What Would Benjamin Franklin Say Today: A Warning to America

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

Today is Ben Franklin’s 307th birthday.

What would this founding father extraordinaire, the first scientific American and financial guru say about America in 2013?

As a sixth-generation grandson of the famous man, I imagined contacting the grandfather of our nation through modern technology and asking him directly.

Here are my questions and his responses:

SKOUSEN: Hello, Dr. Franklin, are you there?

DR. FRANKLIN: Yes, I am here. I pray you may forgive my lateness, as I was engaged in some important business in another galaxy. Space travel is most agreeable in the world of spirits!

SKOUSEN: Dr. Franklin, happy 307th birthday! We are delighted to have you as our guest to answer some questions.

FRANKLIN: I’m honored. Let’s get started. Time is money! What is your first question?

SKOUSEN: Thanks, Dr. Franklin. Our first question is, how do you feel about being on the $100 bill?

DR. FRANKLIN: Oh! It does indeed please my vanity to be 100 times more valuable than the father of our nation, my good friend Gen. Washington!

SKOUSEN: Speaking of Gen. Washington, I see that recently you and Gen. Washington were voted among the top five greatest Americans of all time. How does it feel to be a celebrity?

DR. FRANKIN: To be perfectly honest, I am perfectly sick of it! When I was minister to France, besides being harassed with too much business, I was exposed to numerous visits, some of kindness and civility, but many of mere idle curiosity. These devoured my hours, and broke my attention, and at night I often found myself fatigued without having done anything. I sometimes feel the same way here in the world of spirits, with a constant stream of visitors and relatives I never knew I had!

SKOUSEN: Are you concerned about inflation and the declining value of the $100 bill?

DR. FRANKLIN: In life nothing is certain but death and taxes, but now I see I must add inflation to the list. With your constant inflation, it seems I become more popular every day, and now my face is as well-known as the moon. My only fear is that your government will soon abandon banknotes entirely in favor a cashless society, leaving the greatest nation in the world with no daily reminder of its most famous philosopher!

SKOUSEN: Many experts blame our central bank, the Federal Reserve, for the constant depreciation of our currency. Should the Fed go back on a gold standard to return discipline to our government and to stop the inflation?

DR. FRANKLIN: I favor a hard currency with considerable flexibility according to commerce. Because of our lack of sufficient quantity of hard money in our country, I published a pamphlet in Philadelphia favoring paper money in moderate quantities, and found it to be highly beneficial to commerce. But during the Revolutionary War, the public demanded more than was necessary because they were not willing to pay their taxes. The Continental dollar depreciated rapidly and hurt our credit both here and abroad, and I often was unable to sleep at night because of the financial distress.

SKOUSEN: What do you think of the nation’s huge deficits, the tax increases, big government, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Great Recession, the Patriot Act, CEO scandals, gun violence and a collapsing dollar?

DR. FRANKLIN: Stop! Stop! I see nothing has changed since I left this sad world over 200 years ago. Upon my return from France, I saw in the public papers frequent complaints of hard times, etc. There can be no country in which there are not some sort of troubles. And it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamor. So my advice to you is to take a cool view of the general state of affairs, and perhaps the prospects will appear less gloomy than you have imagined.

SKOUSEN: So you are still an optimist about the future of the United States?

DR. FRANKLIN: Long ago I said that with God’s blessing, America is destined to become a great and happy country. I still believe this. When I see the extravagant rejoicing every 4th of July, the day on which we signed the Declaration of Independence, thereby hazarding our lives and fortunes, I am convinced of the universal satisfaction of the people with the revolution and its grand principles. No nation has ever enjoyed a greater share of human felicity.

SKOUSEN: Aren’t you worried about another crash or depression around the corner, with all these debts piling up?

DR. FRANKLIN: There are always croakers, as we called them, who are predicting ruin. When I lived in Philadelphia, one such elderly man who had a wise and grave manner came frequently by my door at the printing house to give me a detail of misfortunes and bankruptcies, and to predict that all was going to destruction, and that I should sell all my real estate and business, etc. etc. Fortunately, I ignored him, and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him pay five times as much for one piece of land as he might have bought when he first began his croaking.

