Can The U.S. Return To A Gold Standard
Douglas V. Gnazzo
The following is a rejoinder to the article that Alan Greenspan wrote on the subject of whether the United States could return to a gold standard. His article appeared in the Wall St. Journal on September 1, 1981 [Can the US Return to a Gold Standard? by Alan Greenspan]
With the renewed interest in gold by the investment community at large, and this writer's personal belief that gold and silver are destined to play a crucial role in the world's future, gold and silver as Honest Money seems to be an issue whose time has come.
A couple of caveats are in order. Greenspan offered this proposal during the Reagan administration. A committee was formed to investigate the feasibility of such a program. The results have never been made public. Other studies on gold have been done under other administrations as well, one during Bush 1's term in office.
As is obviously apparent, no one seems to take helpful criticism or advice very well when they are the top dog. Hopefully, the fall to the opposite position will not be necessary before alternative ways are found out of today's monetary, financial, and fiscal mismanagement.
Until ways and means of Honest Money of gold and silver are finely given their due chance to shine in the sun.
Sound decisions require a sound mind grounded in a balanced set of ideals to flourish to their full potential. It is time for We The People to take a more direct interest in our own well being, and choose representatives and leaders that are so grounded with their sight keenly cast upon the goals ahead.
To help bring about such a state, we ourselves need to be informed on just what is in our own best interest, and what is not. If we as citizens do not know what it is that We The People - the country, needs and wants, then how can we know if our leaders are making the correct decisions and choices?
They are supposed to represent us. We as good and active citizens need to let them know what it is we want - in what direction we want our country, and lives therein - to take. Then as our leaders, they can reflect our goals and aspirations with their actions, truly representing the people's will, as our forefathers intended.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks of both the government and We The People is that we need to have a basic goal and purpose that the country, and our lives therein, are seeking to realize and become.
It is not enough to merely perpetuate existence - we have known how to do that for a long time, if allowed to freely obtain such. For man to advance further we need to progress by realizing our raison d'etre for being, and to then structure our government and lives to facilitate the actualization of such purpose and being. To take any other course would be selling out our destiny short, and We The People, and our children with it.
With these caveats in mind, let's take a look at what Sir Alan has to offer in regards to a gold standard. Do keep in mind that this dude was born with a silvery tongue, and he has perfected his natural talent quite well, being able to joust with the best of them, most provide no match, and fall by the way, as the titled Sir - so clearly distinguishes.
We will now offer some quotes from Mr. Greenspan's article. Note if you will the tenor of the words and message, especially the one between the lines, as the article proceeds. Carefully observing the use of the English language so employed is like watching a championship ping-pong game - that has been fined tuned over the years to the degree of an art form of sorts.
Not bad so far, the pitch has been made, the game now underway. We are in the bottom of the first. Further along we read:
All in all Mr. Greenspan appears to be looking good. He lays out the supposed reasoning for a gold standard - "the restrictions of gold convertibility" that allude to a sense of discipline in creating federal deficits. Note the first sentence of the second paragraph, which reads: "But with unlimited dollar conversion into gold, the ability to issue dollar claims would be severely limited." It will be revisited shortly. Next, we find what Sir Alan refers to as disturbing alternatives:
Hmm, the infamous change up pitch, a.k.a. a change of tenor. Just when everything was moving along splendidly, we now get a bit of pessimism of things that might occur, seemingly impossible obstacles even for the master magus.
So exactly what is the problem? The chairman, or the undertaker as Ayn Rand referred to him, offers the following possible explanation:
Bummer of bummers - a definite change of tenor. We have gone from saving the world with a gold standard to "the only seeming solution" is to "stabilize the general price level and by inference the dollar price of bullion gold itself."
Well, tis time to get serious, no more mere pretty quotes, now we need to dig deep to find out exactly what is being said, what is meant, and if any of it is correct or not - or if it is all the mere clanging of cymbals in the wind.
