October 9

Ep. 0035: A History of the US Dollar Part 4: Rise and Fall of Bretton Woods

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The Bretton Woods system, set up in 1944 as the framework for the international monetary order
  • The roots of the Great Inflation (c. mid-1960s-early-1980s) that would end Bretton Woods & any link between the US dollar and specie (gold & silver), including the rise of  the so-called “New Economists”, who pushed a Neo-Keynesian view that relied heavily on a model called the “Phillips Curve”  (BTW, the stagflation of the 1970s later proved that the Phillips Curve doesn’t always work)
  • How the Great Inflation came to be, looking across multiple decades & presidential administrations
  • The government’s responses to inflation, including de-monetizing silver in the mid-60s & ending the Bretton Woods ‘gold window’ in 1971
  • Some of the effects of inflation

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September 29

Ep. 0033: A History of the US Dollar Part 3: From Reconstruction Through the New Deal

Here it is, another installment in our non-consecutive mini-series on the tumultuous history of the United States Dollar.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • How hard money was eventually restored after the Civil War
  • The Mint Act of 1873 (called the “Crime of ’73” by its opponents)
  • The Populists’ (unsuccessful) challenge against the Gold Standard
  • The establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913 and its effect on US money
  • Inflation/devaluation during the First World War
  • The actions of Benjamin Strong (Head of the NY Fed) in the 1920s to help the British pound, moves which also caused the stock & real estate bubbles of the 1920s, which burst in 1929
  • The end of the gold standard, gold confiscation, and the devaluation of the US Dollar under FDR in the 1930s, and how this was actually one of the factors that led to the Second World War

External Links

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September 25

Ep. 0032: Uncle Sam vs Democracy, Part 2: Operation PB Success

Encouraged by their success against Iran’s democratic government (covered in last episode), the Dulles Brothers’ next move was against the small central American country of Guatemala, where a left-of-center government appeared to be threatening the interests of the United Fruit Company.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The immediate backstory on Guatemala, including the dominance of American corporations over the country, its democratic revolution in 1944 and the election of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman to the presidency in 1951
  • The Arbenz government’s Decree 900, aimed at redistributing unused land to poor peasants
  • The CIA’s Operation PB Success, a largely psychological campaign that succeeded in overthrowing Arbenz in June 1954
  • How the CIA itself, after ousting Arbenz, failed to find any real evidence that Arbenz was in league with the Soviets
  • The brutal aftermath of this coup, which caused suffering and oppression in Guatemala for decades and killed over 200,000 people
  • A brief thought experiment of how Americans might respond if they were put in an analogous situation
  • Some discussion of the concept known as “blowback”

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September 22

Ep. 0031: Uncle Sam vs. Democracy Part 1: Operation Ajax

In this episode and the next, we’re going to look at two instances in the early Cold War of American-sponsored and -instigated overthrows of democratically elected governments, and their replacement by unpopular, USA-backed dictatorships.  Of course, I’m talking about Iran and Guatemala in the early-1950s.  This episode will set the context and cover Iran.  Next time we’ll cover Guatemala and consequences of these sorts of operations.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • A quick sketch of the Dulles Brothers (John Foster & Allen) who played such key roles in these sorts of operations in the 1950s
  • A look at the historical context (ie, early Cold War)
  • A sketch of Iranian PM Mohammed Mossadegh, and why the Dulles Bros (and the corporate interests they served) wanted him overthrown
  • How the CIA overthrew Mossadegh and replaced him with Shah Reza Pahlavi
  • The aftermath of this operation and its legacy, which is still being felt today

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September 4

Ep. 0026: A History of the US Dollar Part 2

We continue with our non-consecutive mini-series on the history of the US dollar, which has changed repeatedly over the centuries.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • How, in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War Continental Dollar inflation, most of the Founding Fathers were soured on paper money, and took the opportunity of writing a new Constitution to reinstate a hard money (specie) standard
  • The loopholes that remained within the system even after hard money was written into the Constitution that allowed the banksters to still inflate to their own advantage
  • The Coinage Act of 1792 and its effect on the definition of US money
  • How banks (especially central banks) still created some inflation thanks to the ‘magic’ of “fractional reserve banking”, and also sparked business cycles – though by today’s standards the US dollar’s value was remarkably stable overall
  • How the not-so-Civil War spelled changes in American money that were just as dramatic as the changes the war wrought in so many other arenas, with the Union experiencing high inflation, and the Confederacy experiencing hyperinflation

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August 28

Ep. 0025: DHP Heroes: Lysander Spooner

For the second installment of Dangerous History Podcast Heroes, Prof CJ takes a look at the life and ideas of nineteenth century American individualist anarchist Lysander Spooner (1808-1887.) Spooner had a huge influence on many prominent anti-state intellectuals and activists, including Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess (subject of the first DHP Heroes podcast back in episode #11.)

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  •  A brief overview of Spooner’s life
  • An examination of his ideas, including:  his opposition to slavery, but even more vehement opposition to the Union’s conquest and subjugation of the South in the not-so-Civil War; his belief in the inherent criminality of any coercive state; his rejection of any notion of a social contract; his rejection of the supposedly morally sanctifying effects of democracy; his economic ideas, including his belief in private property and preference for self-employment; and his vehement dislike of banksters, especially those who bankroll the state

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August 25

Ep. 0024: The Second Seminole War

Last time, we covered the First Seminole War; this time, we get to the nastier sequel.

