If It's Good Enough For Mickey, Why Not For Paul?
By, Alec MacGillis
November 19, 2007
Pirate's booty valid at Walt Disney World. (Walt Disney World News).
News of a federal raid last week on a "sound money" outfit that is selling "Ron Paul Dollars,"
reported in Saturday's Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/
content/article/2007/11/16/AR2007111602267.html), is generating no end of quips in the
blogosphere about what this development says about the Paul campaign's eye-popping recent
fundraising success. Wags ask: How much of that record $4.2 million one-day haul that Paul
collected earlier this month actually came in the form of dubloons imprinted with Paul's face,
not U.S. legal tender?
But these jokes may be missing the point entirely. In fact, the lack of confidence that many
Paul supporters have in U.S. currency may well be one reason why they are sending so many
of their greenbacks to Paul's campaign, and thereby making his outsider libertarian bid for the
Republican presidential nomination a force to be reckoned with. For sound-money supporters
who fear a coming collapse in the value of the dollar, it makes eminent sense to send a few
hundred dollars to the one candidate who is arguing for a monetary revolution, instead of
simply watching that money rapidly crumble in value.
As Exhibit A, consider Peter Schiff, a financial adviser and sound-money advocate whose
Connecticut firm, Euro Pacific Capital, specializes in investing clients' money in overseas
assets to spare them what he argues will be a destructive decline in the value of the dollar
followed by major deterioration in the U.S. economy. Schiff, who earlier this year published the
investment guide "Crash Proof," recently sent out a "call to action" e-mail to the 60,000 people
in his database urging them to send the $2,300 maximum-allowed contribution to Paul's
campaign, describing this as one of the most productive uses for their rapidly fading U.S.
"If you are fortunate enough to be one of my clients, writing a $2,300 check should not be a
problem. As I have likely made you tons of money over the years, here is an opportunity to
donate some of it to a worthy cause. We have made our money by betting against the U.S and
betting against the dollar. Giving $2,300 of our winnings to Ron Paul gives us the opportunity
to bet ON America for a change. And it's a bet none of us can afford to lose, and the best part
about it is that if we all make this bet together we can't lose," Schiff wrote in the e-mail. "My
penchant for foreign investments has from time to time caused some of my critics to label me
unpatriotic. While such attacks are clearly out of line, using some of our foreign profits to
secure the election of Ron Paul goes a long way toward defusing such allegations. If you are
not a client and you think $2,300 is a lot of money, it's not. In fact, if Ron Paul is not our next
President, such a sum will be practically worthless by the end of the term of whoever is. So
what do you have to lose? Just write the check and hope for the best."
In an interview today, Schiff said he expects that the federal raid on the National Organization
for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code had added more weight to
his argument for giving to the Paul campaign. "The federal government is debasing the
currency and then it comes in and punishes people who are doing something to protect
themselves," he said. "The fact that these guys would come in and raid this organization
shows how much they've got to fear from this. If more and more people start shunning the
currency, it takes away from their power."
Norfed, which is based in Evansville, Ind., says that in the last decade it has put into circulation
more than $20 million in "Liberty Dollars," metal medallions and paper certificates that it says
are backed by silver and gold stored in Idaho. The group's founder and director, Bernard von
NotHaus, says that federal agents seized more than 50,000 copper "Ron Paul Dollars" that the
group was selling for $1, in addition to smaller amounts of silver Ron Paul Dollars that sold for
$20, gold ones that went for $1,000 and platinum ones that went for $2,000. Agents also
raided the Idaho minting company that makes the organization's medallions, seizing the huge
pallets of silver and gold stored there, von NotHaus said.
The FBI and U.S. Attorney's office in western North Carolina, which is handling the case, have
declined to comment on the raids, but an affidavit filed in Asheville earlier this month describes
a two-year long undercover investigation of the group, based partly on evidence obtained by
an informant who posed as someone wanting to become a regional associate for the group.
The affidavit states the group is being investigated for federal violations including "uttering
coins of gold, silver or other metal" and "making of possessing likenesses of coins." "The goal
of Norfed is to undermine the United States goverment's financial systems by the issuance of a
non-governmental competing currency," the affidavit states.
This argument met with ridicule over the weekend from the prolific on-line network of Ron Paul
supporters and sound money advocates, some of whom sarcastically predicted that the feds
would next be going after Disneyworld for selling "Disney Dollars" for use inside the
amusement park. "Here is a Mickey Mouse coin issued by that criminal, separatist
organization, the Walt Disney Corporation. Did someone fail Common Sense 101?" wrote one
commenter on the Post's Web site, offering a link to an image of the offending Mickey dubloon.
Wrote another, "With commemorative coins advertised in every Sunday newspaper, and given
the Donald Duck silver coins sold at Disney Land, this is an obvious attack on Ron Paul, a
legitimate Presidential candidate, by the Federal Government. I am going to respond by going
to Ron Paul's web site, easily found with Google, and giving $100 today."
Lawrence White, an economics professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said Liberty
Dollar supporters had a point in charging overreaction on the part of the federal government.
The question to be asked of Liberty Dollars, he said, is whether they make any sense for
customers to buy -- while the certificates may offer a hedge for those convinced that the dollar
will go in the tank, they come with the obvious downside that it is difficult to find others willing
to accept the Liberty Dollars as a legal tender (though not in Berryville, Ark., where, according
to the chamber of commerce, about half of the town's 80 merchants accept Liberty Dollars.)But
that choice should be up to Americans to make, White said. "Unless they think people are
being defrauded, it seems absurd to me," he said of the raid."The public ought to have a
choice. Thank goodness we have an alternative to the post office."
A spokesman for the U.S. Mint responded to questions today by pointing reporters to the
"consumer alerts" portion of its Web site, which carries warnings against using Liberty Dollars
alongside warnings against mistaking as legitimate currency coins including: "Silver surfer"
quarters created to help market the Fox movie "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer"; a
"Freedom Tower Silver Dollar" originating from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands; and an "Elvis Presley 25th Anniversary Tennessee State Quarter Tribute."
A Paul campaign spokesman, Jesse Benton, today reiterated that the campaign has no
connection with the Ron Paul Dollars (though supporters have taken pictures of grinning Paul
next to the coins.) He said the campaign is seeing an "uptick" in Web site visits and
contributions following reports of the raid. The real test of the campaign's fundraising strength,
though, will come next month, when supporters are organizing another one-day fundraising
"bomb" timed with the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.
Von NotHaus is doing his part, urging on his Web site (which he says has seen a huge spike in
traffic) that supporters respond to the raid by contributing to Paul, as well as urging them to
sign up as part of a class-action lawsuit against the federal government over the coin seizures.
He is biding his time at his home in Miami, expecting to be arrested and indicted sometime in
the near future. In fact, he said today that he is kind of hoping that the government makes its
move sooner than later, so eager is he to make a stand on the part of sound money theories.
"I'm sure I'm going to be arrested, and I'd be disappointed if I'm not," he said. "I want to get
going. I think it's going to be exciting."