Here’s a thought for you: gold is essentially worthless.
The Indians reportedly called gold that yellow rock that white people like so much. Gold does have its uses. It would be good on my flute because it doesn’t tarnish. It makes nice jewelry, if you care about such things. It has certain unique uses in electronics and science. But that’s it. Not much to recommend it, overall.
We consider gold valuable, but is it actually valuable to us, or merely costly? The things that are the most valuable to us have nothing to do with their market price. And we all know what those things are, because they are clichés. Love, friendship, health, leisure, family, loyalty, community, honor, dignity… They cannot be quantified and have no market value.
Gold is essentially worthless.
A true story I read some time ago: A Wall Street bankster, who had a loving wife and daughter, had devoted all his time to making more and more money. Unexpectedly, he was diagnosed with a fatal cancer, and he suddenly realized that he had wasted his life. He sank into a depression and died deeply regretting all the useless extra money he had earned while his family was home without him. A literal case of the old saying that nobody dies wishing they had spent more time at the office.
Besides gold, money has limited utility too. Beyond a level adequate to provide for life’s basics, including such things as health care and old age savings, additional money is only marginally useful in terms of happiness. This has been confirmed a number of times. You’d never know that by looking at all the Americans who define themselves by what they own.
America from the beginning
was known primarily for avarice.
Remember that scathing dictum about someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I once knew a person like that. Such a person is one who sees everything and everyone as equivalent to a quantity of cash, not as valuable in themselves. To such a person, friendship is useless if it doesn’t “pay”, if there isn’t some way for him to literally profit from it.
America from the beginning was known primarily for avarice. Alexis de Tocqueville remarked extensively on this trait in the 19th century, and so have many others. In America, it is nearly impossible for government to do something for the sole reason that it would be the right thing to do, unless profit is involved. In many other countries, it would be difficult to pass a law if it was not the right thing to do.
The US is an amazing place in so many ways, but I wish the primary requirement for any law would be that it helps people, and does not hurt them. We have many laws that are passed because of other requirements—most of them having to do with money—but they too often end up hurting people even as they benefit Big Business. This is why we have record inequality and many millions of citizens with no health care or retirement savings. Making laws for the sake of money has hurt all these people.
I wish the primary requirement for any law
would be that it helps people,
and does not hurt them.
So when we try to evaluate our national wellbeing, we should not look to gold, or its dollar equivalent, to find its measure. What makes the good life is not money. Everyone needs income a bit above the amount needed to buy essentials, including health care and provision for old age. That’s not a lot. The measure of our true wealth comes not from the extra money we have to buy “stuff”. Our true wealth comes from the things that have been in constant decline for far too many people. Community, family, love, diversity, music, food, and all the rest.
The Dow and the national debt don’t even enter the picture. The price of gold is irrelevant.