Retracing Our Steps
Let's begin the hunt by working our way back from whence "the problem" of returning to a gold standard first reared its ugly head; and to see and understand the significance thereof. Lo and behold, we only have to go back to the preceding three paragraphs by Mr. Greenspan:
What Did He Say
The Master Magus admitted that he was one of "those of us" who are "attracted to gold convertibility" that are faced with an almost impossible task. The impossible task is then said to consist of "the huge world overhang of fiat currency, mainly dollars" that in a gold standard would all represent "the latest claims to gold." Yes, this most undoubtedly would be a tough nut to crack. But does it have to be cracked? Let's find out.
Remember awhile back, we quoted Mr. Greenspan, and said we would return to the issue involved in the quote? Well, the time has arrived. Let's return to the scene of the crime:
Now, Sir Alan correct me if I'm wrong here, but doesn't saying "with unlimited dollar conversion into gold" pretty much equate with "the huge world overhang of fiat currency, mainly dollars" that in a gold standard would all represent "the latest claims to gold."
Unless the present "huge world overhang of fiat dollars" is as great or greater than "unlimited dollar conversion into gold" isn't the Chairman contradicting himself by saying that we face an impossible task of converting the existing supply of dollars into gold?
Well, perhaps the answer is both yes, on the one hand, and no on the other - but yes altogether. Here's why.
From the initial point we began to trace our steps back from, Mr. Greenspan also said, "the immediate problem of restoring a gold standard is fixing a gold price that is consistent with market forces." He then gives examples of setting the price too high or too low; and the problems each scenario could entail.
There really is no need to go into the problems he alludes to by fixing the price too high or too low. The potential problems are inherent in any scheme to fix the price of gold - period.
One cannot set or fix the price of gold that "is consistent with market force" unless one is the market, which I don't think Chairman Greenspan, or the Federal Reserve - qualify as such.
Perhaps in their own minds they may believe they are as omnipotent and omniscient as the market, but such misguided pride would be nothing more than a case of illusion and delusion - as "pride goeth before a fall."
And more importantly, fixing the price of anything is the antithesis of free markets. In a free market price does not get fixed or rigged, the market determines the market price by the laws of supply and demand, subjective and objective valuation, and other free market principles.
Fixing The Price
The setting or fixing of the price of gold is the stuff of illusion and delusion, nothing more, and arguably something less. As has been shown in Honest Money; GOLD: Sovereign of Sovereigns ; and in Silver IS Money - the dollar of the Constitution is a specific weight of silver, commonly known as the Silver Dollar or 371.25 grains of silver.
Legal tender decrees by the government are not the workings of free markets. The fixing of the exchange rate between gold and silver, as was done in the Original Coinage Act of 1792 was a mistake, whether it was intended or not.
The legal tender value between gold and silver was set at a fixed rate. Yet, at the same time the market price of gold and silver was not fixed but moved back and forth daily.
Such a monetary policy is an accident waiting for a time and place to happen. It is completely opposed to the honest principles of free trade and free markets.
But Mr. Greenspan believes that: "the immediate problem of restoring a gold standard is fixing a gold price that is consistent with market forces." How wrong he is - and he knows it.
The current money of the 18th century was originally a weight of silver - the silver dollar. Silver and gold were not priced in dollars; dollars were defined by a specific weight or standard of silver.
The circulating unit of money should be both the unit of account, and the current medium of exchange of the existing monetary system. This specific issue of the money-unit-of-account and medium-of-exchange, will be dealt with in much more detail in a soon to be released paper.
Suffice it to say that Honest Money should only be defined by a specific weight of silver and gold coin. The precious metals are best left to a floating exchange rate between the two, to be determined by the market.
The coins should only be denominated by their weight: as in an ounce of gold, or a pound of silver, not by any other names or measures - by weight and weight only. Nothing more, and nothing less: Honest Money.
We do not daily change the definition of a foot - it is, and remains - 12 inches. We do not daily change the definition of a ton - it is, and remains - 2000 lbs. Would you buy gas for your car or home by the gallon if the amount of ounces in the gallon changed daily? Would you give your child medicine if the numbers of teaspoons in a tablespoon changed daily?
