Dean Minnich Writing Again: Should the county speculate in gold?

A few weeks ago, Commissioner Richard Rothschild suggested the county should end its conservative approach to investing and bonding and buy gold.

Since then, the price of gold has dropped $58 an ounce, lowest in three months.

Hope we didn't invest in gold.

Question is, why would he suggest such a thing, when gold is 15 percent lower than it was in September.

Maybe the answer is in a piece that appeared on the Internet in which analysts point out that uber-conservative Glenn Beck was advising people to invest in gold. As Abraham Bailin, a commodity analyst points out, "Gold became a symbol of your political leanings . . . a way to speculate on the solvency of the economy."

People panic and run to buy gold when they're fearful. So fear feeds the gold frenzy. Cooler heads apparently prevailed. The county's "investments" are supposed to be a means to maintain a good position with which to hold a good bond rating, so we can borrow money at a good rate for major expenses, like schools or other capital expenses. It's not to get rich with taxpayers' dollars.

In recent years, the county was prudent and frugal enough to actually pay off debts early, effectively saving even more on necessary spending. But that was when leaders listened to respected financial advisers, not Glenn Beck.

Here's hoping the next great idea is not something along the lines of buying up residential properties in declining neighborhoods, capitalizing on panic, then selling the property off at a profit -- hopefully -- when the market settles down.

I've heard of certain real estate practices that capitalize on fear and greed, and as a county, we should not be doing that.