Money from the Twilight Zone

Below is how Rod Serling ended a story From the Twilight Zone published in 1961.

The story begins with four criminals stealing $1 million in gold from a train on the way to Ft. Knox. One of the criminals – a chemistry expert by the name of Farwell – hid four suspended-animation chambers near the scene of their crime in the California desert and set them to wake the criminals in 100 years, believing they would be free from police pursuit and able to spend their stolen money in the year 2061.

But after they wake up, greed starts leading them to kill one another as they leave the cave. In the end, the last criminal survivor is Farwell, struggling to survive in the desert heat. Close to death while lying at the side of an isolated road, he musters his remaining strength to beg a man and woman who stop in the first vehicle to pass in days.

    “This is gold here. This is real gold. I’ll give it to you if you’ll drive me into town. If you’ll give me water. I must have water.” He forced one hand to move across the sand where it pointed to that last bar of gold a few feet from him. “Gold,” the voice came again. “It’s real gold. And you can have it. I’ll give it to you. I’ll give it to you. . . .” The fingers clutched convulsively, and suddenly the hand opened. There was a spasmodic jerk, and then there was no movement at all.

The man knelt down to listen for Farwell’s heart beat. When he rose to his feet he shook his head. “Poor old guy,” he said. “I wonder where he came from.”

The woman in the vehicle rose from her seat to look across the road. “Who is it, George?” she asked. “What’s the matter with him?”

The man walked back to the vehicle and got into the driver’s seat. “Some old tramp,” he said, “that’s who it was. He’s dead now.”

The woman looked at the gold bar in her husband’s hand. “What’s that?”

“Gold. That’s what he said it was. Wanted to give it to me in exchange for a ride into town.”

“Gold?” The woman wrinkled her nose. “What in the world is he doing with gold?”

The man shrugged. “I don’t know. Off his rocker, I guess. Anybody walking in this desert at this time of day would be off his rocker.” He shook his head and held up the bar of gold. “Can you imagine that? Offered that as if it was worth something.”

“Well, it was worth something once, wasn’t it? Didn’t people use gold as money?”

The man opened the door. “Sure – a hundred years ago or so, before they found a way of manufacturing it.”

Given his insistence on including in “The Rip Van Winkle Caper” a strong opinion about the severed link between money and gold not being able to prevent the ironic deaths of his ignorant criminals, it would be fascinating to know what Serling, had he lived longer, would make of current reality.

As depicted by Serling, money and gold were indeed linked by the gold standard in 1961. But unlike the story’s fictional ending – depicting how the link was severed in 2061 and led to gold becoming practically worthless, due to society finding a way to manufacture the precious metal – in reality the link was severed due to government finding a way to manufacture money by ending the gold standard in 1971 – not a century but merely a decade after “The Rip Van Winkle Caper.”

Change under Barack Obama is leading to money becoming even more worthless, as shown in the above figure. The economy is crying out for a return to tradition — proven leadership that understands what’s needed for government to guarantee long-term economic health in America.


Rod Serling, “The Rip Van Winkle Caper,” in From the Twilight Zone (New York: Doubleday, 1961).


3 thoughts on “Money from the Twilight Zone

  1. Great Article! One of the most interesting things to me about the rise of gold pricing, is that if you plot the rise in U.S. currency since we jettisoned the gold standard in 1972, you will see the exact same curve. It is almost a point for point match. Then if you track other national costs; like median home prices, or entitlements like healthcare you will see the rise in their cost again matches point for point.

    Now if you go a step further and track soybean, wheat, general wages, clothing, and other non-government stimulated products or products primarily manufactured in other countries like computers; you see they are completely anomalous to this curve, meaning they don’t track it at all. My conclusion is most of the issues we have in our economy today, including health care cost, has been due to the rampant printing of money and the disproportionate application of this new currency to entitlements and housing. (Rising housing prices are necessary to justify the currency increase since the basic engine of a fractional reserve banking economy is real property debt.)

    We have dug ourselves a hole that we can’t get out of by debt, but our economic engine is based on debt. That is one of the reasons there is so much support from the Federal Reserve and the banking system for significantly and continually raising the national debt. If we don’t raise the debt, they can’t create the currency, if they don’t create new currency, there is no money to pay the interest on the loans. If the banks don’t get the interest they can’t pay dividends. Further, since every dollar of debt is leveraged by banks at the rate of 10 to 1, without new debt – new money is not created and we can’t pay our debt. It is a mathematical vicious circle and we are nearing its theoretical endpoint.

    One of the most interesting questions you can pose on this subject is the following:
    Let’s start with the premise that there are only two people in the world and only 100 dollars in total currency in existence. Let us further suppose that Jim, has all the money, and Fred wants to buy a horse that costs $100.00. Fred borrows the money from Jim and agrees to pay him back with 10% interest at the end of the year. Where does Fred get the money to pay the interest, if there is only $100.00 in the world in the first place? By the way, just because the system includes many more people and much more money, on a national basis the rule is the same. You can’t create money and pay interest on it if you are not going to create more money to pay the interest and if you borrow the money to pay the interest you have to create (and borrow) more money to pay the interest’s interest… It is a deadly circle, and one we have been building for hundreds of years.

    • Dear Thomas Loker,
      Thank you for taking time to submit such a fascinating comment!
      It’s interesting how you point out inflation similar to that between American money and the price of gold also exists between money and housing or entitlements, but not between money and goods or services supplied without government intervention.
      I’m printing your comment to study for the benefit of future debate.
      Thank you again for your consideration!
      Ronald Grey
      Note: Learn more about Mr. Loker and his writing about the economy in The History and Evolution of Health Care in America at his websiteclick here

      • I am glad you enjoyed it. I have been looking extensively at this issue for the past few months as I prepared my book on the History of Health Care. I have long suspected the elimination of the gold standard has had a significant effect on the economic problems we now face, but the research has revealed the disproportionate effect in entitlements and housing as well.

        I am glad you found benefit and thanks for the reply.

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