Theres a couple of “this vs. that” arguments that never fail to build into a cascading flamewar. On the various preparedness boards you can be secure that some of the following are sure bets for starting an endless thread:
9mm vs. 45
AR15 vs. AK
223 vs. 308
Bug in vs. bug out
Revolver vs. auto
Gas vs. diesel
Group vs. solo
And a dozen more. I try to be a rational person and see things from both sides. In almost every one of these arguments each side has some valid points and some invalid ones. One that comes up from time to time that I always try to refrain from jumping into is the “precious metal vs. tangible goods” argument.
Usually it starts with someone posting that they just bought x ounces of [gold/silver] as part of their preparedness plan. Someone will then jump in and call them foolish because “you can’t eat it or shoot it” and that when we’re all huddled around campfires eating beans out of cans that piece of gold will be worthless since no one will give up their [food/ammo/medicine] for something that has no utilitarian value in the brave new world.
Im no expert on precious metals (hereafter abbreviated as PM and meaning gold, silver, palladium, platinum, kryptonite or whatever…) but I know some people who are. My own experience is that I’d like to have a stash of PM but I simply don’t because my financial resources are tied up in other things…I can stretch a dollar but I cant clone them.
As I mentioned earlier, I try to see both sides of an argument so I can make the best decision for myself. (Call it a form of empathy.) So, here’s my reasoning:
Most of the SHTF events that I personally see as most likely involve a gradual creeping escalation (or descent, I suppose) in severity. A little heightened unemployment becomes a recession becomes stagflation becomes a depression becomes a global depression, etc. In situations like that PM still has value right up until the very end when things become ThunderDome. After that the box of 9mm JHP becomes more valuable, but prior to that the PM leads the pack in terms of versatility and value.
Some examples: it’s Germany 1939 and your last name ends in –owitz. Time to head for greener pastures, you’ve seen the writing on the wall. You bundle up the family, pile into the car and head for the border. The guards there aren’t True Believers (yet) and can be had..for a price. Its still a time of relative civilization and order so shooting your way through would just bring a lot of cops and get you a fast ticket to a slow cattle car…what is going to get you past this SHTF…a couple cases of food and antibiotics or the gold taped to the inside of your belt? Think fast, the guard is asking for your travel papers.
It’s a balmy, hot oppressive day in Harare and the price of a loaf of bread, when you can find it, is about a quarter billion dollars…in the local hyperinflated currency. Prices aren’t even posted since they change so quickly, and always upward. For those with foreign currency, theres always ‘something in the back room’ that can be had when the rest of the shelves are bare to the public eye and the deputized ‘war veterans’ aren’t watching. Although the national currency is virtually worthless, the people with a little gold or silver aren’t having any trouble finding what they need.
Contrarily, take the case of, say, bushmen in Africa. Offer them a pound of gold for one of their cattle and they’ll look at you like you’re insane. In their barter economy only things with a practical purpose have value. Literally, if you cant eat it or use it as a tool it has no real value.
My own personal version of SHTF is economic. To me, having PM makes sense to retain the value of my money. What does that mean “retain the value of my money”? Look at it this way, your grandparents bought their house in 1965 for $21,000. That same house sells today for $200,000. If they took that $21,000 and stuffed it into an envelope and sat on it for the last 40 years could they buy that same house today for that $21,000? Nope. Now, lets say they bought 583 oz. Of gold (since it was $36/oz in 1965) and sat on that for 40 years. That house that’s now worth $200,000 they could buy and another one just like it…and have money left over for remodeling. Because the price of gold went up? No, because the value of the dollar went down.
Sure, I keep a huge amount of food, supplies, fuel, ammo, guns, toiletries and the like on hand. That’s good sense. And if a conex container with a smuggled black-market nuclear warhead were detonated in Portland tomorrow I’d probably do just fine. But what if the current economic situation gets worse and worse and worse? My money in the bank might buy me enough supplies to live for three months…until inflation rises and now it’ll only buy me two months worth of food…unless it rises even more…and now what would have bought me three months of security will now only buy me two weeks. That’s where the PM comes in.
Does this mean I have a safe full of gold and silver? Nope. I wish it did. Im still putting together all the other little sundry things needed to secure our future and unfortunately PM is one of those things you buy after all the other stuff is taken care of. But…if I had a choice between putting $5000 cash or $5000 in gold away for twenty years for ‘retirement’ I’d say the gold would make much more sense.
“But what if the zombie apocalypse starts tomorrow? Your gold will be worthless to you and you’ll starve with the sheep!” Right? Right? Wrong. Because the gold isn’t a substitute for all the food, ammo and fuel. Its an addition to it. It’s a solution to a different kind of threat. Its one of several layers of defense against the uncertain future. You got zombies? We got ammo. You got hyperinflation? We got PM. Right tool for the job and all that.