On March 25 of this year, Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law the Utah Legal Tender Act, making gold and silver coin legal tender in a state for the first time in more than a century. Nearly six months to the day after that groundbreaking event, more than 150 people gathered in Salt Lake City to deliberate over the next steps for sound monetary reform. It was no less historic an occasion.
The theme of the conference was "choice in currency." By treating gold and silver coin as money, the legal tender law offers citizens an alternative to paper U.S. dollars. Many summit attendees fully expect to see, within the near future, the people of Utah exercising their new monetary rights by using precious metal as a medium of exchange in commerce at its fair market value, either in coin form or using debit cards backed by the same. Such voluntary action by the general public at the state level will send a strong signal to the Federal Reserve concerning dissatisfaction with its inflationary policies.
While it is too early to say what the endgame will be for the monetary system, the 25 speakers at the summit presented credible reform plans ranging from a de facto restoration of the gold standard to privately issued money. Such concepts were presented not in an esoteric way, but as practical solutions to what citizens are seeking: sound money reliably holding stable value over time. In discussing workable solutions, the presenters necessarily cast light on the dysfunction and inequity of the status quo.
While inflation generally creeps upwards, energy and food prices have skyrocketed over the last few years. Just as disconcerting, is the economic stagnation resulting from easy money. The zero interest rate set by the Fed has stalled the market for credit by driving lenders and borrowers away from one another with an artificially depressed price of money. Sound money is now not just a call for a return to fundamental principles, it is a cry for relief from the economic misery we have experienced the last four years.
It is also a call for a revival of the American social contract. Addressing a large dinnertime audience at the summit, American Principles Project Chairman Sean Fieler described how this idea — that anyone, including the average guy, can get ahead through hard work and ingenuity — has been seriously eroded by the inequality that paper money has created. Since the U.S. broke the dollar's link to gold in 1971, median household income has barely risen, and then only as a result of the general move towards two-income households.