History shows us that when countries use a valuable commodity for money they have zero or low inflation; zero or minor cycles of economic panic or depression; and more peace, liberty, and prosperity (smaller governments).
For example, the number of grams of gold needed to buy a barrel of oil has been very steady over the years. A key benefit of using gold as money is its value stability. Even better, Econ 101 tells us that a commodity such as gold in limited supply, and with increasing demand for it (growth of the economy), will APPRECIATE in value. This has huge importance because it kills the "there is not enough gold" argument, and gives a positive incentive to save and avoid debt.
Thus, we would expect all countries to use sound money, except the politicians want more money than they can get by just taxing, especially for wars. They want a way to create money "out of thin air." Fiat money ("face value" decreed by the government, not redeemable for gold; we call ours Federal Reserve Notes) serves this purpose. Even when some level of redeemability (exchange for precious metal) exists, governments often suspend it before, during, and after wars, which the US did for the Revolutionary, 1812 and Civil wars, after which it must be pushed to restore it -- often with less value.
The two key reasons for using a commodity as money are to:
A. Limit excess expansion of the money supply (inflation; loss of value) by the government (you can’t trust them).
B. Provide a market-based store of value. The commodity could be wheat, iron, diamonds, or pearls, but the market (users of money) usually chooses gold because it works best.
To achieve broad use, commodity coins must be made of, or contain, a material that is:
1) Rare, with a low amount in existence now and limited new supply.
2) Malleable, so can be made into coins.
3) Stable physically and chemically; doesn't break, rust, or rot (can be stored; lasts through much handling).
4) Easy to identify (recognize), and determine purity and amount.
5) Difficult or impossible to counterfeit.
6) Homogeneous in content (a melted chunk is the same throughout).
7) Divisible into pieces (diamonds and pearls aren’t).
8) High value per ounce (not bulky to handle or store).
9) Acceptable to most sellers (familiar and recognizable).
This approach allows the use of representative paper notes ("claim checks" for gold), or base-metal tokens, so long as they are marked to show the amount of gold they can be redeemed for by any bearer, on demand.
The market of money users has decided that gold fits the above requirements best, but silver and copper can have a role in parallel, with no fixed ratios set between them as to value per gram (i.e., no bi-metallic standard). It is interesting to note that gold is not "consumed" as are other commodities, including silver and copper. Thus, except for wear, over 90% of all gold mined in history still exists (even if buried in a tomb). Silver and copper supplies and costs are more volatile than gold (more new production, are consumed for industrial use, etc.), so are less attractive, but usable. When gold is used as money, it has no "price" anymore -- weight is the unit of account. This will take some getting used to as we evolve to pricing in weight of gold.
From its origin until 1913, the US used a combination of foreign and domestic coins and local "bills of credit," had two failed central banks, Continental and Greenback paper dollars (both became worthless), and various runs and panics in a turbulent banking system. The unconstitutional Federal Reserve System was created in 1913 and had a monopoly on creation of "legal tender" money. It was secretly planned by bankers and politicians, for bankers and politicians. At first, anyone had the right to trade-in their Silver Certificate paper dollars for a silver dollar (this ended in 1968), and deal in gold for transactions. In March, 1933 (his first month in office) FDR took those rights from mere people, and only nations could redeem paper for gold. In 1971 Nixon ended this right for nations when he abrogated the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement due to our serious financial problems ( a. We were running out of gold because France, England, and others were redeeming the US dollars accumulated in Europe due to our postwar spending and loans there, and b. The US was poor after spending on Vietnam and LBJ's 'Great Society', etc.). With no link to gold, the US could make dollars out of thin air as needed, and did we ever! Prices started their 'hockey stick' shaped rise a few years later as the effect of excess money creation and spending trickled to the world economy. Within in a few years, all nations worldwide ceased redeemability, even the prudent Swiss floated the Swiss franc (SF), but have been less abusive than others; hence while 1 US$ = about 4 SF in 1961, it is now about 1 US = 1 SF, so they only inflated by 2.5 while by 2008 the US inflated by 10; 4 times more!
Where We Are Today
The US has been the worst abuser among developed nations (older countries remembered their lessons from past monetary failures). The US has created so much new free, fake money since 1971 that the US dollar has lost about 80% of its purchasing power since then (this excess expansion of the money supply is called monetary inflation, like a balloon) with its consequent price increases (due to loss of the dollar's purchasing power) called price inflation. Check prices of common commodity items (that are not imported, subsidized, cheaper due to new technology, or under price control), such as a pizza, a restaurant meal, or even a car. Good examples are:
1. A room at a Motel 6 cost $6 in the 1950s, but is now in the $50 range in 2010 (same type of room and service)
2. A family car cost about $2,000 in the ’60s, but is now about $20,000 in 2010.
There is your 8 to 10X loss of USD value since the late 1940s (when the post-war big-spending started)! This ties-in with the over 95% loss of the dollars value since the Fed started! The only reason we can get away with our worldwide spending and borrowing is because the USD is the world's reserve currency (any person or bank will take and keep it as if "good as gold") and we can create new money to pay our bills. The dollar is viewed as a share in USA, Inc., the world's strongest economy, which sadly is fading (faster since 2007), as we continue the long abuse of our economy (by spending, taxing, and harmful intervention by the Fed and government) and money (by excess expansion of the supply). The era of US world dominance is ending, as it does with all empires (Rome, Spain, England, France, etc.). When (not if) the dollar loses its reserve currency status, there will be a 50% or more loss in value in a few days, and prices at Wal-Mart will triple!
Politicians and bankers love an unending supply of cheap money, but such fiat systems always fail. It is part of the pattern for all failed empires in history, and the Empire-USA is now entering the failure phase. To avoid a chaotic crash, we must reduce spending (including our role as the world’s policemen and bully), and convert to a gold-money system! The gold we own could be used to back all existing US dollars, and allow redemption of paper for gold. This would amount to about 2/10,000 ounce per dollar (or less if the Fed is lying about how much we have), and imply a price of about $50,000 per ounce. Thereafter, prices would be in weight of gold (grams, milligrams). All nations would soon convert to gold money, or sellers would not accept their trash paper. Variable foreign exchange valuations would end between countries using gold. The IMF, World Bank, BIS, G-20, and all other meddling government groups would fade and die (good). Time is short (1 to 10 years) before the big crash starts.
Write, call and visit your Senate and Congress persons to urge support of this new system. Most now prefer hyperinflation (print money to pay bills), or default (ignore debts), but that causes more damage and has no future benefit. Despite the pain and losses the conversion to gold may cause, the damage is far less than an uncontrolled crash, and there is a bright future afterward. Let’s get started.
David Redick has authored two books Monetary Revolution USA, and Rebuild America Now. Mr. Redick is a "Ron Paul Style" Republican running for Wisconsin State Assembly and supports establishing a state bank.
Related Article by David Redick:
The Impact of Fiat Money as The World's Reserve Currency
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This article may be re-posted in full with attribution.
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