When the economy goes to pot, we the people place our faith in one indisputably sexy commodity. It’s the lone bright spot on Wall Street and a rallying cry for the riotous right. So as the Ron Pauls of the world dream of a return to the gold standard, GQ sent Wells Tower to the Klondike, where a new gold rush is on and rumors of a mother lode have everyone acting a little feverish.
Even so, you’d have a hard time packing a phone booth with econ Ph.D.’s who think the gold standard isn’t disastrous nonsense. The assortment of plagues a return to gold would inflict on our economy, experts say, is too vast to itemize here, so let’s do something simple. Let’s just imagine for a second where you’d be right now if the dollar were still yoked to gold. If you squint and are drunk, it looks pretty great.
Picture it: In the past decade, gold’s ascendancy would have jacked the dollar up 500 percent compared with, say, the euro. Boosh—slam dunk! Superpower! Face! Though wait, hold on: What if you’re a bright-eyed young entrepreneur who owns a factory that makes, say, bald-eagle flagpole toppers? Your competitor in China, who used to pay the stiffs in his beak-polishing department $6 a day, now gets them for $1 a day. His $60 bootleg of your Thrifty Patriot model now goes for ten bucks. Who wants to pay a 500 percent premium for your bona fide made-in-America eagle? Nobody. Everybody buys them from the Chinese guy. You lay off your employees and file bankruptcy. Your wife ditches you for a comparatively wealthy Zimbabwean roofer. You kill yourself. Everybody kills themselves. America ceases to push the envelope and run this planet.
"I would kill to have your job" is a sentiment I’ll hear from tourists by the dozen during my week behind the Dampkring bar, though in fact I anticipate the exercise with cold anxiety. Part of the job, I’ve already been told, will involve smoking weed in quantity, and marijuana and I do not make a happy team. "Paranoia" doesn’t adequately get at what I suffer while I’m high. It’s more like Ebola of the superego, a self-loathing catatonia of uncertainty and dread. When I’m stoned, Homo sapiens and its customs become terrifying and obscure. Shortly after the first good toke, I can almost hear a delicate shardwork of baffling human etiquette crystallizing in the air around me, making it impossible to so much as reach for a Cheeto without causing an apocalypse