Saturday, August 20, 2011

There's funny money in them thar hills

What's funny is that, every now and then in history, gold re-establishes itself as the de facto invisiblo reserve currency, in spite of what the central bankers and talking-head journalists of the world try to do otherwise.

We know that democrats, socialists and populists do not like this trend, but the sequestered "rich", who lurk acquisitively in the holds of their yachts and in the shadows of their McMansions, do like it. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. So what else is new.

All this talk about dividing folk into classes and then setting them against each other is Marxian boilerplate hot air to inflate riotous passions and fiat currencies. And although there is certainly some truth to it, all this class-identity disruptive rhetoric is no excuse for rabble ruffians to be running roughshod over small mainstreet business establishments in Wisconsin or Philadelphia or London or wherever the discontented are roused from their couches. Nor is it defensible moral fodder for severing privately-owned, publicly-utilized fiberoptic communication lines.

Back in 1896, William Jennings Bryan pointed out to his grassroot-gathered supporters that there are two types of government:

There is the (paraphrasing) Republican trickle-down type, who legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous. Then the wealth ostensibly drips down to everybody else. You've heard of this; the analogy became widespread during the Reagan years. I would point out that Marie Antoinette had, back in 18th-century France, infamously embodied the upper end caricature of this economic arrangement when she had heartlessly uttered the slogan of the Bourbonites, Let them eat cake.

But here in America, a hundred or more years later, William Jennings Bryan described his second category of government as the (paraphrasing) Democratic percolate-up type. They legislate to make the masses prosperous. The wealth then percolates up from the laboring, resource-driven productivity of the people, and thus nourishes the upper social regions as it passes through industrially.

And the esteemed Mr. Bryan said, famously, at the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1896, that the rich Republican crowd were trying to nail the working folks to a cross of gold by insisting on the rigid gold standard instead of the more malleable, accessible silver standard.

Though he was an fiery orator and a charismatic leader without parallel, William Jennings Bryan lost that 1896 Presidential election to the Republican, William McKinley. And then they had, amazingly, an uninstant replay four years later when McKinley was re-elected in 1900.

That 1900 election was a kind of sitcom pilot for the cyclical reruns that would characterize much of 20th century American politics, especially the Bush-Gore contention that came exactly a hundred years later in 2000.

Dems and Repubs are always at each other throats, some times more than others. Just now though, the fireworks, rhetoric and bluster seem to be intensifying. The Dems see their liquidity-easing policies as justified, beginning a third of the way through the 20th century, by their anointed prophet, Maynard G. Keynes--or excuse me, that's John Maynard Keynes. Now Krugman and Reich and that stimulus-addicted crowd want to liquify the rigid constraints of the bogeyman Corporate "rich" so that the greenbacks will percolate, William Jennings Bryan style, up through the fissures of job-generating governmental largesse. Those fissures should be facilitated and regulated by community organizers and unionbosses and government employees instead of, say, corporate directors, "rich" investors, and Texans.

While everybody is arguing about politics and money, as if there were a difference between them, the smartest guys in the room (or so they think themselves to be and they may be correct in their assessment) are buying gold like crazy.

Those gold-acquirers are looking for some incorruptible way to consolidate their wealth into a specie that escapes devaluation. They are buying the precious metal now because, well...

Who you gonna call when you need some reál value?, amidst debt crisis in America, sovereign debt precipice in Euroland, and the Chinese, who are bellyaching because all their meticulously-gathered dollars are being devalued, and their renminbi is still yuaning like an adolescent who just got up at noon and stumbles onto the world monetary stage. Who you gonna call? Ben Bernanke? Ron Paul? Angela Merkel? Who's the grownup in the room? Harry Reid? Pat Toomey?

So I think it inevitable that the gold standard in some form or another is probably going to re-emerge, as has happened cyclically in the histories of human commerce, in spite of all the special drawing rights and myriad currencies that float flotsam-like upon the oceans of global liquidity. And I suppose that all those day-trading smartest guys, riding high on their speculative see-saws of keyboard frenzy, in bubblesome combo with the methish high-freq hedgehogs, will emerge as the new kings of the western-hemisphere hill when th detritus of international wealth settles into a pile, two or ten years from now.

Or maybe all of commerce, accounting, and wealth will go electronic, and those elusive gold reserves will be soldered as conductors into smart circuitboards that will determine every person's caste, class and purchasing power when they're standing in the checkout at World Mart.

... while Horatio Alger hides in an ally somewhere near MainStreet. Or, if you're a Brit, HighStreet.

I'm not saying we should get back to the gold standard as a means to establish predictable value in the world marketplace. God knows I don't have any of the stuff, except for the little ring that's been on my finger for thirty-one years (which is the true wealth in this life.) But I do know that numerous entities and persons with assets are buying gold like its goin out of style, as it has done numerous unsustainable times before. This feverish demand for the precious yellow stuff is driving up the price up to boot, in anticipation of fiat paper descending to its authentic, incendiary value.

Somewhere, somehow, when you least expect it, the battle between real wealth and perceived wealth will be settled in a showdown, maybe at high noon in the OK corral, or maybe in your own backyard.

Got heirloom seeds?

Glass Chimera

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