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Sound Money: Fight for It!

Mises Daily: Thursday, September 29, 2011 by

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As a thought experiment, suppose you knew you were going to die three months from now. Further, suppose some multibillionaire hears of your impending death and decides to make you an offer: He will produce a 30-second TV commercial of your final message to the world and air it during the 2012 Super Bowl and the Summer Olympics in London. It will also be aired at appropriate times during the presidential debates next year. In addition, he will run a highly creative ad campaign encouraging people to watch your parting message.

So, here's the deal: You've got thirty seconds. You'll have a big audience. What would you say?

I knew immediately what my message would be, though not exactly how I would say it. I thought about what my message implied about my life and the world, and came away satisfied with my decision.

Then I considered what others might say. I could easily imagine any number of people issuing a message of love. Stop hating and love. Make love, not war. They might even recite the popular Biblical passage, 1 Corinthians 13: "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

I recalled Mel Gibson's final message as Sir William Wallace in the movie Braveheart. For leading a revolt against the treacherous King Edward I of England, Wallace has been brought to the Tower of London for public torture and execution. Eager to see a traitor get his just punishment, the crowd watches as he's half-hanged, racked, and disemboweled. Before the final deathblow he's given one last chance to confess his treason. By this time the crowd is calling for mercy. Already near death, Wallace summons the last of his strength and shouts "Freedom!" before the ax comes down on his neck.

Perhaps you would secure the rights to play Gibson's final word as the core of your parting message. You could do much worse.

I thought of what certain others might say — Obama, Hillary, Krugman, Bernanke. What would be the Fed chairman's parting words? Would he decline the offer? He probably would, but if he didn't, I can't imagine him shouting "Inflate!" or "Accommodate!" And yet this is what the man does for a living. Shouldn't he choose to die supporting the values he has lived by? Can you imagine Obama shouting "Change!" or Hillary shouting "It takes a village!"? Didn't think so. Or how about Krugman calling for perpetual bubbles so we don't have to fake a space invasion?

Others might take the opportunity to tell a joke, on the grounds that the world needs more laughter. The danger there is that no one would think it's funny. Some would encourage people to care better for their children, as they are the future. Those soured by the whole human race might tell the world off. A few might smile pleasantly at the camera and say nothing, as they did throughout their lives. Smiles shouldn't be dismissed lightly. We couldn't go through our days without them.

The possibilities are endless.

My Message

The world has seen gold soar in price for over a decade because people grew increasingly distrustful of the appointed money printers, especially the ones at the Federal Reserve. For many investors, I suspect, gold has been little more than a safe port in a storm. When the storm passes, it's on to something else. I wonder if they've ever considered what it would be like if they didn't need an "inflation hedge" or a "safe haven."

That would be my point. In my thirty seconds of fame I would tell people they need to be using a market-based money. Facing the camera with an American gold eagle in one hand, I might say, "See this? Can't print it. But this — " I would add while holding a Fed dollar in my other hand, "can be printed to send your loved ones off to unnecessary wars, bail out politically connected corporations, and drain your savings. You need a monetary system that works for you, not them. Fight for it!"

The Mises Institute offers an extensive library of literature explaining the economics behind an autonomous commodity-coin system. But you don't need to be an Austrian to appreciate the value of gold. In 1914 Europe went to war. Three years later it was officially a world war. For this to happen the belligerents (with the exception of the late-entry United States) had to go off the gold standard. It wasn't the men doing the fighting who made the decision. It was the politicians who sent them to fight — and die in the millions. And what did they die for? The rest of the bloody century, and now the new century with the world still at war and teetering on financial collapse. The killing had to be funded, and that meant gold had to be abandoned.

Isn't it ironic that gold and the gold standard have been dubbed the barbarous relic when it's the paper systems that are forced on us that are reducing the world to barbarism?