Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Meaning and Value of Gold (Glen Allport)

Glen Allport discusses why gold has intrinsic value, and why returning to a system of gold money could literally save millions of lives:

In libertarian and pro-gold circles, it is common to hear that "gold has intrinsic value." That sentiment is based on an important kernel of truth, although the wording is colloquial rather than precise; like the commonplace use of "weight" in situations where "mass" is meant or saying "the sun rises in the east" (when the Earth rotates instead), the assertion that "gold has intrinsic value" is true informally but not technically – in the case of value, because a necessary element is assumed and left unspoken. Because the informal meaning seems clear, I have been surprised to find frequent and often heated discussion on the topic, but then gold itself is an emotional topic for several reasons. The argument over gold's "intrinsic value" would be simply a minor squabble over semantics except for one thing: the question of gold's value, or lack thereof, is sometimes used to support positions that are not only wrong but actively harmful. Given the importance of gold to human well-being – a subject I expand upon below – and also given that I have used the phrase "gold has intrinsic value" myself, perhaps it is time to address the topic directly and to clarify my meaning.

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