BC wonders: Why do you and so many others claim that we need to tie currency to some metal for value? Your argument seems to be that fiat currency has no basis in fact and has its value assigned arbitrarily. How is the value of the dollar any more arbitrary than the value of gold? Gold has value because people desire it. What happens if some day nobody wants gold? Also, there is a finite amount of gold in and on the earth. By enforcing some kind of precious metal currency standard, you would then be setting an upper limit on value, which capitalism doesn’t recognize. Basically, a gold standard system is no more contrived than fiat currency backed up by nothing more than the promise of a government to not go out of business.
I don’t see any time where people will take a mass of gold in payment for anything, so we would still have some form of paper currency, with some massive pile of metal somewhere in a secured building, where it isn’t doing anything terribly productive at all. And that paper currency would have a value based upon the amount of this metal that the government owns, and if the government goes belly up (one of the arguments that seems to be used against fiat currency) they have all the gold, and the guns to defend it, so you’re technically in the same place anyhow.
Unless you use the other argument against fiat currency, which is that tied to a standard, a government can’t just print more money for some purpose, nefarious or otherwise. Of course, since the value of everything will then be a fixed quantity, there would no longer be any such thing as an upwardly mobile middle class either. I just don’t see or understand any benefit to tying currency (which in itself is not an indicator of value, so much as an indicator of desire) to some metal that some people cherish and others just don’t give a damn about.
The reason that I and many others champion a gold-based currency is that we value human freedom and oppose government tyranny. BC’s first point is irrelevant, because there is no such thing as objective value. Value is subjective, and is independently determined, which is why the first thing a government does in establishing a paper currency is to ban all competitors. An objective value is forced upon many who would otherwise value it at zero. Here, we must accept the the worthless paper debt instruments as valid – you cannot refuse to accept a Federal Reserve Note for any debt, public or private. As to the mass of gold argument, that is silly, as there are already numerous private technological solutions such as e-gold; a government’s refusal to pay its gold debts would likely destroy it as well as its economy. That’s one reason why governments hated the gold standard in the first place.
However, BC does glimpse the real issue. The amount of gold increases very slowly, as opposed to the massive inflationary increases in the money supply which are revealed in the national debt and the M3 money supply – not the fraudulent CPI – and are inevitable in any paper money system. Paper money always fails and becomes worthless in the end, the only question is when the end will arrive. The important thing about gold – or an alternative metal – is that it prevents the steady increase in central government power created by this inevitable inflation. The notion that there would be no middle class without inflation is bizarre – the value point is irrelevant, as above – and the middle class itself developed prior to the establishment of the current fiat regime. In fact, the position of the middle class has been greatly weakened, as only the addition of a second income has allowed most middle class households to remain where they were fifty years ago. (There’s a good study on this somewhere, I’ll try to find it. Basically, the increase in taxes which stem from inflation eat up the entire second income so the disposable income has remained approximately the same. Of course, easy debt has allowed many to live beyond their means, but at a price.)
In short, gold is the ultimate weapon of financial freedom and an important foundation of economic and political freedom as well. The USA has profited greatly by suckering billions of dollars daily out of the poor fools buying our debt, but eventually foreigners will wake up to the fact that they’ve been robbed by the unconscionable counterfeiting. Some factors indicate that this is already beginning to happen. I suspect that we’ll all own million-dollar homes before this comes to pass, though.