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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

Referring to the Token Itself—money

Referring to the Token Itself—money,

it is of no consequence of what material it is made, provided that (1) the supply is easily procurable, (2) that it is durable, (3) that it can be easily carried, and (4) that it cannot be counterfeited; in itself money is only the tangible sign of some article of use or desire in terms of the labor put forth in its creation. What, then, of a golden sovereign? This trinket has cost at least the putting forth of from twice to ten times its value in labor to produce it! Little wonder is it that a gold mining country is always recognised as being a poor country. Manifestly to raise gold as a medium of exchange is a great waste of capital, i.e., of labor, the basis of all capital. True economy consists in expending as little labor as possible in producing any article desired for a given use. Hence the advantage of so-called labor-saving machines. The article under consideration for the moment is the medium of exchange—money. In the passing from hand to hand of this medial agency there is the danger that some person possessing a token, say for a day's labor, may take it into his head that it would be much easier to foist a money token into circulation for which he had not expended an honest day's labor, so he starts in the evil business of a counterfeiter or forger of money. The value of gold as coin, if any, is that in consequence of its costing a good deal more in labor to get from the earth than it will represent as money, it is not likely to be over-issued; whether there is enough of it to afford a regular supply is not often thought of.

If the revived doctrine of the alchemists should prove to be practicable, viz., that "indications point to the near discovery by scientists of methods by which to transform the page 5 two sole forms of atoms into any substance that may be desired," then perhaps the "superstition that gold may be made a standard of value" will become patent to the most credulous believer in the "intrinsic" worth of gold as a money token. But in the meantime may not gold be looked upon as representing the remorseless sacrifice of human life, the agony of ill-requited and desperate toil, of needless suffering, cruel bloodshed, and savage rapine? If we knew the history of a piece of gold and its transition down through the ages it might make us shudder as at the fire of hell. Of this more hereafter. We left A's acknowledgment of the indebtedness of a day's labor passing from hand to hand; at length it may be presented to him for the equivalent that B would not accept because he did not want it. A may have removed, or have nothing, or have died. It must be said of the issuer of money as is said of the kingly office,