I look at libertarians the same way one would look at a puppy operating a flamethrower – with a mixture of condemnation, bemusement, and wonder without losing sight of the dangerous lunacy that underlies the spectacle. Most of their antics are boring enough to be unworthy of attention, but the fact that I now know three separate libertarians who are hoarding silver overwhelms my capacity for ignoring stupidity. It is worth noting that two of them are not simply hoarding silver, they are burying it in their yard and thus adequately fulfilling every component of the Flat Earther militiaman stereotype they insist is unfair.
The whole libertarian "fiat money isn't money" and "abolish the Fed" nonsense is all-too-familiar to most of us and we do a commendable job of collectively ignoring it as a society. They practice what they preach, though, getting themselves well prepared for the complete collapse of our system of money that they insist is imminent. But don't run off to rob the nearest bank assuming that the safe deposit boxes are laden with precious metals – since Commissar Obama's gestapo has plans to seize all privately held gold and silver, the one and only safe place for your hoarded wealth is in your yard. Possibly behind the pool, although I'm not sure if libertarians believe in pools. Usually I just point and giggle at their Liberty Dollars (easily the best website ever designed by blind people) and talk about alternative "non-FRN" currencies. However, I am about to make the fatal flaw of attempting to apply the rules of logic to their behavior.
I'd like a silver-hoarding libertarian to explain one thing to me: what is the endgame that you envision? In other words, what specifically do you foresee happening and how will your hoarded silver be of use when it does? I'll accept your worst case scenario (the paper dollar inflates itself out of existence and the US Dollar collapses catastrophically) in the vain hope that it may offer some insight into what you think your hoards of old silver flatware and privately minted 1 ounce bars is going to accomplish.
Let's say we all wake up tomorrow to find that Ron Paul's masturbatory apocalypse scenario has become reality. Our currency has collapsed. Your bank account, and even the bills in your wallet, are utterly worthless. As you can imagine, this would no doubt lead to profound social disorientation and upheaval. Urban/suburban/town dwellers would suddenly find themselves unable to purchase the basics of food, fuel, and utilities. All three of these commodities would disappear shortly anyway, as the delivery trucks would certainly stop bringing food and gasoline to the retail market.
The collapse of the American dollar would be a de facto collapse of the entire global financial system. China would suddenly find itself without reserves and the Titanic-esque sinking of our economy would drag numerous other countries down in our wake – Japan, the Commonwealth, Germany, and probably Russia as well. All economic activity beyond what individuals can see from the doorstep of their home would cease to exist.
So where and how does the silver save the day? I have this image in my mind, one that I admit may be a straw man, of libertarians picturing themselves striding into the gas station or supermarket to provision themselves while mocking the rest of us who lack their foresight. In the disaster scenario they predict this is patently retarded. To whom is one's silver to be traded and for what? Are we to believe that life will carry on much as before except that the businesses and utilities we rely on for basic needs and services will hang signs reading "Now accepting silver, no paper money!" on the front door?
No, in a complete economic collapse there would be no medium of exchange in which enough faith existed to make the kinds of transactions one who is not self-sufficient needs to do in this society. And faith is what makes money fungible**, not scarcity or whether it is backed by precious metal. No one will want your paper dollars after Global Economic Armageddon. On that point libertarians and I agree. But no one will want your dirt encrusted silver either with the possible exception of other silver-hoarding libertarians. That any form of "money" would be worth anything when all economic activity has ground to a halt is, to put it mildly, delusional.
If you really believe that Federal Reserve fiat money is going to collapse, hoard food. Hoard heating fuel. Hoard medicine. Hoard all of the things one would need to survive in a world without economic activity, all of the things that wouldn't be available at any price, paper or silver, in the crisis that libertarians stridently insist is imminent. A fifty pound bag of rice would be worth more than all the silver coins in the world, either as a means of barter or for personal use. In short, if everything goes to shit, my Ron Paul loving friends, you and I are going to be in exactly the same boat. You'll be no better off unless you find a way to eat silver or burn it for heat.
**This may just be my favorite word, and the opportunity to use it is rare indeed.