Liberty Dollars in Jail
March 21, 2011 11:42 PM   Subscribe

Bernard NotHaus has been convicted of possessing and selling coins that resemble United States coins, violating U.S.C. 18 § 486 and other US statutes. This follows three years after a raid on the Liberty Dollar offices. The trial took four days, the deliberation all of two hours. The US government is now pursuing a forfeiture case against Liberty Services for approximately $7 Million. (previously)

A complete record of the trial (by a supporter of NotHaus) can be found here.

The Liberty Dollar website has been down due to court order for some time now. The wayback machine has a record of the page from back then.

There is no word on the status of the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, of which NotHaus was the high priest.
posted by Hactar (158 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mr. Monopoly must be the government's next target in this war against counterfeit currency.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:57 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's it, I'm selling off my stock in Dollerz™ - the money that looks like it's real! Also, how does one luck out into the last name of von NotHaus? Some people...
posted by sysinfo at 12:02 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bernard von Haus was arrested first, by mistake.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:06 AM on March 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


Governments jealously guard the ability to mint coinage. As originally conceived, it was probably more for consumer protection than anything else; ensuring the purity and weight of coins has a very real economic function. Private currencies, in broadly general terms, are dangerous, prone to fraud and collapse, with severe economic consequences. Thus, Congress' exclusive right to mint gold and silver coins is written right into the Constitution. This guy doesn't have a leg to stand on.

It is worth pointing out, however, that these Liberty dollars were worth one hell of a lot more than the real thing, and their value is retained after the collapse of the issuing authority. If you were using them, you're in perfectly good shape, still able to trade that currency at full value. It didn't derive value from government authority, but from its physical content. I'd argue that, as an end user, Liberties are a safer store of value than most (all?) paper currencies.

This sort of thing might legally work if they were to use platinum coins, and not call them dollars.
posted by Malor at 12:06 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


(oh, and shape them differently than existing currency, so that vending machines couldn't use them unless explicitly designed to. You'd be insane to use one of these coins in a vending machine, and preventing accidental use would both be an important consumer protection and a strong legal argument that they can't be confused with official coins.)
posted by Malor at 12:08 AM on March 22, 2011


Malor,

Humor me for a moment? I see, in Section 8, that Congress has the power:
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
and in Section 10:
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
I'm not sure I see how these clauses imply that only the US government may issue gold and silver coin. Section 10 clearly refers to state actors. Section 8 grants powers to Congress, but they seem more exclusive to Congress relative to the rest of government. Is it even a sensical statement to say that the Constitution bans individuals from borrowing on the name of the United States?

Just genuinely curious what the active theory here is.
posted by effugas at 12:17 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


"If you were using them, you're in perfectly good shape"

Unless you want to shop somehwere other than Bob's Guns, Ammo, and The Rapture is Coming Nigh store.

"I'd argue that, as an end user, Liberties are a safer store of value than most (all?) paper currencies."

I can bury some gold bullion in my backyard. I guess that makes it "safe," but also, effetively, utterly worthless.
posted by bardic at 12:18 AM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


During the raid, about a dozen agents seized nearly two tons of coins that featured the image of Ron Paul

Kruger-Rand-Paul
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:19 AM on March 22, 2011 [30 favorites]


"I'd argue that, as an end user, Liberties are a safer store of value than most (all?) paper currencies."

During the Argentinian collapse a decade ago, one Argentinian survivalist made a name for himself afterwards by describing in great detail on survivalist message boards how he'd prepared, how his preparations failed, and how the experience taught him a lot about actually living through difficult times (lesson one: besides rice, store chocolate--lots and lots of chocolate, because salted rice gets amazingly boring to eat by about the third month).

One point he stressed was that gold krugerrands were worthless to invest in as a store of value for times of collapse, because you don't get pure gold prices for them. People at black markets don't have the ability or desire to properly assay a gold coin, so they're treated as junk gold and give you junk gold prices. As a result, he now combs pawn shops for gold jewelry that's infinitely more tradeable on a black market.

That's not to say that pure gold wouldn't be valuable after civilization has recovered, but that eventually doesn't seem to be frequently prepared for amongst that crowd.
posted by fatbird at 12:26 AM on March 22, 2011 [29 favorites]


During the raid, about a dozen agents seized nearly two tons of coins that featured the image of Ron Paul

Funny money.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:26 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unless you want to shop somehwere other than Bob's Guns, Ammo, and The Rapture is Coming Nigh store.

Well, I didn't see that there were paper notes involved, which have probably become worthless, except for novelty value. But the actual coins are just silver coins, and they retain their normal silver value. Any customer holding those coins will easily be able to sell them, probably for a fair bit more than they originally paid. They have real value, independent of the people who made them. They'll probably just end up being melted down and re-minted into new coins.

effugas, I'll have to reread those sections of the Constitution. This isn't something I think about very often, so I may have misremembered.
posted by Malor at 12:32 AM on March 22, 2011


"they retain their normal silver value"

At a dedicated coin or antique shop, yes. Anywhere else, no.

