"By the experience of commercial nations in all ages it has been found that gold and silver afford the only safe foundation for a monetary system. Confusion has recently been created by variations in the relative value of the two metals, but I confidently believe that arrangements can be made between the leading commercial nations which will secure the general use of both metals. Congress should provide that the compulsory coinage of silver now required by law may not disturb our monetary system by driving either metal out of circulation. If possible, such an adjustment should be made that the purchasing power of every coined dollar will be exactly equal to its debt-paying power in all the markets of the world."
James A. Garfield
(1831-1881) 20th President of the United States (1881), assassinated
Inaugural Address, March 14, 1891
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Reader comments about this quote:
Spoken like a true politician. Says one thing and does another.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Gold is a soft basically useless metal. It's color is pretty but you can't eat it or use it for much else. Playing with gold is like plaaying with oneself.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    Soft and useless, yeah, right ... Gold has several applications: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold
     -- Bryan Morton, Stuart, Florida     
    Waffler is in need of serious help. He's better to be pittied than censored.
     -- jim k, austin     
    Jim, if you are not going to contribute then don't. What is gold and coinage but a form of bartering. Gold and coinage just took over from the barter system so that you could exchange goods without the need to have something that someone else wants. Hey, instead of giving you a cow for six sheep (which you don't have) I'll give you gold or coinage then you can buy six sheep. Waffler you are very close to the truth, others need to get a life.
     -- RBESRQ     
    Waffler misses the point entirely. The reason precious metals became common as a medium for trade was because of their intrinsic value - something fiat currency lacks unless you're short on fish wrappers or toilet paper.
     -- Bryan Morton, Stuart, Florida     
    The nation (the new compulsory 'union') was reeling from the national bank scams that followed Lincoln's death. Garfield was trying to bridge the divide between North and South still. He was trying to get the country back to a Constitutional money system of gold and silver -- the values of which were still not allowed to float freely which caused the periodic hording of one metal over another. Garfield was later assassinated -- again, another challenger to the private banking monopolies is murdered in office.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    It really doesn't matter what we use as currency, so long as everyone accepts it. What gives money its value, whether it be gold or dollars, is its acceptability. Sure gold has several applications, but their viability is circumstantial. Gold has an intrinsic value if you happen to be making a ring or a circuit board, but by the same token dollars have an intrinsic value if you need to wrap fish or wipe your ass. The point I want to make is that the likelihood of using your money for its intrinsic purpose is very minimal. What gives money value is its acceptablility regardless of what is used to serve as money.
     -- Jake, Austin     
    .... Acceptability is established by governments. By collecting taxes, government is the most universal acceptor of public funds. If the government calls it acceptable, people will use it. Just look at the dollar. A one dollar bill has an equal intrinsic value to a 100 dollar bill but we accept them differently because thats the money system we have in place. While the gold system was much more stable than the current dollar system because of the difficulty in abusing it, it was still far from perfect.
     -- Jake, Austin     
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