"AN ACT relating to the designation and use of silver and gold coin as media of exchange with respect to essential sovereign functions in the State of NEW HAMPSHIRE."

SOME COMMON QUESTIONS / OBJECTIONS ANSWERED

1. Americans have been using Federal Reserve Notes for some ninety years —so why stop now?
a. The Federal Reserve Notes Americans use today are not the same, economically or legally, as the Federal Reserve Notes used in previous decades.

Federal Reserve Notes have gone through a process of deterioration. From 1913 to 1933, they were directly redeemable in United States gold coin; and the banks were required to maintain a reserve of gold equal to forty percent of their outstanding notes. Redeemability of Federal Reserve Notes in gold for American citizens was terminated in 1933; but the notes remained indirectly redeemable in silver from 1933 until 1968. Redeemability of Federal Reserve Notes for foreigners was terminated in 1971. So, today, Federal Reserve Notes are irredeemable in gold or silver. See Title 31, United States Code, Section 5118(b, c). Thus, the present situation is radically different from what it was prior to 1968 or 1971.

Furthermore, the supply of Federal Reserve Notes (and of bank deposits payable in those notes) has greatly expanded since the 1950s, seriously eroding the purchasing power of all United States paper currency and base-metallic (“clad”) coinage. Indeed, from 1985 to 2000, while the production of material goods in the United States increased by 50%, the money supply increased by 300%.

In sum, today the purchasing power of Federal Reserve Notes has no anchor in a valuable monetary commodity (silver or gold); and the policy of the Federal Reserve System is to increase the supply of those notes (and related bank deposits), thereby further sinking the notes’ real value.

b. The proposed legislation does not stop—or in any way inhibit—the use of Federal Reserve Notes or base-metallic coin. It simply enables citizens of New Hampshire to use United States silver and gold coin in preference to other media of exchange in their monetary transactions with the State, if they choose to do so.

Both before and after the Federal Reserve System was created in 1913, the United States minted silver and gold coins. Entirely base-metallic “clad” coinage began to be minted only in 1970. So, today, Congress has authorized a multiform monetary system, consisting of Federal Reserve Notes irredeemable in silver or gold [see 12 U.S.C. § 411 and 31 U.S.C. § 5118(b)], base-metallic coin [see 31 U.S.C. § 5112(a)(1-6)], silver coins [see 31 U.S.C. 5112(e)], and gold coins [31 U.S.C. § 5112(a)(7-10)], all of which are equally “legal tender” [see 31 U.S.C. §§ 5103 and 5112(h)], and any of which any individual may use to the exclusion of the others [see 31 U.S.C. § 5118(d)(2)].

Under the proposed legislation, those citizens of New Hampshire who prefer to use irredeemable Federal Reserve Notes and base-metallic coinage may continue to do so. But they will make this choice intelligently, knowing of their option to use silver and gold coin instead.


2. Why should New Hampshire question what the national government is doing with regard to monetary policy?


New Hampshire is not questioning, but is actually implementing, Congres-sional monetary policy. As explained in No. 1, above, Congress has authorized several types of money as official media of exchange, but has not given a special position or preference to any. Through the proposed legislation, New Hampshire will enable its citizens to choose among these various media of exchange, and will facilitate their choices.

To fulfill its duty to protect its citizens’ economic welfare, New Hampshire needs to concern itself with the instability of the present monetary and banking regimes. See No. 4, below. Obviously, Congress, too, is concerned with this problem—or it would not have authorized the present multiform monetary system. See No. 1, above.


3. Is it really constitutional and otherwise legal for New Hampshire to offer its citizens monetary freedom of choice?

Absolutely.
a. Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution grants Congress the power “To coin Money”; and Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 provides that “No State shall * * * make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts”. Congress has authorized the coinage of silver and gold. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 5112(a)(1-7) (gold) and 5112(e) (silver). Congress has declared this coinage to be “legal tender”. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 5103 and 5112(h).

The proposed legislation simply allows and assists New Hampshire’s citizens to use this coinage for that purpose, according to their own free choices. Thus, the State obeys the constitutional requirement that it not “make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts”, by leaving that choice to its citizens. Congress has also licensed the Federal Reserve System to emit Federal Reserve Notes irredeemable in silver or gold. See 12 U.S.C. § 411 and 31 U.S.C. § 5118(b, c). Congress has authorized the minting of base-metallic coin. See 31 U.S.C. § 5112(a)(1-6). And Congress has declared Federal Reserve Notes and base-metallic coin to be “legal tender”. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 5103 and 5112(h). The proposed legislation allows and assists New Hampshire’s citizens to use Federal Reserve Notes and base-metallic coinage for that purpose, according to their own free choices.