"Any customer holding those coins will easily be able to sell them"

Really? Where? How? Certainly not in a conventional commercial setting.

"They have real value, independent of the people who made them."

Just like US dollars. Except I can actually purchase goods and services with one, and with a lump of metal I need to find a middle-man to convert my lump into cash. Interesting.

"end up being melted down and re-minted into new coins"

Pretty sure this hasn't happened for about two or three centuries now. But good luck with that.
posted by bardic at 12:37 AM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Liberty Dollar scam is very difficult to explain, so here's a self-quote from my page:
The Liberty Dollar is manufactured by NORFED, a corporation mostly controlled by Bernard von NotHaus. Von NotHaus's previous adventures include the "Royal Hawaiian Mint", an alternative currency for Hawaii which utilized many of the confusing factors described below. Like the Liberty Dollar, the "Royal Hawaiian Mint" skirted the line of legality, easily masquerading as real money or at least exchangeable with USD at face value when it was really only worth its bullion value. The "Royal" mint then went bankrupt. Von NotHaus is not exactly the most honest character.

I'd also like to point out NORFED's multilevel marketing techiques. Using Liberty Dollars alone is only half of the "fun". You can also sell them to your friends and pocket some of the profit. [I saw one of these people selling coins at a Ron Paul rally... it looked very similar to an MLM operation.] If you describe them as von NotHaus does you will spread the confusion I am about to describe and are therefore ripping your friends off.

Liberty Dollars label mass and fineness but you will not see them being sold at those prices. Here's why: NORFED puts a USD face value on these coins, creating much confusion. The following explanation is somewhat easy to get lost in so please read it carefully.

Liberty Dollars are not actually worth their USD face value in bullion. Such a claim would be literally impossible because the USD-to-silver exchange rate changes every day. The silver they contain is actually worth less than the face value, or retail price, they are sold at, usually around half as much. Nonetheless, Liberty Dollar advocates will push their coins onto unsuspecting retailers asking for change in USD, because NORFED claims they will redeem their "$50 MSRP" Liberty Dollars for $50 worth of silver. It is actually even more complicated than that (if there is inflation you won't get the whole face value back) but this explanation alone demonstrates the dishonesty inherent in the system so I will not go into that.

The assertion that any AMC corporation is more likely to stay in operation than the United States government is extremely dubious. Even if the USA is heading for a fall, who would protect NORFED's silver vaults in a time of anarchy simply for the purpose of allowing visitors to exchange the small amount of silver in a Liberty Dollar for some larger amount of silver in the vault?

Additionally, because NORFED makes these confusing claims and prints money that looks confusingly like American coins, the United States Mint takes a very dim view of their operations. They have already been raided once, and although NORFED is technically within the law by printing private barter currency, they may well lose their case on a technicality, or even be bankrupted by lawyer's fees due to the complexity they have created for themselves. The ability of the Liberty Dollar to be exchanged face-for-bullion in the long term is quite doubtful. Liberty Dollars, therefore, should be enjoyed primarily for their entertainment, or numismatical value; do not take any stock in their claim to be actually worth their face value.

The long and the short of it is this is not a true silver currency but rather Monopoly money. If the idea of AMCs amuses you, feel free to accept "$1" or "$5" Liberty Dollars and eat the difference. You might even be able to exchange these small coins with other enthusiasts for face value. But do not under any circumstances exchange a "$50 MSRP" Liberty Dollar for fifty United States dollars. You are being swindled. The true silver currency, needless to say, is unlabelled silver.

Similarly, if you buy into NORFED's multilevel marketing scheme and bring up their pro-gold-reserve arguments to peddle a fully artificial currency, you are participating in the swindling.
posted by shii at 12:38 AM on March 22, 2011 [46 favorites]


Oh, and fatbird: I'm not talking about total collapse, I'm talking about just storing value. The Fed is printing money like crazy, and commodities everywhere are getting very expensive. It's not so much that the commodities are worth more, it's that the paper money is worth less.

It is, in essence, yet another giant transfer of wealth from your pocket to the banks, above and beyond the bailouts. Commodities in general are a method of protecting against currency devaluation. It's terrible for the economy when people start storing wealth this way, but it's to be expected when such large-scale theft is going on.

Really? Where? How? Certainly not in a conventional commercial setting.

Almost any reputable bullion shop should give spot minus five or ten percent in cash for those coins. They're not hard to find. Dunno about your area, but they're all over around here. I spotted a shop about five minutes away. (Not Cash4Gold, which is a racket, but regular bullion places.)

At a dedicated coin or antique shop, yes. Anywhere else, no.

You can often get pretty good prices even in pawn shops, although it depends on the shop in question. Some are scams, some are decent. American Eagles usually go for over spot... spot plus five isn't that uncommon, at least if you sell online.

Just like US dollars. Except I can actually purchase goods and services with one, and with a lump of metal I need to find a middle-man to convert my lump into cash. Interesting.