Then why do we accept the fact that the measure of value, the purchasing power, the very definition of our money, is allowed to change daily? Is this not foolishness? But who is perpetrating such foolishness, and on whom? What is the intended purpose? Cui Bono?
If we now go back to Sir Alan's previous statement that "the immediate problem of restoring a gold standard is fixing a gold price that is consistent with market forces", we see that the quote not only goes against free market principles, but it also leaves a minefield in its wake; and the destructive aftermath caused by such foolish babble.
Perhaps the gold standard of foregone days included fixed or rigged markets, however, it is only within a truly free market that gold and silver can blossom to their full potential - when left alone, to do their own thing: the free markets own thing: Honest Money's own thing.
Whenever the ratio of monetary values is fixed or set by the government, by legal decree or tender - free market principles go out the window, the baby gets tossed out with the bath water.
It is a questionable and arguable issue as to whether such fixing was by mistake or design. Once again, the constraints of time and space do not allow for the exploration of such issues in detail, however, these issues will be dealt with in depth, as the weeks and months go by - of that you can rest assured.
The main point presently being made is that Mr. Greenspan was wrong to think or say, "The immediate problem of restoring a gold standard is fixing a gold price that is consistent with market forces." Perhaps this is true in the dream world of paper fiat land that the elite bankers envision and lust for, but such is an anathema to a free society or market.
If gold or silver is to be our money, then it is our money. It does not, and should not, be priced in anything else - it is the value, it is the price of all other goods - by Honest Weights And Measures alone.
To put any other additional nametags on money such as dollars, yen, euros, and renminbi, only confuses the entire basis of all monetary systems, and hence all financial systems and economies based upon them as well; especially if the name also denotes a legal tender or face value different then the free market price of Honest Weights and Measures alone.
Is it not enough to call an ounce of gold - an ounce of gold? Is it not enough to say that the price of a horse is an ounce of gold? The price of a loaf of bread is a quarter ounce of silver? The price of a house is so many ounces of gold or silver? Keep it simple: Honest Weights and Measures. Such will keep them honest as well.
I'll be damned if I know what Greenspan is talking about when he starts throwing around terms like inflation; a gold-based monetary system; price stability; or unlimited dollar conversion into gold. The Greenman is good at that, using all kinds of terms he never defines, so nobody really knows exactly what he is talking about or means; and whether any of it makes sense or cents.
Well, I'll let you in on two secrets of the master magus of the temple: he knows what he is talking about - and what it means. And he knows that it is WRONG - dead wrong.
He also speaks like that because that's what he gets paid to do, to make it all so unintelligible that nobody questions it or him - except for Congressman Ron Paul and a few other true patriots. The rest are sycophantic idol worshippers bowing at the feet of their master.
As I, and many others before me have written, there are many types of inflation. Mises has one of the best definitions when he states:
But be it noted: Mises is talking about monetary inflation, which is the first inflation to rear its ugly head, as the others are born thereof. There is also price inflation, asset inflation, wage inflation, etc.
Monetary inflation is a built-in defect of paper fiat debt-money, an inherent genetic gene of mutation if you will - the seed of its own undoing is within, an inherent mutated gene of self-destruction.
Many analysts and writers speak of monetary inflation as in an increase of the money supply; others speak of price inflation as in the CPI or PPI; some discuss asset inflation as in the real estate market or the bond market.
Seldom is the rider of the pale horse mentioned, all are wary to utter his name. His name is debasement - the destruction of the purchasing power or quality of the currency, of Federal Reserve Notes or dollar bills (note the word bill in the name - as in that which is owed).
It is the debasement of the currency by loss of purchasing power that is the creature born of the beast of paper fiat. By such debasement, a hidden tax is placed upon our heads, as wealth is siphoned off from us all by the loss of the value of our money. Debasement is the worst form of inflation - an abomination that walks the earth by night.
