Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" as Monetary Allegory

In his essay "The Crime of 1873", which appears as Chapter 3 of Money Mischief: Episodes in Monetary History, Milton Friedman refers to a "fascinating paper" in which Rutgers economist Hugh Rockoff "persuasively argues that L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 'is not only a child's tale but also a sophisticated commentary on the political and economic debates of the Populist Era' . . . that is, on the silver agitation generated by the so-called crime of 1873."
"The land of Oz," according to Rockoff, "is the East [in which] the gold standard reigns supreme and where an ounce (Oz) of gold has almost mystical significance" . . .. Rockoff goes on to identify the Wicked Witch of the East with Grover Cleveland, the gold Democrat who, as president, "led the [successful] repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of [sic, should be "in"] 1893" . . ..
Want to find out which character is identified with William Jennings Bryan? Or why Dorothy's little dog is named Toto? Well, I'm happy to report that Prof. Rockoff's article, The "Wizard of Oz" as Monetary Allegory, is available online.

The illustration at the top is taken from a post at Propaganda & Mass Persuasion.

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