Home » Gerald Holland: A secret history of money

Gerald Holland: A secret history of money

by Minden Press-Herald

At first, money was when a man saw a girl he wanted, he would catch a few wild goats, go to her daddy and say, ‘I’ll trade you some goats for your daughter.” The father would say “yea” or “nay” and they would bargain to make a trade. This was called a barter system.

Some time later, the brutes saw shiny flecks in the rocks and dirt. The were charmed by the shiny objects, so they collected some, calling them gold and silver. They would swap some of the pretty stuff for women.

More time passed and fire was discovered. With fire, the aboriginals melted some of the gold and silver flecks and it cooled into lumps.

The lumps were easier to carry so the men could roam farther looking for women and other necessities. 

Eventually, greedy thugs came on the scene. They beat up people and took their gold lumps and women, instead of working to earn their own. These were called kings. Kings decided it would be good for them to flatten out lumps of gold and imprint their profile on them so their subjects would recognize them, bow and give them more gold when they came by.

That’s the way money was for a few thousand years. If you wanted to buy something, you paid for in in gold or silver coins. If kings wanted to make war on their neighbors and take stuff from them, they paid for the war with gold and silver, a lot of which was seized from the victim kingdoms.

Later, the rulers found they couldn’t keep enough precious medals on hand to pay for their ventures. They came up with a scheme in which kings gave out pieces of paper that had a promise on it saying the holder of the paper could exchange it for gold or silver any time they wanted to. This was called a gold standard.

When people got fed up with the way rulers were seizing paper money from them and spending it foolishly, they would go to banks and exchange their paper for gold or silver. This was called a panic, or a run on the dollar. 

Ater this happened a few times, rulers ordered people to turn in their gold or silver certificates.  The rulers said, “We will store all the money- gold at a place guarded by an army so it will be safe for your security. If foreign rulers have more of our paper money than they want, we will give them gold for that paper. But the people can’t have any of it.” This was called a gold reserve.

Next, when one ruler decided that another was spending more than was prudent, he would turn in the paper money he owned of the splurging country and demand a shipment of gold bars in exchange. This was called a gold-exchange standard.

Rulers kept spending lavishly and their gold reserves were quickly running out. So, they announced that they would pay less gold for their paper money that was owned by other rulers. This was called de-valuation.

Even that did not slow down squander by the rulers.  They proclaimed that they would pay nothing for the paper other rulers had. They said, “We will hoard gold like misers to give an impression of monetary strength, but no person or ruler can have any of it.” This was called “A shocking end to gold convertibility.”

Presently, there is no basis for the value of money. Money is merely worth the number of turnips that a seller will let you have in exchange for a piece of paper, or an electronic transfer. This can be called a turnip monetary system.

But cyber money has arrived, which is a private investment type of turnip currency.  It has no backing and no standard.

So, like government-ruler money, its real value is less than the goat-herd standard that cave men had.

Gerald Holland lives in Springhill.

Related Posts