Money’s value

by Mathew Strong

I recently looked up the value of two silver dollars I have had since I was a kid, considered “junk silver” now (pre-1967 solid silver but not really collectible). If I took them to a convenience store I could get one small cup of Green Mountain Coffee and fifty one cents change. If I took them to a silver dealer to melt them down for their actual value, I would have $40.85 (as of 11/19/13).

It got me thinking, is there a fundamental question we’ve not been asking? We have been told that we need to “get everyone to buy insurance” – because “health care is so expensive you will lose your house and go bankrupt if you have a life threatening situation”. Might it be that our money’s value plays a role in this equation as well?

Do Carhartt’s actually cost $55 to make? Is the specialist I needed to see at Fletcher Allen Health Care really worth $748 for a 12 minute consultation?

I understand the $748 does not all go to the doctor. A small fraction is his take home pay, and the other costs will be discussed later. But, to me these seven hundred and forty eight dollars are “real dollars”. The accountants at Fletcher Allen Health Care know how many dollars it takes to pay their bills and they charge you and I accordingly. The costs of healthcare and associated factors are the basis for a series of articles I am writing; on why the money shell game, and all the other cumulative, ill-considered, unintended consequences really matter to you and I. And the first one is in our bank accounts.

Here’s some perspective. As the whole world watched this past spring, the country of Cyprus nearly dissolved into a zombie apocalypse that only Brad Pitt could have thwarted. They needed $10 Billion, which eventually came through from foreign sources. I understand that the population and GDP of Cyprus is somewhere in the neighborhood of the Burning Man Festival, but for simple illustration, every month, the Federal Reserve prints $85 BILLLLLLLLLLION dollars. The Fed does this electronically. They create, out of thin air, every 2.83 days, enough money to pay for Cyprus’ bailout. In the recorded history of our planet (and other planets if you take into account Scientology), this has never ended well.

If we use the same value ratio as the silver, that same appointment at FAHC costs $37.40, an over-simplification I know, but a good visual example of what is happening to our money. The biggest issue with inflation is that wages always trail prices in the marketplace, so as our dollar gets weaker, our stagnant wages can purchase fewer and fewer things, making healthcare more and more expensive.

If you’ve been asking yourself why groceries are so expensive, you’re not alone. The rest of the world, which the dollar has dominated for so long, is taking note as well. China is in the process of turning the U.S. treasuries they purchase into gold. They are selling the treasuries quietly and then importing 100’s of tons of gold every year (out of a total of 2,400 tons of worldwide available gold), turning our diluted paper “asset” into actual value. Germany has asked to audit their gold sitting in Federal Reserve vaults in New York, and when the Fed said no, Germany asked for the gold back, which the Fed said would take seven years to return, prompting many people to speculate it’s either not there at all, or has been used as a U.S. collateral for our debt. In both of these cases, the world is taking notice of the decline of our dollar. Healthcare is not nearly as expensive as we think it is. Our dollars just cannot purchase as much of it as it did yesterday, last month, last year, and definitely less tomorrow. (retail price is often what is charged in local VT stores such as Pick & Shovel, Newport, VT)

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