By Mark Skousen
Last Thursday, Jan. 17, marked Ben Franklin's 307th birthday.
What would this founding father extraordinaire, the first scientific American and financial guru say about America in 2013?
As a sixth-generation grandson of the famous man, I imagined contacting the grandfather of our nation through modern technology and asking him directly.
Here are my questions and his responses:
SKOUSEN: Hello, Dr. Franklin, are you there?
DR. FRANKLIN: Yes, I am here. I pray you may forgive my lateness, as I was engaged in some important business in another galaxy. Space travel is most agreeable in the world of spirits!
SKOUSEN: Dr. Franklin, happy 307th birthday! We are delighted to have you as our guest to answer some questions.
FRANKLIN: I'm honored. Let's get started. Time is money! What is your first question?
SKOUSEN: Thanks, Dr. Franklin. Our first question is, how do you feel about being on the $100 bill?
DR. FRANKLIN: Oh! It does indeed please my vanity to be 100 times more valuable than the father of our nation, my good friend Gen. Washington!
SKOUSEN: Speaking of Gen. Washington, I see that recently you and Gen. Washington were voted among the top five greatest Americans of all time. How does it feel to be a celebrity?
DR. FRANKIN: To be perfectly honest, I am perfectly sick of it! When I was minister to France, besides being harassed with too much business, I was exposed to numerous visits, some of kindness and civility, but many of mere idle curiosity. These devoured my hours, and broke my attention, and at night I often found myself fatigued without having done anything. I sometimes feel the same way here in the world of spirits, with a constant stream of visitors and relatives I never knew I had!
SKOUSEN: Are you concerned about inflation and the declining value of the $100 bill?
DR. FRANKLIN: In life nothing is certain but death and taxes, but now I see I must add inflation to the list. With your constant inflation, it seems I become more popular every day, and now my face is as well-known as the moon. My only fear is that your government will soon abandon banknotes entirely in favor a cashless society, leaving the greatest nation in the world with no daily reminder of its most famous philosopher!
SKOUSEN: Many experts blame our central bank, the Federal Reserve, for the constant depreciation of our currency. Should the Fed go back on a gold standard to return discipline to our government and to stop the inflation?
DR. FRANKLIN: I favor a hard currency with considerable flexibility according to commerce. Because of our lack of sufficient quantity of hard money in our country, I published a pamphlet in Philadelphia favoring paper money in moderate quantities, and found it to be highly beneficial to commerce. But during the Revolutionary War, the public demanded more than was necessary because they were not willing to pay their taxes. The Continental dollar depreciated rapidly and hurt our credit both here and abroad, and I often was unable to sleep at night because of the financial distress.
SKOUSEN: What do you think of the nation's huge deficits, the tax increases, big government, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Great Recession, the Patriot Act, CEO scandals, gun violence and a collapsing dollar?
DR. FRANKLIN: Stop! Stop! I see nothing has changed since I left this sad world over 200 years ago. Upon my return from France, I saw in the public papers frequent complaints of hard times, etc. There can be no country in which there are not some sort of troubles. And it is always in the power of a small number to make a great clamor. So my advice to you is to take a cool view of the general state of affairs, and perhaps the prospects will appear less gloomy than you have imagined.
SKOUSEN: So you are still an optimist about the future of the United States?