If you have a dime from 1960, it's worth about $2.50 today. A dime from 1965 is worth ten cents. Which do you think did a better job of holding value?

Pretty sure this hasn't happened for about two or three centuries now. But good luck with that.

Dude, coins get melted and either recast or refined back into bullion all the darn time. It's very common. There's a huge scrap gold and silver market. Coins fit into that pipeline just as well as earrings.
posted by Malor at 12:48 AM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


That sounds like a cool article, fatbird! You got a link for that?
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:52 AM on March 22, 2011


"any reputable bullion shop"

Ah yes, I believe I saw one of those at Target, next to the food court.

"If you have a dime from 1960, it's worth about $2.50 today. A dime from 1965 is worth ten cents. Which do you think did a better job of holding value?"

Only an idiot would bury money in the backyard and expect a return. Of course cold lumps of metal don't appreciate unless you put them to work in markets, and markets are not a zero-sum game. There is no finite limit to wealth, because value can be added and re-added. And there's certainly no finite limit based on how many protons and neutrons came together in the earth's crust to make gold and silver billions of years ago.

"Dude, coins get melted and either recast or refined back into bullion all the darn time. It's very common."

I guess I live under a rock. I've lived in many countries and travelled in even more -- never seen it done except in the fervid dreams of survivalists and/or goldbugs. And maybe Dungeons and Dragons a few times.
posted by bardic at 1:00 AM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


But the actual coins are just silver coins, and they retain their normal silver value.

What is the "normal" silver value? The price of silver, like that of any other commodity, fluctuates with supply and demand.

Any customer holding those coins will easily be able to sell them, probably for a fair bit more than they originally paid.

As shii has noted, this is definitely not the case. The companies selling these coins (whether it's NORFED or Glenn Beck's favourite Goldline) extract extortionate markups.

They have real value, independent of the people who made them.

Like about anything else, they have only as much "value" as somebody is ready to pay or barter for them. Unless you are preparing for a societal collapse (and in that case you'd normally better off investing in a more utilitarian currency, like cigarrettes, chocolate or canned food), precious metals are just one of many investments you may choose from.

The problem with goldbugs is that they obstinately refuse to understand that there is no such thing as a Platonic "real value" for things. All economic activity is a constant bartering between goods and services we need or want and goods and services we have or can provide, and their value is always going to be relative and subject to supply and demand. Money, whether coined, paper, or electronic, is just a convenient stand-in for those goods and services we barter. This is also why a poor man with no needs is infinitely more wealthy than a billionaire with too many wants.
posted by Skeptic at 2:03 AM on March 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


(Also what the people falling into the gold and silver coin swindle ought to consider is that NORFED and Goldline are conspicuously eager to take "worthless" US Dollars as payment for their "real value" gold and silver coins.)
posted by Skeptic at 2:12 AM on March 22, 2011 [25 favorites]


tried to introduce a currency that competed with the U.S. dollar

S-so this is why Wim Duisenberg was found face down in his swimming pool.
posted by chavenet at 2:28 AM on March 22, 2011


Just genuinely curious what the active theory here is.

The Constitution is just a God Damn piece of paper - as said by a philosopher-king of the last decade.

Like with the Marijuana church - NORFED was a finger in the eye of the establishment and the establishment eventually took a wack at the uppity surf.

Well, I didn't see that there were paper notes involved, which have probably become worthless,

There were paper and electronic warehouse receipts - they were supposed to be a private contract with Sunshine mint. Part of the metal grabbed from Sunshine mint was from that privately stored metal and the government is claiming that was property of the Liberty Dollar.

The best I understand things - no ones private warehouse receipts have been honored after the seizure.

"If you have a dime from 1960, it's worth about $2.50 today. A dime from 1965 is worth ten cents. Which do you think did a better job of holding value?"
Only an idiot would bury money in the backyard and expect a return


Yes, because the inflation in the 'value' of that 1960 dime is due to actual inflation. As in "The supply of money increased". Printing up more money has historically resulted in the currency printed becoming worthless and rejected. After the 1st attempt at running a national government over the States and Commonwealths collapsed along with the fiat money of its time called the Continental, the present Republic was formed with a clause put in place to try and prevent run away Government printing of money by tying it to something of a physically limited nature to prevent inflation.

But hey, the true believers can get and try to barter AOSC mint products like the George Bush NeoCoin

I'm not sure I see how these clauses imply that only the US government may issue gold and silver coin.

That is correct and even the US Mint had such a position back in the day. Its why places like the AOSC exist. And why many people who were brought up on local charges for using "Liberty Dollars" were dropped.
The position now is more nuanced - you have to be trying to undermine the Federal Reserve Note (because if you do business in the face value of the Mints .999 fine gold you get nailed for tax evasion when the State has a 2nd trial).

This is also why a poor man with no needs is infinitely more wealthy than a billionaire with too many wants.