Although the proposed legislation does adopt the various media of exchange that Congress has declared “legal tender”, as a matter of constitutional law it need not do so. For the Supreme Court has squarely held that Congress lacks any constitutional power to specify what the States shall use
as “legal tender” or media of exchange in the exercise of their reserved sovereign functions. See Lane County v. Oregon, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 71 (1869); Hagar v. Reclamation District No. 108, 111 U.S. 701 (1884). As the proposed legislation deals with New Hampshire’s reserved sovereign functions, it comes within these decisions.

b. Today, all United States coins and currencies, whenever minted or issued, are equally “legal tender”. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 5103 and 5112(h). The law makes no preferences among them. See Thompson v. Butler, 95 U.S. 695 (1878). Anyone may choose one form of “legal tender” as his medium of exchange, to the exclusion of any or all other forms. See 31 U.S.C. § 5118(d)(2). And the courts must honor and enforce such choices. See, e.g., Bronson v. Rodes, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 229 (1869); Butler v. Horwitz, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 258 (1869). So the proposed legislation simply aids New Hampshire’s citizens in doing what Congress and the courts recognize as people’s statutory rights.


4. Why should New Hampshire provide its citizens with monetary freedom of choice?

Monetary freedom of choice is necessary to stimulate and aid the circulation of United States silver and gold coin as media of exchange in normal transactions between New Hampshire and its citizens. This will provide the State and its citizens with some level of insurance against monetary and banking crises that can seriously undermine the value of irredeemable United States paper currency and base-metallic coin. Such insurance is necessary because, under the present Federal Reserve System, monetary and banking crises are likely, if not almost assured.

The Federal Reserve System is a central bank that operates on the principle of “fractional reserves”: that is, the System has insufficient “reserves”, or stocks of “lawful money”, to redeem all of its notes and deposits on demand. For that reason, the System is always prone to a catastrophic “bank run”, should the public lose confidence in its policies. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve Note is a near-fiat currency, redeemable only in United States base-metallic coins with little intrinsic value in the free market. In addition, the Federal Reserve System is a political central bank and the Federal Reserve Note a political currency, because the System’s policies, including changes in the supply of its currency and extensions of credit, are determined to a large degree according to political, rather than strictly economic, criteria.

A banking and monetary regime of this type is unstable and prone to crises arising out of both economic and political causes, domestic and foreign. Many of these causes find their genesis in the System itself:

• The exchange value of the Federal Reserve System’s currency (its purchasing power) is artificially inflated by its designation as “legal tender” and by the national government’s duty to redeem it in “lawful money” if the banks fail to do so.

• By means of so-called “monetization of public debt” the Federal Reserve System enables public officials to spend more than they otherwise could, without economic resistance from the free market and political resistance from the electorate. Thus, the System, in league with public officials, is a mechanism for the political redistribution of wealth from society at large to politically favored special-interest groups.

• Through monetization of private debt, the Federal Reserve System is a mechanism for the economic redistribution of wealth from society at large to the banks and their favored clients in the private sector.

•The Federal Reserve System’s monetization of both public and private debt inflates the supply of America’s (and the world’s) media of exchange, without control by the free market. This falsifies prices and thereby misallocates scarce resources, in the short term resulting in a lower standard of living for the vast majority of people and in the long run causing chronic “booms and busts”, characterized by excessive speculation, depreciation in the purchasing power of paper currency, economic stagnation, recessions, and even depressions.

The hope that the Federal Reserve System, the United States Treasury, Congress, or some other branch of the national government will prevent the inherent instability of the present banking and currency regimes from breaking out in crises is historically unfounded. Not only does the nationwide banking collapse of 1932 and subsequent Great Depression—which occurred under the auspices of the Federal Reserve System—prove otherwise, but also Congress has mandated that during such [financial] emergency period as the President * * * by proclamation may prescribe, no member bank of the Federal Reserve System shall transact any banking business except to such extent and subject to such regulations, limitations and restrictions as may be prescribed by the Secretary of theTreasury, with the approval of the President. 12 U.S.C. § 95(a). Obviously, as this statute proves, Congress believes even now in the possibility of banking and currency crises so horrendous that a financial dictatorship may be necessary to deal with them. That it would be better to prevent—or at the least to provide some insurance for Americans against—such crises and the political upheavals that will follow them, by reintroducing silver and gold coin into ordinary monetary transactions, cannot seriously be questioned.


5. Are arguments about the instability of the Federal Reserve System not simply sophisticated “scare tactics” and “fringe” thinking?


