What if the gold standard is not an antique but, rather, a “timeless classic” (as termed in a speech by Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann in September 2012)? High tech guru George Gilder deploys cutting-edge science to show why this is so, based on Shannon information theory. Gilder’s analysis is neither eccentric nor anomalous.
The intellectual pedigree of the classical gold standard runs through two of the greatest scientists in history: Copernicus and Newton. Nicolas Copernicus, in his Essay on the Minting of Money eloquently lays out the scientific foundations of the classical gold standard.
Sir Isaac Newton, as Master of the Royal Mint of Great Britain, created what became the modern classical gold standard. This was a fact well known by President Jefferson, as astutely noted by Dr. Judy Shelton in erudite commentary to her definitive edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the Establishment of A Monetary Unit. Under the Newtonian gold standard, with variants, the world economy thrived for almost 200 years.
The gold standard also was one of the few things that both Jefferson, and his arch-rival in Washington’s cabinet, Alexander Hamilton, fully agreed. The gold standard’s intellectual provenance, both in deep scientific history and among the founders of America, really is impeccable.
Copernicus and Newton, of course, are figures from the deep past. Jefferson, slightly more contemporary, was extolled by President Kennedy at a dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners when he greeted them as “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Copernicus and Newton, timeless classics, remain appropriately revered as two of the greatest members of the scientific pantheon. Their discoveries — Heliocentricity, and the Three Laws of Motion — remain central to science. Old does not equal atavistic. Now let’s get modern.
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Ralph Benko, internationally published weekly columnist, co-author of The 21st Century Gold Standard, lead co-editor of the Gerald Malsbary translation from Latin to English of Copernicus’s Essay on Money, is American Principles in Action’s Senior Advisor, Economics.