And someone with the printing press for the money supply sure does look wealthy - till the bulk printed Currency becomes, well, worthless. Best hope the Corporations which own the Federal Reserve Banking system are looking out for the citizens best interests.....
posted by rough ashlar at 2:51 AM on March 22, 2011


"Dude, coins get melted and either recast or refined back into bullion all the darn time. It's very common."
I guess I live under a rock. I've lived in many countries and travelled in even more -- never seen it done


Now there's a compelling argument - if you have never been to a metal refining/smelting operation you would not have seen the smelting/recasting and therefore it does not happen.

I'd hope Metafilter would have a higher bar for discussion than I didn't see it, it doesn't happen.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:57 AM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


It is worth pointing out, however, that these Liberty dollars were worth one hell of a lot more than the real thing, and their value is retained after the collapse of the issuing authority. If you were using them, you're in perfectly good shape, still able to trade that currency at full value. It didn't derive value from government authority, but from its physical content. I'd argue that, as an end user, Liberties are a safer store of value than most (all?) paper currencies.

I paid my 5 dollars when 5 dollars was still worth 5 dollars so why am I still seeing ads for Goldline?
posted by three blind mice at 3:11 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, because the inflation in the 'value' of that 1960 dime is due to actual inflation.

"Inflation" is a vastly more complex concept than that. For instance, a dime may buy you much less silver than in 1960, but a basic color TV set used to cost 399.95 USD in 1965. That sort of money will now buy you a larger, fancier, high-def, super flat TV. Goods and services fluctuate in value against each other all the time.

The price of money, like everybody else, is subject to supply or demand. When deciding on how to distribute your wealth, you will have to consider, for each investment, whether there is going to be a good future demand, compared with supply, but also on whether you will be able to exchange it for the things you are going to want, that is, its "liquidity". The role of legal tender is not to generate a high return on investment, but to be liquid, by definition. Of course stuffing legal tender in your mattress is a stupid sort of investment: it is simply not what it is designed to do.
posted by Skeptic at 3:11 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is this related to the late-nite commercials for cheap 'gold plated' 'reproduction' coins? I remember seeing one that was going on and on about being clad in 99.9999% gold or something.
According to federal prosecutors, Liberty coins were marked with the dollar sign; the words "dollar," "USA," "Liberty," "Trust in God" (instead of "In God We Trust"); and other features associated with legitimate U.S. coins.
Yeah, this is part of the problem, morons could be duped into thinking they were real.
It is worth pointing out, however, that these Liberty dollars were worth one hell of a lot more than the real thing, and their value is retained after the collapse of the issuing authority. If you were using them, you're in perfectly good shape, still able to trade that currency at full value. It didn't derive value from government authority, but from its physical content. I'd argue that, as an end user, Liberties are a safer store of value than most (all?) paper currencies.
It seems like the guy was selling paper currency. I seriously doubt the paper notes are worth anything at all, especially as they would be pretty easy to forge.
But the actual coins are just silver coins, and they retain their normal silver value. Any customer holding those coins will easily be able to sell them, probably for a fair bit more than they originally paid.
Not nessisarally. They won't be as convertable as, for exmaple electronic gold shares like SLV. You'll have to find someone who will buy them. And just like the paper notes, it would be easy to create new ones with lower silver content. They value wouldn't drop as much, since you'd still need some silver, but they wouldn't be worth their face value in silver content. And apparently these coins had only half their face value in silver when they were minted.

So just like the crap goldline was selling, you have to wait for the value of silver to double before you could actually make money on these coins.

If you want to invest in gold and silver, the best thing to do is buy shares in the ETFs GLD and SLV, if you just want to hedge against inflation instead of worrying that society is going to colapse.
posted by delmoi at 3:13 AM on March 22, 2011


only the US government may issue gold and silver coin.
That is correct


Mea Culpa here - "coin" is the magical word. Its why the smashing of metal with an image in a round shape is called a medallion.

So yea, the government wants the power to "mint" "coins", but others can make round things with images on 'em. So long as no one who uses 'em/makes 'em calls 'em coins.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:14 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any customer holding those coins will easily be able to sell them, probably for a fair bit more than they originally paid.

No way. See shii's quoted article. The MSRP, purchase price and/or face value is probably above the melt value. These kinds of schemes have been around for a while where people charge too much for gold coins, and people buy them without bothering to do the math and current real value of gold.

And you know what? The only thing gold would be good for in an economic collapse is bribing guards and/or thugs. If you think random shopkeeps or people with goods or services you want are going to sit down and assay gold coins - much less give change or act as a moneychanger - I think you're possibly mad. Sure, you might be able to spend them - but at a steep service fee.

Put a gold brick and a loaf of bread in front of any relatively sane, hungry person on the go in a time of collapse or upheaval and they're going to take the loaf of bread.

If survival nuts really wanted to stock up useful, portable currency for when the excrement really hits the air conditioning they'd be better off stockpiling cigarettes, booze, condoms, candy and chocolate. Batteries. Matches. Hell, q-tips. Weed. Creature comforts. Auntie Entity didn't run Bartertown on pigshit alone.
posted by loquacious at 3:25 AM on March 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


Any customer holding those coins will easily be able to sell them, probably for a fair bit more than they originally paid.
No way.


