This article was written for Miles Franklin by Gary Christenson, with appreciation for Led Zeppelin who wrote and performed “Stairway to Heaven.”
The Stairway To Heaven
“There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.”
Led Zeppelin released the iconic song “Stairway to Heaven” in 1971, shortly after President Nixon released the dollar from gold backing. The dollar plummeted in purchasing power. The following provides a perspective on inflationary price increases.
Prices are much higher! Severing the final connection between gold and the U.S. dollar did not create a stairway to economic heaven. Instead, the dollar lost purchasing power and an inflationary disaster occurred.
“Heaven” means something different depending on expectations, religion, culture and background. Financial examples of heaven could be:
Heaven for central bankers might be inflation of 2% to 4% every year. They increase debt, diminish purchasing power and increase currency in circulation, but not so much that people march in protest or hang central bankers in effigy.
The increased currency in circulation encourages the false belief that people are wealthier, but the massive debt requires huge interest payments that transfer wealth to the financial elite.
The central bankers increase their power and influence and purchase more congresspersons. Wall Street approves. Usually it’s “tough luck” for the middle class and the poor.
Heaven for a politician might be the chairmanship of an important committee. He or she approves appropriations after receiving sufficient contributions from affected corporations.
Politicians often retire wealthy.
Heaven might be an expanded war, a new war or enemy. Read Bill Holter. Worries about Russia transferred many $ trillions from the U.S. government to military contractors. The consequences are unpayable national debt, huge interest payments, consumer price inflation, and military influence over government decisions.
Heaven might be increasing income and stable expenses. The citizen would enjoy more disposable income, a better lifestyle and a comfortable retirement.
Central bankers and politicians made stable expenses a distant memory relevant only to the years before a consortium of bankers purchased the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.
Income for the average person has increased since 1971 when measured in devalued dollars, but purchasing power has declined. More disposable income and a comfortable retirement are difficult for the average person if they trust debt based dollars.
Hard Money Advocate:
Heaven for a “hard money” advocate might be a modified gold standard. Paper and digital currency units (dollars) would circulate but each unit would be backed and convertible into gold bullion. Pretend the Fort Knox gold still exists, and gold is valued at 10,000 devalued dollars per ounce. Each dollar is convertible into one-ten-thousandth of an ounce of gold.
These changes in currency units might stabilize prices. The “hard money” economy would require responsible government, intelligent management, and balanced budgets. A central bank would not be needed.
The difficulties reaching that hard money heaven are obvious.
As a Miles Franklin reader, you realize central bankers, politicians and military contractors are often detrimental to your finances. While the hard money vision of heaven makes sense, unbacked debt based digital and paper currency units are unlikely to disappear.
Your Heavenly Solution:
- Central bankers and politicians will not voluntarily change a system that benefits them. Tax cuts, more spending, out-of-control transfer payments, entitlements, wars, Big Pharma, bankers, and military contractors will make certain that spending, debt and devaluation increase.
- Consumer price inflation will accelerate when individuals worry about inflation. “Spend it now while the currency unit is worth something. Don’t wait.”
- Billions of people experienced runaway inflations. The United States has avoided rapid inflation since the 1970s. That will change in several years.
- What retains value? Not dollars, euros, yen, or pounds!
- Gold and silver come to mind. They have retained value for thousands of years while hundreds of unbacked currency units have been created, over-printed, devalued, and destroyed.
- The dollar may not exist in 100 years. It will not buy as much food, gasoline, or medical care in ten years as it will purchase today.
- Gold and silver probably will purchase more food, gasoline and medical care in ten years than today.