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Outlaw gold mining? Imperialists and totalitarians would love that

Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:

Because of gold mining's environmental costs, financial writer JP Koning mused the other day, outlawing it "makes a lot of sense," at least "in theory."

Koning argues that plenty of the monetary metal is already available and since it is used largely for conserving wealth, the current supply will always be adequate for that with higher prices. (He adds that he would argue differently if the world returned to a gold standard.)

Koning acknowledges that outlawing gold mining would cause some environmental damage as well, as more gold mining would be done by unregulated wildcatters. Outlawing gold mining would also eliminate much employment, Koning concedes.

Your secretary/treasurer would add some other negative consequences to the idea, foremost among them that prohibiting gold mining would reduce the world's access to an independent form of money, money that governments strive to control and oppress. Owning such a large share of what already has been mined, central banks already have unfair influence on gold's price, and eliminating new supply would increase their power even as they already run the world most undemocratically.

Without both the mining of gold and its use as independent money, poor but resource-rich developing countries will always have to use the money of the developed world and will remain poor and exploited by the developed world's imperialism.

Gold mining provides developing countries access to their own world reserve currency. But outlawing gold mining will give even more financial advantage to those who already have the monetary metal, disproportionately rich countries and rich people. A rising price of gold does little for people who don't already own it or can't extract it under their own sovereignty.

As for environmental damage, the wider the world's access to gold as an independent reserve currency, the harder it is for governments to inflate their currencies to finance wars, which do far more environmental and human damage than gold mining, and the harder it is for governments to be totalitarian. After all, the first thing war-mongering and totalitarian governments do is to confiscate gold and forbid its use as money.

But a rising gold price will facilitate remediation of the environmental damage done by mining. With gold mining more profitable, miners will be less pressed to take the metal out of the ground and run away from the mess they've made.

Gold's great value is as a mechanism for preserving individual freedom and restraining government. Outlawing gold mining would make imperialists and totalitarians very happy, and they already are having too much fun.

CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.

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