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EURASIA (chapter4)

2006-09-08 21:01

    CHAPTER IV.

    THE BANK OF .

    Leaving the prison, I returned to the Capitol and, calling at the Department of Finance, was given a copy of the laws governing it, and learned that it operated under the name of the Bank of , with headquarters in the capital, having a branch in every district and in every town of one thousand inhabitants or more. It paid out all money owed by the Government and received and receipted for all taxes due, and accepted all deposits from one dollar upwards, and issued all banknotes and bills of exchange, and in consequence there were no panics and no necessity of issuing clearing-house certificates. To avoid the folly of locking up large amounts of money received for taxes each year on the one hand, or permitting stock-gamblers and money-sharks, on the other hand, to use it, each district was allowed by law to issue district banknotes of one dollar denomination, guaranteed by the Government, drawing two per cent. a year interest up to eighty per cent. of the yearly expenses of the district. The taxes were payable on the first day of November, and if not paid on that day a delinquent tax of ten per cent. The banknotes issued by the district were called in and canceled by this means, keeping the money of the people in circulation.

    Every branch bank in a district was required to send daily accounts of all money received and paid out to the central branch bank of the district, which in turn sent a daily account of all bank transactions in the district to the Bank of  at the capital. No district treasurers were required, nor treasurers in any department of the Government, but vouchers to be paid by the Government had to be signed and scaled by the proper authorities. The bank also conducted a National Lottery, with tickets for sale at every branch bank for one dollar per ticket; drawings monthly, and the highest prize drawn was five thousand dollars, and the lowest five dollars. Five per cent. of the gross proceeds going to the Government for the maintenance and education of orphan children. The amount received each month and the names of the prize winners was published in the National Gazette (a weekly paper), and a copy sent to every prize winner. This paper was published by the Government and every voter was free to subscribe for it without cost, but no advertisements were allowed in it. It published the work of every department of the Government and all bills approved by Parliament, and all laws recommended by the Parliament for whilst the Parliament could approve and legalize all Government expenditures, it could only recommend by a two-thirds vote the amending or creating of any acts pertaining to the Political, Civil and Penal Codes, which had to go before the people at the next general election, when they became the law of the land by a two-thirds vote of the qualified voters who took part in the election, and had a universal circulation, as the Government owned and operated all railways, telegraphs, teleposts, telephones, wireless telegraphy stations and levees, all water power, steamers and boats for freight and passenger service, and, in fact, all public utilities.

    Besides, the Government manufactured and sold all liquors, tobaccos, drugs, teas, salt, sugar, coals, petroleum, lumber, iron in pigs and steel in plates and bars. It is easy to see that the Bank of  transacted an immense volume of business daily.

    The bank coined gold in denominations of fifty dollars, twenty dollars, ten dollars and five dollars; silver in dollar, fifty and twenty-five-cent pieces; nickel in ten-cent and five-cent pieces, and aluminum in one-cent pieces. All money coined with ten per cent. alloy and at bullion value. The coinage was readjusted every ten years and silver, nickel and aluminum coins were exchangd for gold at their face value. The Government issued banknotes drawing two per cent. a year, and loaned money on land and on goods in the Government warehouses and conducted a fire insurance business, but no insurance was paid on any property that was insured in the building where the fire broke out, and on no buildings that were not fireproof. No life insurance was allowed and no corporation or individual was allowed to carry on an insurance business and no person was permitted to insure property or life in the country in any foreign corporation, and no stock exchanges or gambling in futures were allowed.

    The Bank of  published every month in the National Gazette the amount of money on hand, so that the people might know when it was necessary for the Government to make a new issue of banknotes, so as not to cripple the circulation.

    I was greatly, impressed with the reply of the Minister of Finance when I asked him why he published those statements, "We deal honestly with the people and they trust us." In answer to my question if there were any trusts in his country, he smiled and replied, "One trust: the People."

    Corporations are allowed, but no watered stock and every stockholder has the same vote in electing officers of the company, whether he holds one share or any other number of shares, and any conspiracy to corner the market or to enhance the price of any article produced or manufactured is punished as a felony, the penalty being five years at hard labor in prison.

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