When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced Alexander Hamilton’s removal from his featured position on the ten dollar bill, economists, pundits and historians responded.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed his dismay in a blog post, which was reposted by his current employer, the left-wing think tank Brookings Institution.
Bernanke wrote, “Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, would qualify as among the greatest of our founders for his contributions to achieving American independence and creating the Constitution alone. In addition to those accomplishments, however, Hamilton was without doubt the best and most foresighted economic policymaker in U.S. history.”
Joshua Cook spoke with Dr. Tom DiLorenzo, an American economist and professor at Loyola University Maryland who wrote Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution–and What It Means for Americans Today, who disagrees with Bernanke.
“The fact that Hamilton is Ben Bernanke’s hero speaks volumes about Ben Bernanke,” he said.
DiLorenzo pointed out shortcomings in Bernanke’s argument: “One of the things he said is Hamilton should stay on the $10 bill because he was a champion of the Constitution, and that’s simply not only wrong, but the opposite of the truth.”
DiLorenzo said that the famous debates between Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson showed their views of the Constitution, and they are quite different.
“Jefferson’s position was that a government should be bound by the chains of the Constitution. That’s the way he put it,” he said.
“Hamilton’s view though was that government should be virtually unlimited as long as it was run by quiver and good-willed people like himself. And that was just the opposite idea of the founders,” he added.
“The first big battle between these two great men came over the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States, which was the first central bank. The Constitutional Convention rejected the idea, explicitly. But Hamilton wanted a bank run by politicians in secret. He was a mercantilist; that means he was in favor of using government basically for the benefit of corporate welfare, protecting tariffs, protecting manufacturers from international competition and that sort of thing that was sort of the British mercantilist system,” he said.
“When they argued over this bank it was Hamilton who invented the idea of implied powers of the Constitution. Jefferson pointed out the obvious that there was no Constitutional authority for a bank run by politician,” he said. “He invented this whole doctrine of implied powers that has been a plague on America ever since.”
“Generations of lawyers and politicians have used his arguments to read into the Constitution things that are not there in a way that the Constitution is quite meaningless anymore.”
Look at the most recent Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare- they ruled it was Constitutional, but they made it all up. “That’s the Hamiltonian vision of the Constitution.”
Another thing Hamilton favored was a permanent President. “His plan at the Constitutional convention was for a permanent President who would appoint all of the governors, and the governors would have veto power over all state legislation, which is the exact system of the British empire.”
“So Hamilton left the Constitutional Convention in a huff, and when the actual Constitution was fully ratified, he condemned it publicly, calling it a ‘frail and worthless fabric’ and he condemned Thomas Jefferson in particular, personally.”
He called Jefferson’s idea of limited government a “symptom of a pygmy mind.”
Another person coming out as a Hamilton fan is Pat Buchanan, who appeared with DiLorenzo on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“First thing he said was Alexander Hamilton is my hero. I basically had four or five people shouting me down. I didn’t really get a chance to say anything about my book,” he added.
Buchanan on the morning show called Hamilton the “architect of the American economy.”
“It’s absurd to call any one man the architect of the American economy. Not even the Russians under the Soviet Union made the argument that one man, Stalin or whoever, was so great that he was responsible for the entire economy. The economy is millions of workers, entrepreneurs, consumers, inventor… That’s what the economy is,” DiLorenzo explained.
Click here to listen to Joshua Cook’s entire interview with DiLorenzo.