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Fun on Friday: The Biggest Waste of Gold Ever

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People love to cover things with gold. It’s pretty. But more than that, gold makes things more valuable.

In past Fun on Friday columns, I’ve highlighted some of the stuff people have coated with gold including earbuds, Nikes, a hairdryer, chicken wings, and soap. Well, this week I’ve got another for you, but I’m going to confess up front – this one annoys me.

The capitol dome in Denver Colorado was recently restored and covered with about 65 ounces of .9999 pure gold. Yup. They put gold on the roof of a government building.

If you ask me, this is the biggest waste of gold ever.

Now, I know I said recently restored. The restoration actually happened back in 2013. But government time is like dog years. So, really, 2013 was pretty much last month in government time.

They decided they needed to repair the dome after a piece of cast iron fell onto the observation deck. According to the Colorado State Capitol website, the iron fell after more than 100 years of water infiltration and decay. Apparently, somebody needs to introduce the folks running the state capitol over there in Denver to an important word — maintenance.

Anyway, after the metal fell out of the roof, it took the dedicated public servants in Colorado four years “to develop a funding mechanism.” (Translation – squeeze money out of the Colorado taxpayer.) Funding for the restoration came by way of a package of bills passed by the Colorado General Assembly. Construction started two years later.

Now, I just want to pause here and note that it seems like falling cast iron should have created a sense of urgency. But it took them four years to even get funding to fix it. Then another two years passed before they actually started fixing it. That doesn’t seem like a sense of urgency to me. Then again, this is government. Remember — government time. I suppose getting action within six years does show a sense of urgency in government-speak.

Anyway, about the gold. It was apparently donated by AngloGold Ashanti’s Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company. The yellow metal came from the same Teller County, Colorado source that produced the first gold to adorn the capitol dome. Workers hammered the gold into leaves between one-8000th and one-10,000th of an inch thick. Gilders applied 140,000 3-inch squares of gold leaf to sticky copper plates that were then laid on the building’s dome.

According to the website, the value of the gold, along with refining and transportation costs, came to about $125,000.

I have to admit, the dome is really pretty. But $125,000 is a lot of money for pretty  – especially when that $125,000 was pick-pocketed from the good people of Colorado.

Believe it or not, 10 state capitols have real gold on their domes. Along with Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, West Virginia and Iowa boast glittering golden domes.

Now, you may have gotten the impression that I don’t really like government all that much. That impression would be correct. So, I’m really not a fan of dignifying government buildings with gold domes. I guess they are supposed to fill us with awe and respect for our fine government institutions. You know, the same fine institutions that wait six years after metal falls out of the roof to actually fix it.

With that in mind, I can think of some more appropriate materials to top our state capitols with. Like tarps. The blue ones are cheap and durable. Heck, people keep tarps on their roofs for months after Hurricanes. Or rust. Yes. I know rust isn’t really a building material. But it seems appropriate. I think it would inspire us with just about the appropriate level of respect. And if we’re looking for something more durable, we could go with aluminum or tin. It’s cheap. But that’s not usually a consideration for politicians. I mean, they don’t have to pay for it. If they did, I guarantee they would go with tarps.

The bottom line is there are a lot of better uses for gold than pasting it on the roof of a government building. Like diversifying your portfolio. For information about that, call a SchiffGold precious metals specialist today. I promise it won’t take six years to get your gold. We work on regular people time.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the-wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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About The Author

Michael Maharrey is the managing editor of the SchiffGold blog, and the host of the Friday Gold Wrap Podcast and It's Your Dime interview series.
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