Archive for November, 2009

Sarah Palin – crazy like a fox?

November 30, 2009

Sarah Palin – America’s cross between Evita, Ahmadinejad, and Perot.  Can we count her out of politics just yet?  Perhaps not, especially now that Huckabee seems to have blown his chance at 2012, as a felon he granted clemency is suspected of multiple murder.  With him out of the running, that leaves her the heiress apparent of conservative Republicanism.  Now that she’s quit the governorship, she has no need to worry about doing the wrong thing politically – she can just practice her stump speech on the book tour circuit.  Who will be a good challenger for her among Republicans?  Romney?  Pawlenty?  Another Bush?  Obviously they will have to come up with someone, but which candidate other than Palin is any more exciting than a spreadsheet?

Gold and intrinsic value

November 9, 2009

A loyal reader points me to this interesting article, which repeats the often-made claim that gold has no intrinsic value (“to a reasonable first approximation”).  This claim is accepted by almost everyone, except for a few who believe that gold is the only sound foundation of value.  Unfortunately these people are crazy.

President Ulysses S. Grant says in his memoirs: ‘Both winters  [at school] were spent in going over the same old arithmetic… and repeating: “A noun is the name of a thing,” which I had also heard my Georgetown teachers repeat until I had come to believe it.’  (thanks to another loyal reader for pointing me to this).  Are we like Grant?  Have we heard about gold’s worthlessness so often that we have come to believe it?

We might argue that gold has no intrinsic value, for it does not allow us to survive, as does bread for food, coal for heat, or guns for defense.  But by this argument, few things would have intrinsic value.  What, we might ask, is the intrinsic value of a rose?  Perhaps it produces a nice smell, which at one time was thought to protect against plague.  But in these modern times, surely we recognize this as a barbarous relic, and that roses can be imitated in plastic at a great advantage in cost and durability.

And yet, people still persist in wanting roses, and wanting gold.  Don’t they realize that gold has no intrinsic value?  Would they not be happier with lumps of coal?  Or should we perhaps accept that beauty has some value to people, as does food and heat, and that many find gold and roses beautiful?  And if a rose has some intrinsic value, then how much more should gold, which does not perish or attract bugs?  Perhaps not a thousand dollars an ounce, but significantly more than zero, it seems.

Now, we should not abandon all reason here.  A tulip has intrinsic value, but its price may exceed that value greatly at times.  But we should remember that there is more to life than calories, BTUs, and rounds of ammunition.