Adventures in Counterfeiting

Ron Paul and Sovereign Citizen types are going berserk about this pretty interesting currency case.

A man has been convicted and could face 25 years in federal prison on counterfeiting charges, for what the government describes as a form of domestic terror designed to destabilize US currency. Bernard von NotHaus is some kind of anti-fed type who has minted and distributed millions of “Liberty Dollars”: silver coins that are 100% backed by precious metals he owns and are meant to be a more stable alternative to the US dollar. He claims the Liberty Coins are a form of barter, and that their use is voluntary with the understanding its not real money, but the coins are marked with the words dollars, USA, Trust in God, and the $ sign.

A short video about the Liberty Dollar:

He started in the 90’s with warehouse receipts for silver he owned, the Secret Service investigated him, but since the notes were actually backed up by silver and the words “legal tender” were not used on the receipts, it was judged not counterfeiting. The problem began when he minted the coins and in an effort to help introduce them into general circulation made them somewhat resemble real money. Bernard von NotHaus states the coins constitute a voluntary bartering system with both parties understand the coins are not actual US currency, he claims his system is an alternative, not a counterfeit to the US dollar.

I think this case opens up some interesting discussion about the nature of currency. We can all agree that children trading baseball cards, or World of Warcraft players trading digital weapons and armor does not constitute counterfeiting despite both cases developing a complex and intricate barter system complete with supply and demand relationships, price inflation, and fluctuating exchange rates with real currency. At what point do we cross the line and an innovative barter system becomes counterfeiting?

PS: In case anyone wonders, I have never owned nor have had any financial stake in the Liberty Dollar, and would strongly advise a consultation with a lawyer, an accountant, and a federal agency before accepting or using anything that could conceivably be construed as counterfeit money.

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Categories: World Events

7 replies

  1. coun·ter·feit (kountr-ft)
    v. coun·ter·feit·ed, coun·ter·feit·ing, coun·ter·feits
    1. To make a copy of, usually with the intent to defraud; forge: counterfeits money.
    2. To make a pretense of; feign: counterfeited interest in the story.
    1. To carry on a deception; dissemble.
    2. To make fraudulent copies of something valuable.
    1. Made in imitation of what is genuine with the intent to defraud: a counterfeit dollar bill.
    2. Simulated; feigned: a counterfeit illness.
    A fraudulent imitation or facsimile.

    Not sure this would fall under that definition. And I now want one. Off to ebay I go.

  2. There are quite a few local currencies available in the U.S. The Wörgl experiment in Austria seems to be the prototype for BerkShares . It may well be an idea whose time has come.

  3. That was the impetus for creating the Federal Reserve. Wasn’t all that long until the GovDebt got so bad that Nixon took us off of the Gold Standard. After FDR of course made owning gold illegal. With no serious attempt to curb government spending, there is concern that the next step could be hyperinflation. Hence, the reason that current investments in gold and silver have skyrocketed.

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