The Gold Standard: Copernicus, Newton, Priestley… and Trump?

From left: Sir Isaac Newton and Donald Trump

Sam Kriss, in The Atlantic, has a wonderful new story, “Flat-Earthers Have A Wild New Theory About Forests,” in which I find an oblique allusion to… myself.

Still, among all the bizarre, self-enclosed universes the internet has to offer — gold-standard bores, UFO chasers, people who believe that cartoons are real in a nearby dimension or that the secret rulers of the world are betraying their existence by leaving little clues on the currency — the flat-earthers are special.

No, I’m not a UFO chaser, nor a believer in cartoon dimensions, or a proponent of the theory of secret rulers of the world. As to the latter, I once published a blog debunking, rather re-debunking, the alt-right canard that a Rothschild said something like “Give me control of a Nation’s money supply, and I care not who makes its laws.” (It’s a totally fabricated quote.)

I’m a gold standard bore. And I’ve been called, by a Washington Post Magazine (humor) columnist, “the second most conservative man in the world” for my gold standard advocacy.

There is a delicious irony in lumping a gold standard geek in with premoderns like Flat Earthers.

The gold standard’s pedigree runs from Copernicus (who dispelled the allied theory that the Sun goes around the Earth and also wrote brilliantly in favor of the gold standard), Sir Isaac Newton (founder of modern classical physics who, as Master of the Royal Mint, accidentally invented the modern classical gold standard), and Joseph Priestley (the discoverer of oxygen, who wrote at length about the gold standard). Continue Reading

Hey Ted Cruz, Join Me in Wishing Sir Isaac Newton, Father of the Gold Standard, Happy Birthday! Tweet on!

Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1702.

This week we celebrate the birthday of a genius, the founder of modern physics, Sir Isaac Newton. Few people recognize that Newton also was the father of the gold standard that served to foster world prosperity for two centuries. It’s true.

Ted Cruz’s call for the gold standard, it turns out, has profoundly great roots.

As recently presented by

Sometimes called the father of modern science, Isaac Newton revolutionized our understanding of our world. He was a real Renaissance man with accomplishments in several fields, including astronomy, physics and mathematics. Newton gave us new theories on gravity, planetary motion and optics. With the publication of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687, Newton lay the groundwork for modern physics. It also cemented his position as one of the leading minds of his age.

Today we celebrate Newton’s birthday as January 4th. Originally, according to the “old” Julien calendar, he was born on Christmas Day in 1642. No matter what the case, Newton lived an amazing life.


In his later life, Newton enjoyed a political career. He was elected to Parliament as a representative for Cambridge in 1689 and returned to Parliament from 1701 to 1702. Newton was also active in the economic life of his country. In 1696, he was appointed warden of the Royal Mint. Newton became the master of the mint three years later and actually changed the English pound from a sterling to gold standard.

Many rigorous economic historians believe that shifting the pound from sterling (silver) to gold was an artifact of a miscalculation by Newton. Continue Reading