I’m working on a short article about this peculiar fetish (i.e. the gold fetish). The more I read, the more I find statements like “Gold is money, and money retains its value” to be foolish.
Think about it this way: if I were to offer you an ounce of gold (no strings attached), would you take it? Most rational people would say yes. The interesting thing is, most won’t take it because they will be able to use it for electronics, jewelry, or dentistry, they will take it and turn it in for fiat money. And the person they give the gold to will likely keep it in a safe somewhere.
The point I’m trying to get at is that gold has whatever value people give to it. Yes, historically gold has been used as a currency. But, and I may be missing something here, it seems like it is all in our heads. Compared to other commodities, gold’s current utility (excluding the ability to exchange it for other commodities) is limited.
Its value is based largely on tradition. And, even then, that tradition is mired in all sorts of business failings and market crashes that goldbugs fail to mention. Gold has not prevented inflation, as new gold deposits are found value of current gold holdings drop (although how much gold is left to be found is up to debate). And there have been plenty of depressions and recessions with gold as a standard. Another problem is gold hoarding which reduces the amount of gold (i.e. money) in circulation. Actually, because of gold’s inelasticity, a gold standard tends to restrain and even stiffle economic growth. From what I have gathered so far, most people are much better off without a gold standard, despite what Dr. Ron Paul says.
I’m still trying to parse it all; I’ll post more later. For now, enjoy:
A highly technical look at the gold fetish: “Leprechaun, gimme da gold” rap video. You have to admit, Mr. T is highly convincing.