Way.

See shii's quoted article.

Hot tip - Shii's article is slanted and makes statements that are incorrect or were correct at certain points in time and later changed. Just because something is marked 'favorite' doesn't make it accurate.

Silver is over $30. The common 1 ounce silver Liberty Dollar from them had a face value of $20. For your "no way" to be accurate, the person who holds a Liberty Dollar piece would have had to have been one of the people who paid $250 for a Ron Paul $20 Liberty Dollar. But for anyone who bought/got a Liberty Dollar for face value - the scrap price exceeds that face value.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:36 AM on March 22, 2011


loquacious :And you know what? The only thing gold would be good for in an economic collapse is bribing guards and/or thugs.

As mentioned upthread, one of you has played a bit too much D&D.


Put a gold brick and a loaf of bread in front of any relatively sane, hungry person on the go in a time of collapse or upheaval and they're going to take the loaf of bread.

Society collapses. You have far more than enough food and ammunition. A neighbor knocks on your door and wants to trade with you for some food. Assuming you don't just shoot him and raid his newly undefended house, do you...
A) Take now-worthless US dollars,
B) Take nothing, allowing a parasite to drain your own stored resources, or
C) Take precious metals which have historically maintained their value through precisely such situations?

Even in complete economic collapse, people will still want to trade for goods and services, and not everyone will specifically have something you want to take in barter.


If survival nuts really wanted to stock up useful, portable currency for when the excrement really hits the air conditioning they'd be better off stockpiling cigarettes, booze, condoms, candy and chocolate. Batteries. Matches. Hell, q-tips. Weed. Creature comforts.

If you think the survivalists have nothing but pre-1964 US coins in their bunker, you might want to read up a bit more on their culture. Necessities first, then ammo, then luxuries (alcohol, weed, chocolate, toiletries), THEN trading material such as silver and gold.
posted by pla at 3:38 AM on March 22, 2011


Take precious metals which have historically maintained their value through precisely such situations?

Have they? When?

You see, the funny thing is that gold are silver are hardly used in recent or current crisis spots. In Zimbabwe, despite eye-watering hyperinflation, nobody turned to gold, and that despite most of the world's gold supply being around the corner. Instead, US dollars have been "de rigueur". Somalian pirates don't demand ransoms in bullion, either. When the shit hit the fan in former Yugoslavia, the currency of choice was the D-Mark. Even during World War II, "cigarrette currency" turned up to be much more useful than gold.
posted by Skeptic at 3:51 AM on March 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Actually, in the last 50 years or so in situations of economic and or societal collapse, it's US dollars that become the coin of the realm.

There's a reason CIA agents ran around Iraq and Afghanistan with bags of 100 dollar bills, as opposed to sacks of gold dust and lumps of silver. And the people who took these dollars didn't worry too much about goldbug/Rand Paulian fantasies of the Fed somehow losing its ability to back up values overnight.

Although I'm sure things like bottled water and ammunition were also highly prized.
posted by bardic at 3:53 AM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Skeptic beat me to it.
posted by bardic at 3:54 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Silver is over $30. The common 1 ounce silver Liberty Dollar from them had a face value of $20.

The price of silver has actually gone up 83% since since last september. It may be that the liberty coins are worth more then their face value today, but if you paid $20 for one in, say, 2009 or early 2010, you would be paying a lot more then face value.

If you just bought pure silver, or shares in SLV you'd have more money then you would if you bought liberty dollars.
posted by delmoi at 3:59 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you just bought pure silver, or shares in SLV you'd have more money then you would if you bought liberty dollars.

But that was not the point which was brought up - it was face value VS its melt value. Face values on 1 ounce silver Liberty Dollars were as low as $10.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:03 AM on March 22, 2011


There's a reason CIA agents ran around Iraq and Afghanistan with bags of 100 dollar bills, as opposed to sacks of gold dust and lumps of silver. And the people who took these dollars didn't worry too much about goldbug/Rand Paulian fantasies of the Fed somehow losing its ability to back up values overnight.
Sure, but the gold bugs are worried about the collapse of the United States. Of course then people would probably turn to Euro notes or Yen. The possible of a coordinated global collapse seems pretty low to me. And if it did come to pass, what would you even spend your gold on?

What's interesting about all post-apocalyptic stories is that there's always extreme deprivation. But think about it, if there was a mass human die off there would be a ton of stuff available. Tons and tons of gold for each person. Gold itself wouldn't be worth nearly what it's worth today.

The real value of society is the knowledge of people who know how to build stuff. The only way society could collapse is all those people suddenly forgot everything, and all the books were lost.

The idea that society is fragile is just stupid. The structures of society are embedded in culture. They don't just go away. Just look at Europe after WWII. It didn't date long for the continent to bounce back despite an incredibly destructive war.
posted by delmoi at 4:04 AM on March 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


The way the Liberty Dollar scheme worked, when the company was in operation, was that every time the silver/gold value of the coin got too close to the MSRP, they would double the printed MSRP as well as the sale price.

