Article first published as All That Does Not Glitter is Gold on Blogcritics
Folks around the blogosphere rip apart Glenn Beck because they disagree with his opinions and the manner in which he deals with people. Folks see a genuine disconnect between Beck's preachings and his lavish lifestyle. He seems to have inflated his sense of importance and that rubs people across the entire political spectrum the wrong way.
His latest project, called Restoring Honor, is a rally which Mr. Beck claims will celebrate America and her return to historical roots. It's also being pegged as a fundraiser for Special Operations Warriors Foundation, a very noble cause indeed. All in all this would be a fantastic unifying opportunity if it wasn't what it is - a chance for Glenn Beck to enhance his fame.
The rally and the megalomaniacal adverts are sponsored by Goldline. While promoting his rally this week, Mr. Beck told listeners to have "faith" and buy gold, naturally from Goldline.
What he's not telling you is that gold is a terrible investment, awful for the environment, and humanity-destroying. Yes, gold prices are higher now than before, and they are not going to stay this high unless people keep buying it thinking it is a good financial choice. Hence, why Goldline pays celebrities to endorse the shiny metal. Even if Goldline were not under investigation for ripping decent people off, gold would still be one of the worst things to sink your hard earned dollars into. And here's why:
Gold has hit a value plateau and it will go down in value because gold is being found all over the place, from Africa to Vancouver Island. The gold marketers are trying to create a demand before the market becomes saturated and the monetary value drops dramatically. People bought gold because of illusions of financial security in an unsafe world and the price was driven to an unreasonable level.
It pays companies to want to keep the public afraid for their future because they buy their product, be it duct tape, emergency food storage systems, or precious metals. That's why their advertisements continually discuss the financial collapse and the supposed uncertainty of our new world, and Glenn Beck is the perfect spokesman for a generation of fear.
Secondly, gold mining is absolutely awful for the environment. If you have images of old, where men with pickaxes hacked out chunks, you are dated in your view. Large veins of gold have already been mined out, and now gold is found in very low concentrations. Nowadays your mine is considered a monumental success if you can extract anything in the neighbourhood of one-third of an ounce of it from one tonne of the Earth irretrievably destroyed. Gold is produced by vast open-pit mining. The rock is blasted away with nasty explosives (which have their own effects) and the rock is ground into a powder. The gold is dissolved out of the dust by turning it into mud and then dousing it with a cyanide solution.
For those of you who don't know what cyanide is, it is an extremely effective poison; one that has the incredible ability to annihilate everything around it. While there are methods to prevent leeching of the nastiness into the groundwater, horrifying spills have occurred, including one which polluted most of Romania. (that was recently, not during the Bloc era) And cyanide is just one of the ugly chemicals used in gold mining. At other stages of the operation arsenic, sulfuric acid, and mercury are also used. Yummy.
It's pretty obvious that open mines require space, and lots of it. To make a mine, all vegetation must be cleared, which causes the related effects of deforestation, namely erosion and loss of wildlife habitat. River dredging for mining has the obvious issues with a very human consequence- loss of an important food supply.
If you care about the environment, gold is just tragic. Gold mining is one of the most ecologically destructive examples of human stupidity, but gold is pretty and it's a great investment haven't you heard? What's a great investment if there is no planet left and no people to inhabit it? Naturally, gold merchants choose to sponsor people and events that promote ecologically-destructive industries and abhor change. You know, their buddies Big Oil and the Tea Party.
But what if you're stinking rich and don't care if gold loses 50% of its value and you hate those annoying trees because they're green and they have irritating birds chirping in them? What if you like gold because it is a shiny statement of wealth and human's domination over the planet? I have an image just for you.
This is a Congolese victim of gang rape. "How does she relate to gold ?", you say. She is caught in a turf war over gold mines. Opposing greedy factions use rape of women and even babies to shame their new enemies and to force people out of their communities so they can expand operations.
In Ghana and Indonesia, Western mining interests have displaced people, polluted their water supplies, and engaged in all kinds of atrocities that range from blocking off transportation to murdering local artisans. Massive cyanide spills in Ghana have caused refugee crises and the last major spill was only 10 months ago. These human beings lose their homes and businesses and sometimes their lives in the pursuit of a rock.
At this moment, someone is being forced from his home and farm for a gold mine, whether he be in Peru or Africa or Eastern Europe. Right now a man is being beaten or languishing in a prison without trial or watching his 3 year old be violated by 6 men because he dared to say that $100 was not enough to make him relinquish his family farm.
If someone found a metal in your backyard would you be eager to leave so they could rip apart your family life and lifetime of work? Would you protest if a billionaire came to you and offered a pittance for the statement of your efforts and foundation of your legacy?
Someone is suffering at this very moment for a few grams of gold. Someone like you. And that is the human truth that the rich and famous don't tell you in their commercials.
To be fair to Glenn Beck and the other men who tell you that you must buy precious metals for your financial future, maybe they really do not know. Maybe they are blinded by the glitter and enchanted by wealth they can physically touch. But maybe they don't care. Maybe it doesn't matter whether a river is polluted in Romania or someone's wife and children are raped and murdered. Maybe they see themselves as more valid beings than the farmer in Peru or the craftsman in Ghana. After all, they've got gold and you should have some too.
To have faith in gold is to have belief in the gold producer, the belief that he will not destroy everything to get at a very small something. But allegiance without question is woefully blind. Glenn Beck frequently implores people to question what they think but offers up a commodity whose origins defy any form of reason as the symbol of prosperity and stability. Why doesn't Mr. Beck question gold with the fervour that he does everything else?
My suspicion is that if he did, he wouldn't like the painful answers.
Proverbs 8:11 "For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her."