Making Change, Choice and a Comeback

Some things don’t change.  For centuries, for example, people have been painting still life – flowers, fruit, some food on a platter with a dead rabbit on the side.   Even Picasso tried his hand at it. “Still lifes,” however, are often a metaphor for stagnation.

But just maybe, life is stirring abroad.

A restaurant at Walt Disney World has begun to serve alcoholic beverages.   What is Mickey Mouse thinking?   The Russian army has decided to let its soldiers wear socks instead of the centuries-old “portayanki” that they wrapped around their feet for centuries.  And the Cuban government has decided to discontinue exit visas for its citizens.

What is the world coming to? Japan, for example, is considering phasing out nuclear power. In France the Greens want to phase out nuclear power completely but have agreed with Socialists to slower, more limited goals.

The world does not move quickly, however – even when the danger is clear. Psychologically, much less economically, doing something different is scarey.  It is more comforting to do more of the same even if it isn’t working than do something different that might work better.

Too often, politics trumps policy.  When politics confront policy – as it did in a 1971 when Nixon closed the gold window– is it any wonder that policy will suffer? We desperately  need economic policies that embrace both change and choice.

William Jennings Bryan, famously not a fan of the gold standard, once said: “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” Bryan never tired of making a comeback for himself and his anti-gold policies; he ran three times for president.

It’s time for a gold standard  comeback.

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