Reductio ad Absurdum: Money, Gold, and a Little Known GOP Plank
Much has already been said about the Republican Party platform in recent days, especially regarding the Rape Plank, which bans all abortions, even for pregnancies that result from rape. Unlike everyone else in the universe, I actually sat down and read the whole platform the other day, to much laughter and head-shaking—from me, I should clarify.
Apart from the obviously cruel and anti-American planks like the one mentioned above and the one telling everyone who they can and can’t marry, I found a hidden gem that truly delighted me by its almost mythic stupidity: the Gold Standard Plank.
The Republican Party platform calls for a return to the gold standard—well, for a commission to study the return anyway. It’s not something that can be done overnight. On the surface, this plank is simply an ass-kiss to the Ron Paulians, who tend to be big supporters of the gold standard. God knows the Republicans need every vote, what with the browning of America and all, but there’s more to it than just politics, I feel.
Nice guy that I am, I thought I’d save everybody the trouble of studying a return to the gold standard by writing a handful of paragraphs using only common sense and my computer keyboard:
The desire to link the dollar with gold, whether it be by Republicans or the Ron Paulians (who, by the way, are not libertarians), is simply a desire to turn our money into something real. It still won’t be real, of course, but it will seem, at least, more real: Gold is shiny! Therefore, it actually has value!
There is in existence about $8.5 trillion dollars. Our national debt, however, is $15.9 trillion. This debt is entirely the fault of Obama and has absolutely nothing at all to do with the fact that 53 cents of every dollar taken in taxes is spent on the military. Nothing at all. Ahem. So, if we use all the U.S. dollars currently existing, including the 23 bucks in your purse and the change on your dresser, we will only be able to pay about half the debt. All of the money in the world will be gone, paid to our creditors, and we will still owe them about $8 trillion dollars.
How is it that we can owe more money than there is money? Easy: we made it all up. Money is a figment of our imagination, and its divisions into amounts and denominations are simply divisions and denominations of nothing. 15.9 trillion units may seem like a lot until you remember that it is 15.9 trillion units of absolutely nothing. When philosophers contend that modern human society is at bottom nihilist, they ain’t a-kiddin’.
Tying our money to gold would mean that we’d need to find a lot more gold. The U.S. holds 8,133 metric tons of gold reserves, according to the World Gold Council—about 260 million ounces. The current market price for gold is about $1,667 an ounce, making our reserves worth around $435 billion. So, instead of there being $8.5 trillion dollars worth of pretend money, there’d only be $435 billion dollars worth of real(er) money. Instead of paying down half of the pretend debt with every last cent of the pretend money, we’d only be able to pay down three percent of the pretend debt with every last cent of the real(er) money. In fact, all of the gold currently in existence, owned by the various countries of the world, would not add up to enough to pay off our pretend debt.
The gold standard would make every dollar in “existence” convertible to a tiny amount of gold. Since we have all agreed that there are so many dollars (remember, all of these dollars exist only in our mind by collective agreement), there’s simply not enough gold on this planet, mined or unmined, to cover everything.
I don’t know about you, but I actually find this quite hilarious—especially when you consider that there are serious and apparently educated people out there who really think it could work.
Oh, humanity, why you so silly?
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