Monday, November 16, 2009

Ernie Harburg: Yes, The Wizard of Oz is About The Gold Standard

"What do you make of it?" asked my radical, sweetly gullible friend many years ago, emailing me "Smithy"'s wonderful "Wizards of Money" over a slow modem. As I turned my critical powers on the anonymous collection of recordings, I was bewildered. The preposterous ideas about money creation, spoken by an anonymous voice, sounded like a broadcast from the lunatic fringe. It didn't boost their credibility that early on, they advanced the claim that the Wizard of Oz book is really a modern fable on money creation and the gold standard. At the time, this seemed as plausible as stating that the House on Pooh Corner is a modern fable on the housing crisis. Even today, in unnerves me to find the good old MP3's are hosted in a folder inside a Chaos Astrology website.

But I do have a taste for preposterous ideas. Years later, I was grateful for pondering those presented in the Wizards of Money. They was helpful in preparing me me for the financial crisis that was still in the making. In 2009, when I realized that, I started wondering if that part about the Oz symbolism story had a grain of truth in it.

Wikipedia acknowledges that "Some scholars have theorized" about symbolism in the Wizard of Oz, but places that theory outside the consensus. But today the non-consensual theory is vindicated. In a day so fittingly marked by energetic gold movement, a KPFA special featured an interview with Ernie Harburg - son of Yip Harburg, the blacklisted Wizard of Oz's composer. Harburg tells this
"But it had this underlay of political symbolism to it that the farmer—the scarecrow was the farmer. He thought he was dumb, but he really wasn’t; he had a brain. And the tin woodman was the result—was the laborer in the factories. With one accident after another, he was totally reduced to a tin man with no heart, alright, on an assembly line. And the cowardly lion was William Jennings Bryan, who kept trying—was a big politician at that time, promising to make the world over with the gold standard, you know? And the wizard, who was a humbug type, was the Wall Street finances, and the wicked witch was probably the railroads, but I’m not sure. Alright?"

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