A recent issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis highlights New York Sun founding editor Seth Lipsky’s concerns about the impact of allowing the value of the American dollar to float.
The creation of dollars, and the status of the dollar as legal tender, is a matter of fiat. Its value is adjusted by the mandarins at the Federal Reserve, depending on variables they only sometimes share with the rest of the world. This would have floored the Framers of our Constitution, who granted Congress the power to coin money and regulate its value in the same sentence in which they gave it the power to fix the standard of weights and measures. ….
Now, the record is clear in respect of how America’s founders viewed money. Many of them went into the Second United States Congress, where they established the value of the dollar at 371 ¼ grains of pure silver. The law through which they did that, the Coinage Act of 1792, noted that the amount of silver they were regulating for the dollar was the same as in a coin then in widespread use, known as the Spanish milled dollar. The law said a dollar could also be the free-market equivalent in gold. The Founders did not expect the value of the dollar to be changed any more than the persons who locked away that kilogram of platinum and iridium expected the cylinder to start losing mass. In fact, in this same 1792 law, they established the death penalty for debasing the dollar.