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Guest Opinion

On the ballot in November: Our “full faith and credit”


On March 8, Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, visited Washington D.C., though not for an official White House meeting as Hungary’s head of state. Instead, he was visiting the Heritage Foundation, perhaps this country’s best-known conservative think tank.

Orban, like his mentor and protector, Vladimir Putin, has converted Hungary to an autocracy where the courts, the legislature and the executive branch of government all serve the interests of the governing elite — the oligarchs. Like Vladimir Putin, Orban has amassed an enormous fortune for himself and those loyal to him.

“Why the Heritage Foundation?” you might ask. The Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973 to advance traditional conservative policies through research and advocacy, with the ultimate goal of empowering conservatives to administer the United States in accordance with strict conservative and traditional socio-religious doctrines. But like Hungary and its ruler, Heritage has been drawn to the notion of autocracy, presided over by those who simultaneously control commerce, industry and an enormously disproportionate share of aggregate national wealth.

As a former Chase Manhattan international banker and a retired private investor in emerging markets for what is now the private equity arm of Franklin Templeton Investments, I was obliged annually to help rate the sanctity and integrity of local contract law, as well as of the courts and the legal systems of the countries in which we invested — countries such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Implicit in this evaluation was to rate legal contractual enforcement standards relative to those of the U.S., issuer of the world’s global reserve currency, the U.S. Dollar.

It is the sanctity of U.S. laws and the strict neutrality of law enforcement, that underpins what in fact is America’s greatest power — its global reserve currency status and its resulting global economic and financial dominance.

The U.S. dollar is valued solely in accordance with the value of our promise to pay. It is linked to no underlying store of value such as gold. It is the epitome of a “Fiat” currency, one whose value is a function of our full faith and credit as a nation of laws, of legal and economic integrity — not our military might.

The all-pervasive use of the dollar globally dwarfs our military might in terms of the projection of U.S. power throughout the world.

As I think back to my days of helping evaluate the financial and legal integrity of developing countries, and recall the fact that neither Hungary nor Russia would remotely qualify for participation in the Euro zone given their utter lack of legal integrity and financial accountability, it is abundantly clear that our power and our well-being are on the ballot this November.

The 45th president refers to our current government and economic status as “third world.” I have spent decades in the “Third World,” long enough to know that it is not who we are at present, though it may very well be where we are headed, should the Heritage Foundation and its friends in Hungary and Russia achieve that which they appear to be seeking.

Joe Falconi lives in Buckingham.

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