Solid Gold Dunces

Here’s noted free-marketeer, Milton Friedman on the fascination for gold and its implications for libertarian values:

“I do believe that every individual should be free to own, buy, and sell gold. If under those circumstances a private gold standard emerged, fine—although I make a scientific prediction that it’s very unlikely. But I think those people who say they believe in a gold standard are fundamentally being very anti-libertarian because what they mean by a gold standard is a governmentally fixed price for gold.”

I would go further and say that some of what one reads from gold fanatics seems to border on idolatry. There is nothing magical or special about gold, it’s just another element on the periodic table. Why gold? Why not silver? Iron? How about oil, because that stuff matters and arguably drives our economy. Saying that gold is the only “real currency” is as much some kind of fiat as any kind of valuation of government debt. The very idea of a free market is that things are only worth what people think that they are worth. To elevate gold outside of this system seems arbitrary to me.