Hearkening to Hayek: How About a Free Competition Between Bitcoin, Paper Money, and

That object of volatile speculation, the Bitcoin, is not a physical coin or any physical object at all. It is certainly not a gold coin and is not redeemable or backed by anything, let alone gold coins. Yet it is endlessly pictured in press illustrations as a gold coin with a “B” stamped on it.

Go ahead, kid me. These illustrations are a notable marketing success for Bitcoin, but why is there such an urge among publishers to show Bitcoins as gold coins? Not one of them would dream of illustrating United States dollars as gold coins — though our own government has tried the trick.

Gold coins are physical reality, while Bitcoins, being electronic accounting entries in a complex computer algorithm, never are. Gold coins with their durability, beauty, and scarcity will still be there even if all electric systems are knocked out and your computers don’t work at all.

The ubiquitous visual suggestion that Bitcoins are gold coins is, though, a misrepresentation. How could one more accurately suggest in an illustration the electronic accounting entry which Bitcoin is, given that one can’t actually draw a Bitcoin? Could one  show a drawing of a computer screen with Bitcoin prices on it?

For those who reasonably maintain that the unbacked Bitcoin is simply a form of gambling, a computer screen with an electronic roulette wheel on it might be used. Dollars are often depicted in publications as paper currency. Paper currency is physical reality which also will still be there if the electricity and the computers don’t work.

Then again, too, it’s only cheap paper which can be endlessly depreciated by its issuing central bank. Paper currency is normally convertible into bank deposits and vice versa. Yet if the bank fails, paper currency looks a lot better than deposits. It would be there, still at par, when the bank has folded, and one would not need to worry about what government bailouts may be in process.

Even so, in holding the paper currency, one would still be a target of the inflationist drive of the Federal Reserve and other central bankers. One would be holding a unit of money, in respect of the Fed has formally set a goal of depreciating at an average of two percent — forever. 

Historically, it would have been accurate to depict dollars as gold coins. Gold coins denominated in dollars freely circulated for parts of our history. Dollar paper currency was redeemable in and backed by gold. Bank deposits were withdrawable in gold coins. The Federal Reserve was required by law to hold gold collateral against its paper currency.

This gold standard world is hardly even imaginable by most people today. It ended in 1933 when the government made owning gold illegal for American citizens, with criminal penalties. This prohibition, which lasted more than 40 years, was remarkably oppressive. It enabled a vast expansion of government power.

The Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek, in his 1974 essay “Choice in Currency,” argued that “With the exception… of the gold standard, practically all governments in history have used their exclusive power to issue money in order to defraud and plunder the people.” 

Therefore, Hayek asked, “why should we not let people choose freely what money they want to use?” Bitcoin enthusiasts love this idea, and propose Bitcoin as the alternative money to escape the monetary control of inflationist central banks.

Despite its remarkable record as an object of speculation, Bitcoin has a scant record as a currency in general use. What a contrast to the long history of gold-backed currency.

That a revived gold-backed currency would become a renewed alternative to pure paper currencies was Hayek’s actual hope. “It seems not unlikely that gold would ultimately reassert its place…if people were given complete freedom to decide,” he wrote. This would require paper and accounting money defined as a weight of gold and freely redeemable in gold coins.

Would such a money based on gold coins be chosen by the people over paper dollars and Bitcoins in a free competition? How instructive it would be, although directly against the self-interest of every deficit-monetizing government, to run this comparison.

This article was originally published by a www.nysun.com . Read the Original article here. .