If so, then all insurance is based on “scare tactics”. No prudent individual, however, dismisses as mere “scare tactics” reasonable concerns about dangers that could arise in the future and recommendations that people attempt adequately to protect themselves against the financial consequences of such dangers. To be sure, certain kinds of insurance address the “fringes” of human experience, because the dangers against which they protect are remote or uncertain. Nevertheless, that does not mean that no insurance at all is warranted or prudent even in those situations. Critics of the proposed legislation fail to take into account that doing nothing may actually increase the likelihood of monetary and banking crises. That is, the best way to reduce the possibility of such crises, or to mitigate their severity, is precisely for Americans to reintegrate silver and gold coin into their financial transactions to a degree that stabilizes money and banking with a direct tie to the free market through silver and gold.

In any event, just as people who discount the possibility of fires, floods, or other catastrophes need not take out insurance for those contingencies, people who imagine that the dangers from monetary and banking instability are remote or uncertain need not participate in the program the proposed legislation will set up.


6. Will enough people in New Hampshire take advantage of monetary freedom of choice to make it worthwhile?

No absolute answer to this question is possible. However, as more and more people realize that the present Federal Reserve System is economically unstable, prone to manipulation and misuse for political purposes, and subject to unpredictable and almost inevitable crises from both domestic and foreign causes, they will recognize the advantages to themselves, their families, the State, and America as a whole from monetary diversification: the ability to move some or all of their monetary transactions from paper currency and base-metallic coin to silver and gold coin.

7. Is not monetary freedom of choice too complicated for the average person to understand?

In an era in which average Americans increasingly use personal computers or other data-processing equipment at home as well as at work, the notion that exercising choice in media of exchange is “too complicated” lacks plausibility. Many sites on the Internet already apprise people of the exchange rates between United States paper currency and base-metallic coin, on the one hand, and United States silver and gold coin, on the other. And the proposed legislation requires the State Treasurer, as well, to post that information on the Internet.


8. Is the present supply of United States silver and gold coin sufficient for the purpose of bringing monetary freedom of choice to New Hampshire; or will the United States Treasury have to mint more?

The present supply of United States silver and gold coin is certainly sufficient for the program the proposed statute sets up in New Hampshire, and most likely sufficient even if all the States implemented similar programs. Critics forget that, in a free market, prices of all goods and services will automatically and correctly adjust to the amount of silver and gold coin in circulation, whatever that may be. Moreover, it is far better to allow the free market to adjust prices to the amount of money in circulation, than to empower monopolistic banks or ponderous government bureaucracies to dictate the supply of money in inevitably futile attempts to control prices.

The first method is economically rational, because it integrates the supplies of all nonmonetary goods and services with the supply of money. The second method is economically arbitrary, because there are no rational criteria or standards for how high (or low) prices of goods or services ought to be, and no accurate means to fix prices. Indeed, setting prices in order to serve political purposes is the best and fastest way to throw the free market into chaos, and to lower the standard of living for the vast majority of people.

In any event, the supply of United States silver and gold coin is not unalterably fixed. Congress has mandated that the United States Treasury should mint sufficient silver and gold “American Eagle” or “Liberty” coins to meet public demand. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 5112(e) (silver coins) and 5112(i)(1) (gold coins). Therefore, the supply of silver and gold coin can increase step by step with the successful implementation of the proposed legislation.


9. If this program is put into widespread practice in New Hampshire, will there not be a “run” on silver and gold coins?

To the extent the proposed legislation succeeds in encouraging citizens to choose to use United States silver and gold coin in their monetary transactions, the demand for such coins in New Hampshire will increase. But the free market, responding to that new demand, will then automatically increase the supply of silver and gold coins in this State.

Most likely, all other things being equal, the purchasing power of silver and gold coins will increase (i.e., they will become more valuable than they are now). That, however, will result in decreases in the prices of goods and services measured in silver and gold. So, people whose monetary incomes or reserves are composed of silver and gold coin will see their standards of living rise. This process, though, will be gradual, and in any event will depend on how many citizens exercise their freedom of monetary choice in favor of silver and gold coin, and to what degree and how quickly they do it.


10. Are not silver and gold coins out of date as money?

If they were, Congress would not have mandated that they be coined in amounts sufficient to meet public demand, and that they be “legal tender”. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 5112(e) (silver coins) and 5112(i)(1) (gold coins); 5103 and 5112(h). Besides, the question of which forms of money are best suited to people’s needs should be decided through open and fair competition in the free market.