The fact that a "$20" Ron Paul coin is now worth $50 in silver or whatever simply reflects that the company is out of business now and can no longer confuse people with these tactics. The original intent was that MSRP would always be higher than bullion value.
posted by shii at 4:04 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


But think about it, if there was a mass human die off there would be a ton of stuff available. Tons and tons of gold for each person. Gold itself wouldn't be worth nearly what it's worth today.

Mighty big die-off you've got there. Three thousand or so new tons of gold extracted a year with 165600 or so tons of above ground gold estimated in 2009. So for each person to have many tons of gold, not many people 'round.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:12 AM on March 22, 2011


er, I meant figuratively tons.
posted by delmoi at 4:20 AM on March 22, 2011


If survival nuts really wanted to stock up useful, portable currency for when the excrement really hits the air conditioning they'd be better off stockpiling cigarettes, booze, condoms, candy and chocolate. Batteries. Matches. Hell, q-tips. Weed.

My money's going into heroin. There's gonna be a real big demand for strong painkillers when the zombie holocaust strikes.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:27 AM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


In related news: my local farmers' market was raided by swarms of federal agents because of their use of an alternate, wooden chip-based currency so that customers can use credit cards.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:47 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've said it before to howls of protest, but gold and silver and diamonds have no inherent value that makes them any different than granite and dirt other than that we collectively agree to value them more highly (subtracting the cost of mining/smelting, I suppose, which makes gold no more valuable than aluminum or tungsten). The day comes when people say, you know what, fuck that cheap ass gold shit, I'm valuing coal at $500 a gram, that's it for gold. The idea that there is some intrinsic property of gold other than its (relative) scarcity always perplexes me. So it's a good electrical conductor, and malleable. Neither property will do you much good in a world in which the highest value attaches to something you can actually eat (or shoot or burn). These survivalist types are imagining a post-apocalyptic world in which coin shops and assays are still functioning when everything else is gone. They're crazy.

Lots of things in the world are rare. Few of them are valuable. Scarcity alone does not create value. Utility does. Precious metals' utility is entirely a social construction if you aren't manufacturing electronic components.

Your gold ain't worth shit.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:54 AM on March 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


The real value of society is the knowledge of people who know how to build stuff. The only way society could collapse is all those people suddenly forgot everything, and all the books were lost.
The idea that society is fragile is just stupid.


And yet - the Library in Alexandria was burned to the ground
The Anasazi are no more. Same with Neanderthal society.

Episodes of Dr. Who - gone. FidoNet society. The society of plastic and Kro5hin - gone.

Perhaps you'd prefer a more "rocket science" version - the big old people moon shot rockets, I'm to understand the plans for them are no longer with mankind.

Some believe mankind was down to 50 or so females at one point - but the written records of that time are hard to get.

Just look at Europe after WWII. It didn't date long for the continent to bounce back despite an incredibly destructive war.

And there was cheap oil energy to bootstrap that event.

If the human society wacking event is a coronal mass ejection/EMP - how much will be 'lost' with a wide spread failure of the electrical-based infrastructure?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:56 AM on March 22, 2011


I've said it before to howls of protest, but gold and silver and diamonds have no inherent value that makes them any different than granite and dirt other than that we collectively agree to value them more highly

Funny how gold and silver conduct electricity just like granite and dirt in your world.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:00 AM on March 22, 2011


Funny how gold and silver conduct electricity just like granite and dirt in your world.

Wet dirt can conduct electricity.
posted by delmoi at 5:09 AM on March 22, 2011


Society: There will always be someone who wishes to be decorated or who wishes to decorate another. Gold is actually pretty, and it's malleable property makes it easy to work into ornamental designs. Once made, it doesn't corrode. See, that lack of corrosion is a real asset.

Regardless of the merits of hoarding gold for economic reasons, can we can the bullshit suggestions that gold is "useless"? It's really an amazing substance with many uses.
posted by Goofyy at 5:12 AM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wet dirt can conduct electricity.

Yuppers, just as well as silver or gold.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:13 AM on March 22, 2011


Eh, I don't really approve of what this man was doing. Many people can be fooled by coins like that, not that someone would use them that way given their price versus what they 'look' like they're worth. I mean really, he was essentially printing U.S. money, or what looks to be U.S. money. If anything seems prosecutable, that certainly does.
posted by Malice at 5:18 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yuppers, just as well as silver or gold.

Doesn't really justify the price difference. Copper conducts better then gold, and it's about 94% as efficient as silver.
posted by delmoi at 5:21 AM on March 22, 2011


Eh, I don't really approve of what this man was doing.

Trying to get standing in Federal Court to challenge the Federal Reserve Act via direct action? He didn't like a law and tried to effect change via the court system.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:22 AM on March 22, 2011


Trying to get standing in Federal Court to challenge the Federal Reserve Act via direct action? He didn't like a law and tried to effect change via the court system.
Well, he was arrested for breaking the law, not for suing to have the law overturned.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Copper conducts better then gold, and it's about 94% as efficient as silver.