SKOUSEN: But what if you are wrong, and we are hit with a great depression, or war? We live in uncertain times. How can we protect ourselves?

DR. FRANKLIN: Poor Richard always says, “An empty bag cannot stand.” I always made it a policy to live simply and frugally, so that by my economy I was able to build up substantial savings and investments. This policy proved favorable to me during the American Revolution. In 1774, a great source of my income was cut off when I was dismissed by the Crown as postmaster general and colonial agent, and I lost £1,800 a year in income. But my family and I survived because I had bank accounts in three countries, some bonds and stocks and income properties.

Special Announcement: “The Completed Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin” (1757-90), as well as the original “Autobiography” (1706-57), are available in a handsome paperback edition directly from Eagle Publishing by calling 1-800/211-7661. The prices are only $19.95 each, or $35.71 together, plus $5 for shipping and handling for each book. When ordering, mention code AUTOS3.

As a special gift to all Skousen CAFÉ subscribers, I will autograph each copy and add a rare Franklin stamp. This offer is only available through Eagle Publishing.

“You Blew It!” U.S. Subsidizes Hate Speech by Radical Jihadists

For the past week, I’ve been in Israel on a fact-finding tour with Sen. Rand Paul. It was his first visit there and my third. Sen. Paul is a new member of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, so he got first-class treatment, meeting privately with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the mayor of Jerusalem and the King of Jordan.

Sen. Paul told me that his big objection to foreign aid to Israel (other than we can’t afford it anymore, given our huge national debt) is that it is leading to an arms race. “If the U.S. gives 20 F-16 fighter planes to Egypt, Israel then feels it needs to buy 25.”

A fellow tourist asked me, “What one thing did you take away from your trip to Israel?” Among others, I was shocked to learn that the United States gives more aid to Israel’s neighbors than to Israel. We taxpayers are subsidizing the hate propaganda put out by the radical Palestinians about America.

Sen. Paul gradually wants to reduce and eventually eliminate foreign aid to Israel and the Palestinians, but his bill has no chance of passage due to the argument that giving money to both sides creates a “balance of power.” It’s madness.

Maybe if Sen. Paul becomes president someday, he can stop this madness. He has a good chance. He is always thoughtful and more of a practical politician (less ideological) than his father, Congressman Ron Paul (now retired), and that’s why he is going places. Rand Paul is a senator, not just a representative, and a potential pro-libertarian presidential candidate who actually could win.

On the tour, I was asked about my newsletter, and one of the other tourists sitting a few seats away turned around and said, “I am a subscriber and Mark is the only newsletter that makes me money.” Nice comment. I just hope I can live up to it in the future!

To read my e-letter from last week, please click here. I also invite you to comment about my column in the space provided below.

Upcoming Appearances

• We’ve received a rush of sign-ups for our anti-Davos Global Financial Summit, Feb. 6-9, at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. The fear of sharply higher tax rates and inflation is upon us! More than 100 investors have signed up already, and we can only accommodate 200 attendees at this private affair. Come join Steve Moore, Peter Schiff, John Browne, Jeffrey Saut, Martin Truax, Richard Rahn, Joel Stern, Peter Zipper, a host of other experts and me. Call Tami Holland at 1-866/266-5101, or go to www.freedomfest.com/gfs. It’s better in the Bahamas.

• You can’t afford to miss this beginning of the year check-up for your portfolio. Thousands of investors, like you, will be there seeking advice and trend information from world-renowned experts. Don’t miss the world’s largest investor and trader gathering — The World MoneyShow Orlando, January 30-February 2, 2013 at the Gaylord Palms Resort. Be there as I join other speakers in offering advice for how best to position your portfolio to profit in 2013 and beyond. You can register free today by calling 1-800/970-4355 and mentioning priority code 029596 or by clicking here!

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Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

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