The Second Seminole war was the US government’s longest and most expensive Indian War.  It also had many parallels to later campaigns in harsh environments against determined guerrilla fighters, and many lessons which, unfortunately, were not learned, as the nation did its best to consign the conflict to the ‘memory hole’ soon after its end.  Long before the Philippines War, and even longer before Vietnam, there was this brutal war…

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The 1823 Treaty of Moultrie Creek, which tried to confine the Seminoles to a reservation in central Florida, requiring most of them to relocate, cutting off their access to the coasts, denying their freedom of movement, and requiring them to assist in the capture and return of escaped slaves
  • The election of Andrew Jackson as president in 1828, which would have disastrous consequences for Southeastern Indians, including the Seminole
  • The Indian Removal Act and subsequent attempts to bribe or dupe the Seminoles into relocating out West
  • The rise of Osceola
  • The beginning of violence in 1835 with the so-called ‘Dade Massacre’ and assassination of the US Indian Agent Wiley Thompson
  • How US General Thomas Jesup captured Osceola by betraying a flag of truce, something even most white Americans found dishonorable
  • Osceola’s captivity and death from illness within a few months
  • The brutal Battle of Lake Okeechobee on Christmas Day, 1837
  • Continued Seminole guerrilla operations and American countermeasures, which sought to grind them down
  • The cessation of fighting in 1842, by which time the Seminole population of Florida had been reduced by approximately 94% in 20 years due to death and deportation
  • A brief mention of the much smaller Third Seminole War (1855-58)
  • Some concluding thoughts about this war from historians who have written about it extensively, and from Prof CJ

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August 21

Ep. 0023: How the United States Acquired Florida (the First Seminole War)

This is the little-known story of how Florida became a part of Team America.  (Spoiler:  It wasn’t totally voluntary…)

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • The background to the war:  what was going on in Florida leading up to the war, & who the Seminoles were, including the so-called ‘Black Seminoles’
  • Why the United States coveted Florida almost from day one of getting its independence
  • The destruction of the so-called “Negro Fort” by American forces in 1816
  • The immediate issues that led to fighting beginning in late 1817, culminating in Andrew Jackson’s invasion of West Florida in 1818
  • How Jackson exceeded his orders (which just allowed him to retaliate against hostile Indians), and went so far as to seize Spanish installations and execute two Brits who were found in the area
  • Secretary of State John Quincy Adams’ successful negotiation of a treaty in 1819 formally transferring Florida (East and West) to the US without provoking war or major retaliations from either Spain or Britain
  • How, even after the American takeover of Florida, Americans continued to see the Seminoles as a major problem, one that would be ‘dealt with’  beginning in the 1830s with the Second Seminole, which was much larger and costlier than the First, and which we’ll cover next episode
  • The troubling precedent set for the American Republic by Jackson’s actions in this undeclared war

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August 14

Ep. 0021: A History of the US Dollar Part 1: Through the Revolution

Why cover this topic?  First off, because the history of money is a lot more interesting than you might  think, and it’s absolutely crucial to understanding the world, past, present, and future.

This will be part 1 of a multipart series (right now I estimate it will probably be around 4 parts) covering the history of the United States dollar.  The series will be non-contiguous — ie, interspersed with episodes on other, probably non-related topics.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • Why money matters to understanding the world
  • British money of the colonial era, bimetallism, and Gresham’s Law
  • Other things the colonists used as money when coinage wasn’t readily available
  • Some of the desirable qualities in a commodity that make it work better than others as money, and some of the reasons why gold and silver function so well as money historically
  • The origins of the dollar — originally a Spanish coin modeled on a Bohemian coin, actually
  • The first paper money inflation in the Western World — in colonial Massachusetts
  • How overprinting of paper money in MA (and later in other colonies) disrupted their economy, and reinstating of hard money revived it
  • The Revolutionary War Continental Dollars, and the hyperinflation that resulted
  • A few updates on the show, how it’s going, ways to support it, thank-yous to those who have, and a few remarks about the future of the show

External links

An excerpt from the TV show DuckTales which shows how increasing the money supply dilutes the value of the money (Uncle Scrooge has more economic sense than our leaders!)

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August 7

Ep. 0019: The First World War, Part 4 (A Very-Not-Happy Ending)

With this episode, we wrap up our overview of WWI and the incalculable damage it did to the world.  I’ll likely cover other topics related to this war in the future, but this four-part series is my basic overview of some of the war and its most conspicuous results, legacies, and byproducts.

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  • How the war (and particularly how a lot of British actions during it) sowed the seeds for the violence and instability that has characterized the Middle East ever since
  • The collapse of Russia and the Bolshevik takeover there — another effect of the war that still has negative repercussions today
  • The end of the war, including the Paris Peace Conference and the horrible Treaty of Versailles, which pretty much guaranteed a Second World War.  (In the 1920 political cartoon shown, British PM David Lloyd George aims a howitzer at the Germans and says, “Off with the spiked hat!  What d’you think we fought for if not to abolish militarism?”)
  • How the British continued their blockade against the German people even after the armistice ended the war, in order to keep pressure on the Germans at the negotiating table.  (The blockade probably killed over 750,000 German civilians, BTW — think that might have given them a grudge???)
  • The so-called “Spanish Influenza” epidemic that hit at the end of the war
  • War and the growth of state power
  • Estimated breakdown of military deaths
  • Why most Americans see war in general, and the world wars in particular, in a very different light than Europeans
  • Prof CJ’s closing thoughts and analysis on the war as a whole

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External Links: