Why do people value gold so much?
I think the standard for wealth should be chocolate. It is much more nourishing, more coveted, and more satisfying. Do you ever develop a sudden craving for gold in the middle of the day? (or the night?) Does gold satisfy a deep-down need in your soul as it transits your tongue in serendipitous sweetness, bathing the back of your throat in warming smoothness, as it enters your stomach and fills the hollow of your being? I think not. But chocolate does. Chocolate is love. It is perfection. It is the answer to all prayers, the righter of all evils. Nothing gratifies as well. Nothing else delivers its promise so instantly.
No, gold is only a second measure of wealth, in that you can buy chocolate with it.
Imagine if the world economies shifted their wealth standard to chocolate. At first, people would fight over it, destroy the earth for it, horde and covet it, and lord their possession of it over others. But eventually, the chocolate would melt, get that powdery, grayish film on it, and decay. Mice would break into the chocolate coffers and nibble away at it.
You see, you can’t keep chocolate forever. You have to enjoy it when it’s in its prime. This knowledge would convince rich people to share their chocolate with others, rather than letting their investment waste away. There would be a self-limiting factor to this type of wealth: overindulgence in this commodity would lead to visible and palpable illness: bloating, weight gain, acne, tooth decay, and ultimately, diabetes and certain nervous disorders.
Over time, the wise (or anyone paying attention) would realize that wealth—chocolate—is a fleeting thing that must be shared in order to be fully enjoyed. Failure to distribute wealth would lead to grotesque body deformations such as overextended bellies, saggy butts, and craterous acne. Wealth hoarders would be easy to spot, and would bring shame upon themselves, and, even worse, be openly ridiculed. Fear of public derision would make everyone want to share their chocolate.
On the other side, those who had been shared with would be so elated (by both the generosity of the act and by chocolate’s pheromone-mimicking effect) that they would want to pass the experience on to others, creating over the longer term a sort of Economy of Euphoria. The exchange of chocolate would supplant all other trade, because when people are in a good mood, they don’t ask for collateral, don’t price-gouge, don’t mount hostile take-overs and leverage other people out of the market. They just naturally share what they have, and the good will that sharing creates makes others want to share as well.
Photo: Moonstruck Chocolates by Eszter Hargittai, 2009
Creative Commons License