When the dollar and gold were set loose from each other, we saw the closest thing to a laboratory experiment we can get in human affairs. All Establishment economists – from Keynesians to Chicagoite monetarists – insisted that gold had long lost its value as a money, that gold had only reached its exalted value of $35 an ounce because its value was "fixed" at that amount by the government. The dollar allegedly conferred value upon gold rather than the other way round, and if gold and the dollar were ever cut loose, we would see the price of gold sink rapidly to its estimated non-monetary value (for jewelry, dental fillings, etc.) of approximately $6 an ounce. In contrast to this unanimous Establishment prediction, the followers of Ludwig von Mises and other "gold bugs" insisted that gold was undervalued at 35 debased dollars, and claimed that the price of gold would rise far higher, perhaps as high as $70.
Suffice it to say that the gold price never fell below $35, and in fact vaulted upward, at one point reaching $850 an ounce, in recent years settling at somewhere around $350 an ounce. And yet since 1973, the Treasury and Fed have persistently evaluated their gold stock, not at the old and obsolete $35, to be sure, but only slightly higher, at $42.22 an ounce.
Inflation, credit expansion, business cycles, heavy government debt, and high taxes are not, as Establishment historians claim, inevitable attributes of capitalism or of "modernization." On the contrary, these are profoundly anti-capitalist and parasitic excrescences grafted onto the system by the interventionist State, which rewards its banker and insider clients with hidden special privileges at the expense of everyone else.
Crucial to free enterprise and capitalism is a system of firm rights of private property, with everyone secure in the property that he earns. Also crucial to capitalism is an ethic that encourages and rewards savings, thrift, hard work, and productive enterprise, and that discourages profligacy and cracks down sternly on any invasion of property rights. And yet, as we have seen, cheap money and credit expansion gnaw away at those rights and at those virtues. Inflation overturns and transvalues values by rewarding the spendthrift and the inside fixer and by making a mockery of the older "Victorian" virtues.