Silver 101: Why Every American Should Own It Posted by Adam King on February 04, 2013
While most are not aware of it, almost every American owned silver up until 1965. Dimes, quarters, half dollars, and silver dollars minted in the United States until 1965 were struck with 90 percent silver. The idea of silver coinage was so ubiquitous no one gave it a second thought—silver is money.
Residents on Montana, where a state legislator recently lobbied to be compensated in gold and silver coin, are used to the idea when $1 bills were routinely turned down as businesses demanded silver dollars for services when the coinage was still 90 percent silver.
In addition to the inflationary concerns of the modern policies of central banks printing money in stimulus efforts, there has been a devaluation of the metals used in our coinage that concerns economists on a related front, though it is a topic all its own.
If a member of your family placed $1 in a drawer in the year 1963 in both paper money and silver money, the difference in their worth today is both shocking and revelatory of the current controversies over sound money.
Paper dollars and silver dollars were interchangeable in 1963. That dollar would purchase four gallons of gas during the Kennedy administration. It would have purchased five McDonald’s hamburgers at 15 cents each and two sodas at 10 cents each.
Both the paper dollar and the silver dollar, being interchangeable, would have purchased the same amount of goods in 1963. Today, however, it is a very different story.
The $1 paper bill is worth $1, and would purchase about 30 percent of a gallon of gasoline or would be good for one item at McDonald’s on a special, low-priced menu.
A circulated Peace dollar, currently between $33 and $35 market value, would purchase nine gallons of gas. For $35 you could feed a family at McDonald’s.
The U.S. dollar, on the basis of those two incidents of purchasing power, has declined 86.7 percent in value. The one-ounce of silver has gained 329 percent in purchasing power, based on those two common examples.
Current debates about monetary policy focus on concern about the effect of monetary policies in markets, perhaps the detriment of the easily observable and troubling effects of the debasement of currency in our daily lives. Everyday Americans should all own silver to preserve their purchasing power.