The crisis began in a small country, Greece, but it led to revelations of international financial vulnerabilities that are overturning the world's monetary system. For years the Greek government spent beyond its means and borrowed to make up the difference. Just like the U.S. government. The U.S. has not yet suffered the dire economic consequences of Greece because of the dollar's status as the world's reserve currency. That means it is the only country in the world that can pay its debts by simply printing more of its own money. Those days will end.
American and European banks have gotten into trouble because of unsound underwriting practices that would not have been possible under a gold standard. And governments are on the verge of bankruptcy because there is no restraint—which a gold standard would provide—on their spending and manipulation of credit.
American politicians have debauched the currency for agendas contrary to our Constitution and to buy voter support for their elections. And the Federal Reserve has provided a means of financing uneconomic political agendas and pushing the costs onto future generations. But debt and credit cannot expand forever—as America's housing/mortgage bubble demonstrated. When the credit bubble bursts, hard times must follow.
Gold is the ultimate money because of its intrinsic characteristics and because no government has an unlimited supply of it to support unlimited government spending. In the absence of a sound money, alternative currencies may serve for awhile, but they will not be a permanent substitute for gold. If the U.S. doesn't return to a gold standard, some other country will. Then not only the dollar but America will lose its primacy in the world. It will lose that primacy as much for the neglect of its original constitutional principles as for the fate of the dollar. In fact, it was the neglect of those principles that led to the frightening expansion of government and the demise of the dollar.