Ellen Hodgson Brown is a active and courageous blogger on financial freedom and reform topics. Her book is highly recommended, find it at WebofDebt.com

She gave me permission to share this excerpt from her book, Web of Debt, in an email I have from Oct 7, 2011. It is the only "put right" reading of this fairy tale known to me.

The Wizard of Oz – Put Right!

“Ounces is abbreviated oz, hence "Oz."

Excerpted with permission from Chapter 1 of Web of Debt, LESSONS FROM THE WIZARD OF OZ, by Ellen Hodgson Brown, abridged by BD, shared with permission.

…The economic allusions in Baum's tale were first observed in 1964. Professor Tim Ziaukas, writing in 1998, observed,
The Wizard of Oz" . . . was written at a time when American society was consumed by the debate over the "financial question," that is, the creation and circulation of money.

. . . The characters of "The Wizard of Oz" represented those deeply involved in the debate: the Scarecrow as the farmers, the Tin Woodman as the industrial workers, the Lion as silver advocate William Jennings Bryan and Dorothy as the archetypal American girl.3

Baum, the Republicans & the Theosophists

Frank Baum, the journalist who turned the politics of his day into The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, marched with the Populist Party in support of Bryan in 1896. He had a deep distrust of big-city financiers. But when his dry goods business failed, he bought a Republican newspaper, which had to have a Republican message to retain its readership.12 That may have been why the Populist message was so deeply buried in symbolism in his famous fairytale. Like Lewis Carroll, who began his career writing uninspiring tracts about mathematics and politics and wound up satirizing Victorian society in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Baum was able to suggest in a children's story what he could not say in his editorials. His book contained many subtle allusions to the political and financial issues of the day.

Commentators trace the story's inspirational message to the Theosophical movement, of which Baum was an active member.13 Newly-imported from India, it held what we call reality is a no more nor less than construct of the material senses and what the mind makes of those percepts. Consequently, the inner reality is more at cause than outer material reality. If you can discipline your inner self to strongly perceive what you wish; then, this tends to "realize" your desire externally; and possibly, "make it real."

The Wizard of Oz – Put Right

Historical interpretation by Ellen Hodgson Brown

The story began on a barren Kansas farm, where Dorothy lived with a very sober aunt and uncle who "never laughed" (the 1890s depression had hit the farmers particularly hard).

A cyclone came up, carrying Dorothy and the house into the magical world of Oz (the American dream that might have been).
The house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East (the Wall Street bankers and their man Grover Cleveland), who had kept the Munchkins (the farmers and factory workers) in bondage for many years.

For killing the Wicked Witch, Dorothy was awarded magic silver slippers (the Populist silver solution to the money crisis) by the Good Witch of the North (the North was then a Populist stronghold).

In the 1939 film, the silver slippers are transformed by Hollywood into ruby slippers to show off the cinema's new technicolor abilities. The silver shoes have the magic power to solve Dorothy's dilemma, just as the Silverites thought that expanding the money supply with silver coins would solve the problems facing the farmers.

Dorothy wants to get back to Kansas but is unaware of the power of the slippers on her feet. She sets out to the Emerald City to seek help from the Wizard of Oz (the apparently all-powerful President of the U.S. But alas, his strings are actually pulled by the financiers concealed behind a flimsy curtain).

"The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick," she was told, "so you cannot miss it." Baum's contemporary audience, wrote Professor Ziaukas, could not miss it either, as an allusion to the gold standard that was then a hot topic of debate.14 In modern power language we say it this way; “Follow the money; just follow the money.”

Like the Emerald City and the Great and Powerful Oz himself, the yellow brick road would turn out to be an illusion. In the end, what would carry Dorothy home were silver slippers.

On her journey down the yellow brick road, Dorothy is first joined by the Scarecrow in search of a brain (the naive but intelligent farmer kept in the dark about the government's financial policies); then, by the Tin Woodman in search of a heart (the factory worker frozen by unemployment and dehumanized by mechanization). Henry M. Littlefield inThe Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism comments:

The Tin Woodman . . . had been put under a spell by the Witch of the East. Once an independent and hard working human being, the Woodman found that each time he swung his axe it chopped off a different part of his body. Knowing no other trade he "worked harder than ever," for luckily in Oz tinsmiths can repair such things. Soon the Woodman was all tin. In this way Eastern witchcraft dehumanized a simple laborer so that the faster and better he worked the more quickly he became a kind of machine.

Here we have a Populist view of evil East Coast (urban, capitalist in the worse sense, abstract, exploitive) influences on honest labor which could hardly be more pointed. The close resemblance of themes here to the book and silent film “Metropolis” can also be noted.

The Eastern “witchcraft” causing the Woodman to chop off parts of his own body reflected the dark magic of the Wall Street bankers, whose "gold standard" allowed less money into the system than was collectively owed to the banks, causing the assets of the laboring classes to be systematically devoured by debt spreading poverty and unhappiness.

The fourth petitioner to join the march on Oz is the Lion in search of courage. According to Littlefield, he represents the orator Bryan himself, whose roar was mighty like the king of the forest but who lacked political power.

In his own day, Bryan was branded a coward by his opponents because he was a pacifist and anti-imperialist at a time of American expansion in Asia.
The Lion became entranced and fell asleep in the Witch's poppy field, suggesting Bryan's tendency to get side-tracked with issues of American imperialism stemming from the Opium Wars. Since Bryan led the "Populist" or "People's" Party, the Lion also represented the people, collectively powerful but entranced and unaware of their strength.