What would you say if you were taxed 95% of everything you earned? Well, because the debasement of the currency you have been so taxed - it's just that you do not see it, hence you do not realize it. This is the reason why prices go up - because the value of your money goes down. Now you know. Vote accordingly.
The Keynesian mindset has been so entrenched into our schooling and way of life that seldom are such misguided beliefs ever questioned. And even when they are, never is the great lie of gold being priced in dollars understood and explained. Nor is the story of how the debasement of the currency transfers wealth from We The People to the would- be-rulers of the universe dare spoken of.
Quantity vs. Quality Theory
The quantity theory of money portrays an illusion of false beliefs. One such belief is that having more units of the currency makes one wealthier.
Another false belief is that to be in the possession of houses, and cars, and boats, and all are other things, makes us wealthier. Does it really?
Do we truly own all of the things we have? Or does the banker who holds the title to all the property really own it all? This makes us wealthier? To be indebted is wealth?
If we do not hold the title free and unencumbered, do we truly own the things, or do we own the debt of the loan that allows us to take possession of those things?
Are we not really "leasing" or "renting" that which appears to be ours, but until the entire mortgage and loans are paid off in full the banker really owns? By accumulating more and more debt, are we becoming wealthier, or deeper in debt - deeper in servitude? And just whom are we serving? Cui Bono?
It is a lie. It is a delusion. It is not wealth. It is debt. We do not own the stuff - the bankers own the stuff. The bankers hold title. We hold the bill, the promise to pay - the obligation to be fullfilled by our labor, our life's work; and perhaps even the life's work of our children and their children.
And Greenspan knows this all too well. For whatever the reason he has turned his back on that which he knows.
He knows that what many call price inflation is simply the debasement of the purchasing power or quality of our money to such a degree that no increase in the quantity makes up for the loss in the quality or value of our money.
He knows that debasement is what causes prices to go up, and the value of our currency to go down.
The fact that the value of our money is going down is the evil curse that makes it take more units of our hard earned money to buy the same amount of goods - thus other goods are said to cost more. To cost more means it takes more units or quantity of money to purchase the same amount of goods.
Why, because the quality or value of the money has been debased. As the Chairman has written:
Although Greenspan speaks much truth in the above, there are still some delusions running amuck. He makes the very honest assertion that "Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth." This is most honest for a political beast or for the undertaker to admit.
Yet a few sentences earlier he states that if citizens "declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods" and that "the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves."
Yes - it is the Truth. If confidence in the currency disappears, bank deposits would lose all of their purchasing power, becoming worth less and less, until worthless as claims on goods. It is the creature named hyperinflation - of runaway inflation.
But what of the statement that there would be no way for owners of wealth to protect themselves. Protect them from what - thieves and vandals, creatures of the night?
Yes, in an odd sort of way. It is the creature of currency debasement that scours the earth searching for its next meal of wealth, which it devours and brings back to its master - at least it did when under the control of the master. But now the beast is out of control, it no longer obeys its handlers - now it only obeys a greater creature - the god of Lucre.
The beast of a higher order of the left hand path is now leading the order of Lucre. They who worship at the altar of Lucre - a false god that will turn on them when the time comes, and come it will. It is called the reckoning - the weighing in the balance. The abyss is waiting below. Behold the rider on the white horse - when night will be no more.
So, the maestro - the master magus - sees some roadblocks ahead in restoring the gold standard of days gone by. Let's peek closer at the tenor of the tune being sung:
This is true. There is an ocean of paper fiat dollars floating about the world - claims, as Mr. Greenspan alluded to - to our wealth. Does that sound like the function of money, to be a claim or bill upon our wealth? That sounds more like a debt or obligation upon our wealth.
An overnight transition to gold convertibility would indeed create a major discontinuity for not only the U.S. financial system, but the world financial system as well. Lest we forget, we have conned the world into accepting Federal Reserve Notes as the world's reserve currency.
Such was the fatal stroke d'egras that can only be wielded by a master magus of the highest order of Lucre - the sword of Damocles swinging down hard.
