Did Bernard von NotHaus Counterfeit Coins?

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A jury just found NotHaus guilty of counterfeiting U.S. coins. The coins or medallions that he had produced by a mint were pure silver, worth many times the value of any U.S. coin asserted to be that which was counterfeited. That fact alone tells me that the prosecution had NO case on the counterfeiting charge. (My comment is restricted to that feature alone, as I have not heard about or read about this case until today and it has other aspects and charges.) He should not have been found guilty of counterfeiting. 

The language used by the U.S. prosecution is very, very bad too. It shows the dire condition of freedom in the U.S. I quote from a news article:

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Secret Service with help from the U.S. Mint.

“We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government,” Tompkins said.

What is so bad about these remarks? (1) NotHaus didn’t try to undermine the U.S. currency in any direct way or by use of counterfeiting. He  developed a competing currency within the law. Where is it written in the Constitution that private citizens may not use whatever they please among themselves as a medium of exchange? There is no such provision. The government, not we private citizens, is restricted to gold and silver by the U.S. Constitution. Tompkins is way off base. (2) Undermining the use of U.S. coins and Federal Reserve Notes through open competition with the coins and notes of foreign lands is legitimate. We could agree to trade in Marks or Yens or Loonies and we would face no trials. Why can’t private citizens of the U.S. issue their own means of payment and use them? Competition is competition. (3) There is no threat of economic instability when private citizens agree on a non-governmental means of payment. It’s just the opposite! Such an activity adds value for the users and, by moving away from U.S. currency, increases stability, if anything. (4) Tagging this or similar activities as “domestic terrorism” is hyperbole. Terrorism is almost by definition something that involves violence of particular sorts. Issuing silver rounds that have many times the value of U.S. coins is hardly terror. Anyone who accidentally came into possession of such a round, thinking it was a U.S. coin, would have a windfall gain, since the silver in it is worth many times the clad metal in a U.S. slug coin. (5) Does the legitimacy of democratic government preclude the power of private citizens to use any means of payment they decide to use? That is what Tompkins asserts. How can that be so? Since when does democracy mean restrictions on monetary freedom? This is doubletalk by Tompkins and very misleading. It says that slavery (restriction on monetary freedom) = freedom. It’s utter tripe.

Overall, the remarks of Tompkins show me someone saying things that are fantastical. She is living in a fantasy, and I think that she is far from being alone. These delusions and fantasies inhabit the minds of government officials everywhere, and they are readily sopped up by commentators and the public. That is probably one reason why the jury took just 90 minutes to find NotHaus guilty. They believe in these fantasies too.

The trial outcome as to counterfeiting looks to me like an utter travesty.

8:04 am on March 20, 2011