Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VIII.: THE TRUE CHARACTER OF THE NATIONAL SYSTEM. - The Shorter Works and Pamphlets of Lysander Spooner, Vol. 2 (1862-1884)
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CHAPTER VIII.: THE TRUE CHARACTER OF THE “NATIONAL” SYSTEM. - Lysander Spooner, The Shorter Works and Pamphlets of Lysander Spooner, Vol. 2 (1862-1884) 
The Shorter Works and Pamphlets of Lysander Spooner, vol. 2 (1862-1884) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010).
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THE TRUE CHARACTER OF THE “NATIONAL” SYSTEM.
Under the “National” system there are less than 2,000 banks. But let us call them 2,000.
Calling the population of the country forty millions, there is but one bank to 20,000 people.
And this one bank is, in law, a person; and only a single person. In lending money, it acts, and can act, only as a unit. Its several stockholders cannot act separately, as so many individuals, in lending money.
So far, therefore, as this system is concerned, there is but one money lender for twenty thousand people!
Of these 20,000 people, ten thousand (male and female) are sixteen years of age and upwards, capable of creating wealth, and requiring capital to make their labor most productive.
Yet, so far as this system is concerned, there is but one person authorized to lend money to, or for, these ten thousand, who wish to borrow.
And this one money lender is one who, proverbially “has no soul.” It is not a natural human being. It is a legal, an artificial, and not a natural, person. It is neither masculine nor feminine. It has not the ordinary human sympathies, and is not influenced by the ordinary human motives of action. It is no father, who might wish to lend money to his children, to start them in life. It is no neighbor, who might wish to assist his neighbor. It is no citizen, who might wish to promote the public welfare. It is simply a nondescript, created by law, that wants money, and nothing else.
Moreover, it has only $177,000 to lend to these 10,000 borrowers; that is, a fraction less than $18, on an average, for each one!
What chance of borrowing capital have these ten thousand persons, who are forbidden to borrow, except from this one soulless person, who has so little to lend?
If money lenders must be soulless—as, perhaps, to some extent, they must be—it is certainly of the utmost importance that there be so many of them, and that they may have so much money to lend, as that they may be necessitated, by their own selfishness, to compete with each other, and thus save the borrowers from their extortions.
But the “National” system says, not only that the money lender shall be a soulless person, and one having only a little money to lend, but that he shall also have the whole field—a field of 10,000 borrowers—entirely to himself!
It says that this soulless person shall have this whole field to himself, notwithstanding he has so little money to lend, and notwithstanding there are many other persons standing by, having, in the aggregate, fifty times as much money to lend as he; and desiring to lend it at one half, or one third, the rates he is demanding, and extorting!
It says, too, that he shall have this whole field to himself, notwithstanding that ninety-nine one-hundredths of those who desire to borrow, are sent away empty! and are thereby condemned—so far as such a system can condemn them—to inevitable poverty!
But further. Each one of these 2,000 legal, or artificial, persons, who alone are permitted to lend money, is made up of, say, fifty actual, or natural, persons, to whom alone, it is well known, that this legal person will lend it!
These 2,000 legal persons, then, who alone are permitted to lend money, are made up of 100,000 actual persons, who alone are to borrow it.
These 100,000 actual persons, who compose the legal persons, do not, then, become bankers because they have money to lend to others, but only because they themselves want to borrow!
Thus when the system says that they alone shall lend, it virtually says that they alone shall borrow; because it is well known that, in practice, they will lend only to themselves.
In short, it says that only these 100,000 men—or one in four hundred of the population—shall have liberty either to lend, or borrow, capital! Such capital as is indispensable to every producer of wealth, if he would control his own industry, or make his labor most productive.
Consequently, it says, practically—so far as it is in its power to say—that only one person in four hundred of the population shall be permitted to have capital; or, consequently, to labor directly for himself; and that all the rest of the four hundred shall be compelled to labor for this one, at such occupations, and for such wages, as he shall see fit to dictate.
In short, the system says—as far as it can say—that only 100,000 persons—only one person in four hundred of the population—shall be suffered to have any money! And, consequently, that all the property and labor of the thirty-nine million nine hundred thousand (39,900,000) persons shall be under the practical, and nearly absolute, control of these 100,000 persons! It says that thirty-nine million nine hundred thousand (39,900,000) persons shall be in a state of industrial and commercial servitude (to the 100,000), elevated but one degree above that of chattel slavery.
And this scheme is substantially carried out in practice. These 100,000 men call themselves “the business men” of the country. By this it is meant, not that they are the producers of wealth, but only that they alone handle the money! Other persons are permitted to sell only to them! to buy only of them! to labor only for them! and to sell to, buy of, and labor for, them, only at such prices as these 100,000 shall dictate.
These 100,000 so called “business men,” not only own the government, but they are the government. Congress is made up of them, and their tools. And they hold all the other departments of the government in their hands. Their sole purpose is power and plunder; and they suffer no constitutional or natural law to stand in the way of their rapacity.
How many times, during the last presidential canvass, were we told that “the business men” of the country wished things to remain as they were? Having gathered all power into their own hands, having subjected all the property and all the labor of the country to their service and control, who can wonder that they were content with things as they were? That they did not desire any change? And their money and their frauds being omnipotent in carrying elections, there was no change.
These 100,000 “business men,” having secured to themselves the control of all bank credits, and thereby the control of all business depending on bank loans; having also obtained control of the government, enact that foreigners shall not be permitted to compete with them, by selling goods in our markets, except under a disadvantage of fifty to one hundred per cent.
And this is the industrial and financial system which the “National” bank system establishes—so far as it can establish it. And this is the scheme by means of which these 100,000 men cripple, and more than half paralyze, the industry of forty millions of people, and secure to themselves so large a portion of the proceeds of such industry as they see fit to permit.