; require full disclosure on full or fractional reserve backing of deposits.

    Treat gold, silver and cryptocurrencies as legal tender (not as an asset) for tax purposes.

    1. Tax purposes? Lol. If it isn’t voluntary services paid for through exchanges free from force, theft or coercion then it shouldn’t be. Gov’t is a failed experiment, and central banking along with it too.

      1. If government is a “failed experiment” what do you propose to replace it with?

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