11. Will not the use of silver and gold coin as media of exchange be cumbersome?

Not necessarily. The proposed legislation anticipates that new private silver and gold depositaries will provide New Hampshire’s citizens (and perhaps the State as well) with facilities for storing and exchanging silver and gold coin for Federal Reserve Notes and base-metallic coin, and that exchanges will largely take place through such familiar and convenient means as checks. As utilization of the program becomes more widespread, methods of electronic transfers will doubtlessly become available.

The important point is not whether the use of silver and gold coin may be marginally inconvenient, but whether it will stabilize the monetary and banking systems, and protect the average person’s financial situation, by providing media of exchange with definite commodity values in the free market.


12. What forms of silver and gold will the State allow people to use?


All types of United States silver and gold coin, whenever minted, may be used—with the exception of coins that have special numismatic value (such as commemorative or rare pieces).

Private silver or gold coinage or privately generated “electronic money” that pays in silver or gold may not be used, because these are not “legal tender”.


13. From what sources will people obtain silver and gold coin to exchange with the State?

Initially, people will obtain silver and gold coin from private coin dealers, or (if they are creditors of the State) from the State Treasury. As the program expands, people can expect increasingly to find silver and gold coin being used in day-to-day transactions in the free market, too.

At the present time, individuals cannot obtain United States silver and gold coin from Federal Reserve banks or directly from the United States Treasury. If the program the proposed legislation sets up succeeds, however, that likely may change.


14. Will the State impose a limit on the premiums or commissions that may be charged by private dealers who trade silver and gold coin?


No. The heights of premiums or commissions for trading silver and gold are best left to the free market. If the program the proposed legislation sets up succeeds, however, competition will drive these costs to the lowest possible levels.


15. What State taxes, fees, and other charges will be payable in United States silver and gold coin?

The intent of the proposed legislation is to make every State tax, fee, or other charge payable in silver and gold coin for those who choose to use those media of exchange.


16. Will not a program of monetary freedom of choice be expensive to put into practice?

The initial cost of setting up the State depositories authorized in the proposed legislation is anticipated to be reasonable. The legislation presumes, moreover, that the functions of the State depositaries will soon be augmented, if not superseded, by private silver and gold deposit banks that the free market will bring into existence.

In any event, New Hampshire has a duty to protect its citizens’ financial well being, as well as their health and safety. That performing this duty may entail costs does not justify shirking that responsibility.


17. Will complications arise if an individual wants to use both gold or silver coins, and Federal Reserve Notes, in a single transaction?

Perhaps, but they will not be particularly serious. Typically, the size of a transaction will determine what medium or media of exchange may be usefully employed. Small transactions will likely be paid in silver, large transactions in gold. Instances may arise, however, in which, for example, a sizable portion of a large transaction will be paid in gold coins, but the remainder in silver coins (or Federal Reserve Notes or United States base-metallic coins) simply because there are no gold coins of sufficiently low value available. In an era in which electronic calculators are almost universally in use, though, determining how much should be paid in what medium of exchange for what amount should pose no problem, once people become accustomed to thinking in terms of multiple currencies.


18. If the Constitution and laws of the United States already allow States and individuals to use United States silver and gold coins as their media of exchange, why does New Hampshire need a new statute on the subject?

To authorize and direct the State Treasurer and other officials as to how and in what circumstances to use United States silver and gold coins as media of exchange for public purposes. The proposed legislation provides freedom of choice in media of exchange to those people who deal with the State in the exercise of its sovereign functions. But facilitating their choices requires that public officials be given clear guidelines on how to proceed, so that everyone who avails himself of the new system will be treated fairly, uniformly, and expeditiously.

19. Will the requirement in the Patriot Act that some purchases of silver or gold from dealers be reported to government agencies have an adverse effect on what New Hampshire is proposing to do?

No. Reporting requirements are designed to expose tax cheats, money launderers, and clandestine flows of funds for illegal purposes. The proposed legislation addresses legitimate transactions in the public domain. No one dealing with the State or with legitimate dealers in precious metals for
lawful purposes should worry. This is not to say that the Patriot Act and similar legislation raise no concerns about privacy. Those concerns, however, apply equally to reporting requirements already in place that affect banks and similar financial institutions. Reporting requirements should have no
disproportionate effect on the legal use of silver and gold coins, especially where the ultimate transactions involve the State.


20. How will the State detect manipulated or counterfeit coins?

Quite easily. Manipulated coins—ones, for example, that have been clipped, shaved, or filed to remove some of their precious-metal contents—as well as out-and-out counterfeits can be readily detected with inexpensive devices already commercially available, and commonly in use by dealers in precious metals. Moreover, most bad coins will probably be discovered by simple visual inspection alone.