Ah, but he isn't Sir Maestro for nothing, for the undertaker, as Ayn Rand called him, speaks quite clearly when he says, "But there is no need for the whole block of current dollar obligations to become an immediate claim." In deed, there is no reason at all. It can be done slowly over time. But according to what speed?
By whatever speed the free market dictates. Go into the free market, there you will find whatever means are best suited for the workings of free market principles - of honest supply and demand factors; of honest export trade factors; of honest foreign exchange factors; of honest balance of trade factors.
As many others and I have advocated: there is no need for all paper fiat obligations to be converted into gold immediately - in fact, there is:
Restoration vs. Replacement
What Mr. Greenspan proposes is a restoration of the monetary system - restoring it by what he calls a return to the gold standard, which to him means that Federal Reserve Notes or dollar bills are to be convertible into gold.
But why should FRN's be convertible into gold? Are all of the notes to be so converted? According to what price or exchange will a dollar bill for gold take place? And who decides all such particulars - the undertaker, the same as who got us here to begin with. I think not. I for one will pass.
There is a way out of this mess, however. The Foundation For The Advancement of Monetary Education [FAME - About FAME | What's New], along with many others, advocate the return to the hard money system of our Constitution, where silver and gold coin was our money - not paper claims that were fractionally backed by it.
Open the mint to the free minting of silver and gold bullion brought there by the citizens of the country - minting of bullion into coin according to Honest Weights and Measures. Let the gold and silver coin circulate alongside of the present day Federal Reserve Notes. Then let the free market of We The People decide which they prefer to use.
The original use and intent of the mint when first founded was to mint silver and gold bought in by the citizens, the citizens held title to the silver and gold - not the government or the mint.
This most questionable policy came about through the debasement and devolution of the monetary system through the various monetary acts, some of which are arguably unconstitutional.
The present day U.S. Code and Uniform Commercial Code have lent their two cents worth of nonsense regarding such issues. Where else can you find a statute that states that Federal Reserve Notes are redeemable in lawful money, which means the FRN's must not be lawful money, otherwise why would they need to be redeemed in lawful money, if they already are such? For a more detailed analysis see Honest Money, Part I: The Constitution and Honest Money.
To even consider backing today's near worthless Federal Reserve Notes with gold and silver based on the amount of purchasing power retained by such notes (5%) since 1913, is but another step down the slippery road of monetary debasement, headed directly towards perdition.
Either Greenspan isn't as smart as I think he is, or he is still towing the political line - anchor, ship, and all. If he doesn't soon cut bait - he may find the anchor dragging him down. Tis an expensive price exacted to do the Sir Lordship gig.
Lest We Forget
Chairman Greenspan ends his paper with the following admonition:
The ironies that a silvery smooth tongue can utter without choking are a wonder to behold. So Mr. Greenspan believes, or at least he states - that to "return our monetary system to gold convertibility is no mere technical, financial restructuring. It is a basic change in our economic processes."
Well of course, it is - and so it has been. The change from a gold standard to a gold exchange system was one of significance. And now the present monetary system, which is based on debt and more debt, represents at least a basic change to our economic processes, if not to the very fabric and soul of our country.
And lest we forget, there was another system prior to any gold convertibility system or gold standard: the original hard money system of The Constitution and the Original Coinage Act of 1792 -
of silver and gold coin, and no bills of credit.
A gold convertible monetary system or gold standard
Be not deceived by all the smooth talk and rhetoric, it is nothing more than sophisticated babble, meant to confuse and distort the Truth. The Truth is written in our Constitution - go there in search thereof.
Apparently, Mr. Greenspan has not studied our most glorious piece of literature, or he has forgotten his lessons, or no longer believes in them. Congressman Ron Paul has, and does, and says so all the time. He even asks Mr. Greenspan questions before Congress about such matters. How is he answered? By the speaking in tongues of babble - Greenspeak some dare call it.
It is time for straight talk. It is time for Honest Money. It is time that...
Douglas V. Gnazzo©2005 Douglas V. Gnazzo. All rights reserved.
All other views and comments are invited.