In the Emerald City, the people were required to wear green-colored glasses attached by a gold buckle, suggesting green paper money shackled to the gold standard. To get to her room in the Emerald Palace, Dorothy had to go through 7 passages and up 3 flights of stairs, an allusion to the "Crime of '73," the congressional Act that changed the money system from bimetallism (paper notes backed by both gold and silver) to an exclusive gold standard. The Crime of '73 proved to all Populists that Congress and the bankers were in collusion.15

Dorothy and her troop present their requests to the Wizard. He demands they first vanquish the Wicked Witch of the West, representing the McKinley/Rockefeller faction in Ohio (then considered a Western state).

The financial powers of the day were the Morgan/Wall Street/Cleveland faction in the East (the Wicked Witch of the East) and this Rockefeller-backed contingent from Ohio, the state of McKinley, Hanna, and Rockefeller's Standard Oil cartel. Hanna was an industrialist who was a high school friend of John D. Rockefeller and had the financial backing of the oil giant.16

Dorothy and her friends learn the Witch of the West enslaved the Yellow Winkies and the Winged Monkeys (an allusion to the Chinese immigrants working on the Union-Pacific railroad, the native Americans banished from the northern woods, and the Filipinos denied independence by McKinley).

Dorothy destroys the Witch by melting her with a bucket of water, suggesting the rain that would reverse the drought, and the financial liquidity that the Populist solution would bring to the land. As one nineteenth century commentator put it, "Money and debt are as opposite in nature as fire and water; money extinguishes debt as water extinguishes fire."17

When Dorothy and her troop become lost in the forest, she is told to call the Winged Monkeys by using a Golden Cap she had found in the Witch's cupboard. When the Winged Monkeys come, their leader explains they were once a free and happy people; but they were now "three times the slaves of the owner of the Golden Cap, whosoever he may be" (the bankers and their gold standard). When the Golden Cap falls into the hands of the Wicked Witch of the West, the Witch made them enslave the Winkies and drive Oz himself from the Land of the West.

Dorothy uses the power of the Cap to have her band of pilgrims flown to the Emerald City, where they discover the "Wizard" is only a smoke and mirrors illusion operated by a little man behind a curtain. A dispossessed Nebraska man himself, he admits to being a "humbug" without real power. "One of my greatest fears was the Witches," he said, "for while I had no magical powers at all, I soon found out that the Witches were really able to do wonderful things."

If the Wizard and his puppet were Marcus Hanna and William McKinley, who were the Witches they feared?

Behind the Wall Street bankers were powerful British financiers, who funded the Confederates in the Civil War. They had been trying to divide and conquer America economically for over a century. Patriotic Americans regarded the British as the enemy ever since the American Revolution. McKinley was a protectionist who favored high tariffs to keep these marauding British free-traders out. When he was assassinated in 1901, no conspiracy was proved; but some suspicious commentators saw the invisible hand of British high finance at work.18

The Wizard lacks magical powers but is a very good psychologist. He offers to take Dorothy back to Kansas in his hot air balloon, but the balloon took off before she could get on board. Dorothy and her friends then set out to find Glinda the Good Witch of the South, who can help Dorothy find her way home.

On the way they face various challenges, including a great spider that eats everything in its path and keeps everyone unsafe as long as it is alive. The Lion (the Populist leader Bryan) welcomes this chance to test his new-found courage and prove he is indeed King of Beasts. He decapitates the mighty spider with his paw, just as Bryan would have toppled the banking cartel if he had won the Presidency.

The group finally reaches Glinda, who reveals Dorothy had the magic tokens she needed all along: the Silver Shoes on her feet will take her home. But first, says Glinda, Dorothy must give up the Golden Cap (the bankers' restrictive gold standard that enslaved the people).

The moral also worked for the nation itself. The economy was deep in depression, but the country's farmlands were still fertile and its factories were ready to roll. Its entranced people merely lacked the paper tokens called "money" that would facilitate production and trade. The people had been deluded into a belief in scarcity by defining their wealth in terms of a scarce commodity, gold. The country's true wealth consisted of its goods and services, its resources and the creativity of its people. Like the Tin Woodman in need of oil, all it needed was a monetary medium that would allow this wealth to flow freely, circulating from the government to the people and back again, without being perpetually drained into the private coffers of the bankers.

Ellen Brown’s vision of money

Today's monetary allegory goes something like this: the dollar is a national resource that belongs to the people. It was an original invention of the early American colonists, a new form of paper currency backed by the "full faith and credit" of the people.

But a private banking cartel has taken over its issuance, turning debt into money and demanding that it be paid back with interest. … [she returns to more historical survey and summary]

© Copyright 2007 Ellen Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Ellen Hodgson Brown is a active and courageous blogger on financial freedom and reform topics. Her book is highly recommended, find it at WebofDebt.com

She gave me permission to share this excerpt from her book, Web of Debt, in an email I have from Oct 7, 2011. It is the only "put right" reading of this fairy tale known to me.

The Wizard of Oz – Put Right!

“Ounces is abbreviated oz, hence "Oz."

Excerpted with permission from Chapter 1 of Web of Debt, LESSONS FROM THE WIZARD OF OZ, by Ellen Hodgson Brown, abridged by BD, shared with permission.