Crypt currencies

It is often said that, in the event of total economic collapse, gold will be useless because you can’t eat it. Horde beans instead. I must have taken this to heart because, up here in the High Doganate, I keep a good supply of yellow split peas, lentils, dried egg noodles, rice, and most important, tea. Should the electricity still be running, I’d be able to last for weeks until help arrived from an unexpected source, that had been hiding behind the planet Neptune.

Notwithstanding, gold has a fine glitter, and even if I were feeling quite hungry, I might still idly stoop to collect some stray gold eagle or krugerrand that had fallen in the street; some little scattering of gold sovereigns; any old ducats or florins, mohurs or nomismata that some despairing coin collector had tossed; even malformed lumps of gold bullion. You never know, someone might want it.

Let it also be said that you can eat it. Visit a Bengali sweet shop and observe, that gold and silver can be beaten so thin, they makes edible wraps for candy. The Magic Oven in East Parkdale does a pizza with gold flakes for customers of a certain temperament; and I’ve read of a Manhattan truck that offers a “Douche Burger” for $666. This is Kobe beef with foie-gras stuffing, under gruyere melted in champagne steam, topped with caviar, truffles, lobster, and a kopi luwak barbecue sauce (made from the coffee-berry excrement of Indonesian palm civets). But where’s the gold, gentle reader is asking? It comes wrapped in a (gluten-free) gold foil.

Too much fuss and bother, I judge. Me, I will stick with ground lamb under oka, in a buttermilk bun. Condiments would ruin it.

Now, I’ve drifted from this morning’s topic, which is crypt currencies. These may be distinguished from crypto-currencies by their density. Gold is the chief one, to the point of being a satchel-carriage problem, at more than half an Imperial tonne per cubic foot. Even silver, at around seven hundred pounds, makes it hard to run when the cops arrive. And you’ll need lots of friends for a platinum heist.

Diamonds I leave out of this account, for although much lighter (at a half cubic foot, one could almost lift the bag), they are individuals. I want something that can be melted down.

It is true that the price-value of precious metals can be volatile. This became much truer when they were formally demonetized, and I could no longer exchange my small banknote earnings for real silver dollars. (You could do that dollar-for-dollar at any Canadian bank, when I was a kid.) But when monetized on a large scale (as gold, internationally, at the height of the gold standard) they become remarkably stable.

I am of the old school in several ways (more every day), and of course, people like me demand a return to that very gold standard, which did not survive the Keynesian circus after World War One. We think the ideal rate of inflation is 0.0 percent. We are extremely naïve.

In theory, I could accept a currency backed by some mixed basket of commodities, that honest bankers could adjust to maintain constant transaction values. This could be done over a long period, were men always honest, and their motives always pure. In practice, I don’t trust the creatures. The difficulty with any fancy proposal, is that it is fancy. Whereas, gold is so simple. You have it or you don’t.

Now, crypto-currencies are intentionally complicated, so that if you want to “mine bitcoin” on computers in your basement, you can also heat your house. They are ridiculously volatile, so that lottery tickets might be the better bet. Or Dutch tulip bulbs, now that the market for them has settled.

The Swiss Federal Council has ruled, that bitcoin cannot rightly be called a pyramid or ponzi scheme, because there is no promise of profit. They called it instead a “collective delusion.” Many of these work, while the delusion lasts. But all end in tears.

Whereas, crypt currencies could be exhumed from the grave, and go right back to work, status-quo-ante.