Professor F. W. Taussig spoke informally last night to the members of the Finance Club on the silver question, describing in a very interesting manner the present status of the free coinage controversy. He spoke first of the visit of the committee of Boston business men to Washington. In the House Finance Committee before which the Boston men appeared the free coinage advocates were very aggressive. There was a general feeling that if the bill could be brought before the House it would be stampeded through without difficulty; consequently the silver men on the finance committee were constantly trying to force the committee to a report; they did not care whether the report were favorable or unfavorable, all they wanted was to get the bill before the House. The sound money men adopted a policy of delay, and have succeeded so well as to practically kill the bill for this session. But the silver men are all confident that free coinage legislation must come sooner or later. The members of the Boston delegation were sharply cross-examined by these men, some of whom are certainly very sincere in their beliefs.
The members of both parties in Congress, however, have made the question one of politics rather than principles. The republicans, demoralized by their recent defeat, have sought delay. The democrats have wanted to pass the bill and force the president to veto it-as he would certainly have done-hoping thus to injure the republicans in some of the Western States, especially in the new states.
Professor Taussig closed his talk with a brief review of the origin of the present free coinage bill. It comes not from the silver states but from the general depression and hard times throughout the West and the feeling among the farmers that in some way this bill will remove the pressure. The real difficulty in the West is not a scarcity of money but the tendency to too rapid development; too great increase in production results, of course, in prices being forced down. The silver agitation is purely an inflation movement and must be followed by all the consequences of inflation. The possibilities of maintaining gold and silver on a par with each other depends not upon the quantity of silver which could be put into circulation, but upon the amount of gold in the government treasury. Professor Taussig feels sure that the amount is not sufficient to hold out very long.
At the close of his talk Professor Taussig spent some time in answering questions asked by members of the club.