Originally posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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Respectable gold standard advocates reject the premise that “in going off the gold standard in 1933, the U.S. switched from real money to fictional money.”

The Straight Dope is an erudite and witty weekly column written under the nom de guerre Cecil Adams (rumored to be one Ed Zotti).  It appears weekly in 30 US newspapers.  According to the Straight Dope website “Cecil Adams is the world’s most intelligent human being.  We know this because: (1) he knows everything, and (2) he is never wrong. … (H)e said so, and he would never lie to us.”

This writer agrees that … this is no ordinary man.

It is therefore  an unalloyed pleasure to read the Straight Dope’s answer to “Can I avoid paying a tax bill by writing ‘accepted for value’ on it.”

Dear Cecil:

I’ve heard you can avoid paying a tax bill, traffic ticket, or other debt by writing “accepted for value” on it. I understand that’s nonsense, of course. But I’m curious: how is this supposed to work? …  The websites I’ve consulted offer a convoluted explanation involving the gold standard and the Uniform Commercial Code, where nothing is what it seems….

Cecil replies:

You’re right, there’s a logic at work here. Granted, it’s logic that only a psychotic can fully appreciate. …

Looked at in that way, sovereign citizenship has a certain crackpot nobility to it, provided you ignore the racist and anti-Semitic aspects. Once you delve into the details, though, you see the whole thing is just crackpot, period. Here’s a rundown:

    • Sovereign citizens contend that in presenting you with a tax bill or traffic ticket, the government is simply making you an offer. By responding with “accepted for value” you’re making a counteroffer. …
    • The counteroffer you’re supposedly making is that whatever debt you owe should be charged against the secret account maintained on your behalf by the U.S. Treasury. The premise is that in going off the gold standard in 1933, the U.S. switched from real money to fictional money. As collateral for its worthless cash, the feds pledged the future labor value of U.S. citizens to foreign investors. This value is maintained in the secret account created when you, or rather the fictional person established in your name, receives a social security number at birth. In essence, by writing ”accepted for value” on a debt notice, you’re telling the government to put it on your tab.

The view of federal reserve notes as somehow “fictional” or the purported existence of a “secret account” reminds us of the shrewd characterization by two Wall Street Journal reporters made on May 7, 2011 of gold as “Once considered a haven for those with bleak economic outlooks or dystopian views of society”.

Gold standard advocacy no longer is the province, much less primarily the province, of mavericks or eccentrics.  The delegates to the Constitutional Convention, the record indeed and indisputably shows, expected the dollar to consist of precious metals — defined, for example, as a fixed weight of gold with currency legally convertible thereto.  States were prohibited from issuing paper money and the power to issue inconvertible paper money was very deliberately withheld from the federal government.

That said, no respected advocate, of whom there are many, of a 21st century gold standard interprets the constitution or its history in such a way as to invalidate, legally,  federal reserve notes as legal tender.  No such advocates such maverick behavior as providing an “accepted for value” response to an assessment by the legal authorities, nor vigilante-style conduct.

The contemporary discourse, both popular and elite, is filled with the thoughtful, well-researched and well-presented writings of academics, public intellectuals, political leaders, financiers, economists, policy experts and mainstream journalists recognizing the classical gold standard as the least imperfect monetary system ever tried in the laboratory of history.