Thanks largely to Ron Paul, the Republicans have suddenly become enamored of gold.
And why not?...It is real money.
These newly-born gold bugs have even gone so far as to include a call for a commission to examine a return to the gold standard in the party platform.
Needless to say, we've come a long way since President Richard Nixon "closed the gold window" in 1971. Forty-one years, and a few financial disasters later, the debate has begun anew.
But it begs the question: How would the gold standard work?
What's more, what would the economic implications be, and is it likely to happen or is it all just a gold bug's dream?
In ancient and medieval times the answers were quite a bit more simple. Since there was no real banking system, there was also no argument.
Kings coined money with gold, silver, or copper, and the people accepted the money at a price based on its metal content. The idea of taking paper instead would have been thought of as sheer madness.
Only in China, an isolated and stable society, was paper money used during the Song Dynasty of the 10th through 13th centuries, but even there the Mongol invasion and fall of the Song regime caused the paper money system to collapse.
Paper money backed by gold only became possible once modern banking got going in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In fact, the British Gold Standard was devised in 1717 by no less than Isaac Newton, then Master of the Mint. Other countries soon joined Britain in linking their currencies to gold, including the United States from 1878 until its abandonment in 1933.
Of course, countries claimed to be on a gold standard under the Bretton Woods Agreement from 1944-71, but gold was only exchangeable between governments. Indeed, holding gold was prohibited in the U.S. for private individuals.
But inevitably, the Bretton Woods monetary system itself became manipulated and collapsed in inflation.
That brings us to today....