And yet 6% difference can matter.

ALPHA-1 - silver as magnet parts

A 7% difference and a layer of glass separates you at a zoo.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:27 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


These days you could use a superconducting magnet, rather then one with silver coils. But most Uranium refinement is done with centrifuges anyway.
posted by delmoi at 5:30 AM on March 22, 2011


Trying to get standing in Federal Court to challenge the Federal Reserve Act via direct action? He didn't like a law and tried to effect change via the court system.

You're defending a scam artist because he tickles your particular soft spot. That's a recipe for success.
posted by yerfatma at 5:31 AM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


he was arrested for breaking the law

And when the 1st Liberty Dollars were minted - he (claims to have) had letters in hand from the US Mint saying 'its not illegal what you are doing

not for suing to have the law overturned.

And exactly how would one get standing to have the law overturned?

Look at the free marijuana church effort - a direct action calculated to bring about a court conflict on a matter he felt should not be illegal.

To bring up a challenge in court - someone's gotta be in a court case.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:33 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


And when the 1st Liberty Dollars were minted - he (claims to have) had letters in hand from the US Mint saying 'its not illegal what you are doing
Well, he obviously was breaking the law, seeing as how he was convicted. The Mint may not have known how much his coins mirrored US Currency.
posted by delmoi at 5:39 AM on March 22, 2011


You're defending a scam artist

The government was looking to charge him with fraud - and couldn't make it stick.

Go find and read the original NORFED purpose statements - it was to challenge the federal reserve system.

Somewhere between 1999 and the arrest a law was added to the books to make it a crime to do something that was to attempt to replace the FRN system. That new law has put a kink in a few local currency efforts.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:41 AM on March 22, 2011


The Mint may not have known how much his coins mirrored US Currency.

I'm guessing The Mint has staff who collect coins and Benard was known enough in Numismatic circles to be a keynote speaker at one of their trade shows to be aware of the coins and what they looked like.

(and mea culpa again - charge him with a form of fraud expressing financial sleight of hand like saying the vault has X in silver when it had Y)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:48 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm going to stock up on coaxial cable for the apocalypse, since apparently it's the ability to carry an electrical current that matters.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:50 AM on March 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure I see how these clauses imply that only the US government may issue gold and silver coin. Section 10 clearly refers to state actors. Section 8 grants powers to Congress, but they seem more exclusive to Congress relative to the rest of government.

Any time the Constitution empowers a particular branch of the government to do something, it's basically saying that the federal government has the power to do this, but it's branch X that is logistically responsible for it.

For example, it says that Congress has the power to tax. But you don't pay your taxes to Congress, you pay your taxes to the IRS, which is an executive agency. Why? Because Congress, in and of itself, can't actually do anything. Its power is almost solely in authorizing the other branches to do things, either by legislative decree or by authorizing the expenditure of money.

So when it says that Congress has the power to coin money, what it means is that this is a legitimate power of the federal government which happens to be vested in Congress, which has in turn authorized the Treasury to take care of things. It's done the same for just about everything, so when you see a federal agency doing whatever it is said agency does, what's really going on is that the agency is acting under the authority of Congress to implement relevant legislation.
posted by valkyryn at 6:02 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Go find and read the original NORFED purpose statements - it was to challenge the federal reserve system.

They are hardly going to write "to swindle a whole bunch of rednecks" in their purpose statement, are they?

You are still beating around the bush, ashlar. If their purpose was to "challenge" the federal reserve system, why were they so glad to accept in payment the currency of just that very same federal reserve system?

Ah, and I don't think for a moment that this guy's marijuana church was a strictly not-for-profit operation either. There's also quite some money to be made in that trade, after all.
posted by Skeptic at 6:20 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are hardly going to write "to swindle a whole bunch of rednecks" in their purpose statement, are they?

Why don't you explain "the swindle" then. Do note how each change in the business model was an enhancement in "the swindle". Be sure to note how when NORFED was removed as the founding legal group and Liberty Dollar was then owned by some new legal entity was all part of "the swindle".

You are still beating around the bush, ashlar. If their purpose was to "challenge" the federal reserve system, why were they so glad to accept in payment the currency of just that very same federal reserve system?

I believe at one time they offered up if you brought in fine silver they'd re-cast and mint you Liberty Dollars - less some silver to cover costs.

Ah, and I don't think for a moment that this guy's marijuana church was a strictly not-for-profit operation either.

Would this be the part where you came into the church, got handed a joint for $0 and smoked it and THEN were asked to sit around and think about what you had done?

Or perhaps how, as far as I know, it was nothing more than a press release and web site. I've not heard of any conformation about people actually taking a toke.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:35 AM on March 22, 2011


Hershey bars used to be a nickel. I suppose if I'd buried a bunch of them, they'd appreciate in value.

