I still remember my parents commenting during the 1964 presidential election about the silliness of Barry Goldwater's recommending that we go back on the silver and gold standard for our nation's monetary system. But now I know that Sen. Goldwater was right, and had we followed his recommendations, we would be the most economically healthy country in the world today.
The problem is that as soon as a country goes away from securing its currency with gold or silver — which it actually pledges to redeem to anyone who bears its paper currency — that country can almost never resist the temptation simply to print more money to pay its obligations. The rationale is, of course, that "we are only borrowing money from ourselves," but this immediately reduces the value of the currency. And, as I read from economist Mark Skousen's book "A Tale of Two Dollars" (Investment Rarities Inc., 2010), this is what we have starkly seen in our country since the middle 1960s.