Norfed sounds a bit like a warehouse bank operation, in addition to the rest of the foolishness.
posted by warbaby at 6:36 AM on March 22, 2011


Norfed sounds a bit like a warehouse bank operation,

All depends on what your source of data is I guess.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:44 AM on March 22, 2011


Precious-metal based currencies are just as subject to changes in value as fiat-currencies when the supply of the metal fluctuates - and it does fluctuate. Massive imports of gold and silver from the New World caused disruptive inflation all over Europe in the sixteenth century. In China, a lack of silver in the early nineteenth century led to a destructive imbalance between the value of copper (what people were paid in) and silver (what they had to pay taxes in).

Every currency is subject to inflation, or deflation - gold-based, silver-based, kumquat-based. The advantage of fiat-currency is the ability of the government to control the supply more directly, and create more money as the economy grows.

The US went off gold because its currency was being used all over the world, and it couldn't produce enough money to supply these needs while it was backed on gold - there wasn't enough gold in the world. It's complicated, but eventually speculators were simply bleeding gold out of the US by buying it at the guarenteed exchange rate the government was obliged to provide, and then selling it in London for a profit.
posted by jb at 6:46 AM on March 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


The advantage of fiat-currency is the ability of the government to control the supply more directly,

And nothing more direct than having a Corporation owned by a bunch of banks so big they can't be allowed to fail being in charge of that money supply.

Cuz large Corporations are our friends and would never, ever screw up.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:50 AM on March 22, 2011


I love the idea of this effete survivalist trying to get by after a massive disaster:

"Sir, sir, please hear me out. These are only the finest Fabergé eggs, diamond tiaras, and canned cavier! Before the collapse the value of these items was well over 20,000 dollars. Surely, you can barter with them!"

"Look asshole, bread, rice, grass, or ass. That's all I'm buying."

"Surely you jest! Look at the quality of this Afghan rug or this rare Baroque period cassone!"
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:05 AM on March 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


So...google Ron Paul?
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:07 AM on March 22, 2011


I believe at one time they offered up if you brought in fine silver they'd re-cast and mint you Liberty Dollars - less some silver to cover costs.

When? For how long? How much of a cut did they get? What was the point of bringing them your silver to make those coins?

You are still avoiding the issue: even if NORFED occasionally did that, what it mostly did was to get rid of silver coins in exchange of "worthless fiat currency". That's in fact quite a vote of confidence in the federal reserve system.

Cuz large Corporations are our friends and would never, ever screw up.

Just because large corporations can be thieving bastards does not mean that small freelancers can't be any less dishonest.
posted by Skeptic at 7:07 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is why I have all my liquid assets in Ameros
posted by briank at 7:09 AM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Face values on 1 ounce silver Liberty Dollars were as low as $10.

What exactly is the point of taking bullion, printing Ron Paul's face on it, marking face value over the melt price, and selling it for face value? Other than making profits for the person selling the coins? Precious metals are already traded at their actual value everywhere around the world, so it's not as if there was no reasonable way for someone to buy silver and keep it locked up in a safe somewhere. This isn't some sort of revolutionary new alternative to cash, it's just the Franklin Mint with a libertarian spin.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:12 AM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Main Entry: trea·son
Pronunciation: \ˈtrē-zən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English tresoun, from Anglo-French traisun, from Latin tradition-, traditio act of handing over, from tradere to hand over, betray — more at traitor
Date: 13th century
1 : the betrayal of a trust : treachery
2 : the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family
posted by newdaddy at 7:42 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Precious metals are already traded at their actual value everywhere around the world, so it's not as if there was no reasonable way for someone to buy silver and keep it locked up in a safe somewhere.
Exactly. There's nothing wrong with buying gold but these people aren't really adding any value.

If you define a scam as taking money in exchange for nothing, while at the same time implying or promising some value, this is definitely a scam. The only thing he was doing that 'challenged' the fed was issuing paper money, which is way more scammy.

Anyway the call from people like Ron Paul who say people who should be able to print their own money has never made any sense: Anyone can print their own money already, there's no law against it. Think of a casino chip, or a walmart gift card, or whatever. Those things have the properties of a currency. No one is stopping you from doing it.

Anyway, I wonder what's up with the huge spike in silver value lately. Check out this chart of the price since 2009. It's up 250%, compared to 68% for silver.
posted by delmoi at 7:42 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


A few of you have called this "fraud" based on his selling these coins for a permium over the cost of their silver content...

Can you explain how that makes this "fraud" any more than the "Franklin Mint in partnership with the government of Bermuda" issuing five "dollar" 1oz silver coins - For an even greater premium over the cost of the metal?


delmoi : Anyway, I wonder what's up with the huge spike in silver value lately.

Simple - A whole lot of people worrying about the stability of the global economy have chosen to try to protect their assets by hoarding a bunch of worthless lumps of metal. ;)
posted by pla at 7:44 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


What exactly is the point of taking bullion, printing Ron Paul's face on it, marking face value over the melt price, and selling it for face value?

So right-wing weiners can trade them around for ham radio parts and guns, just like the left-wing weiners in my town want to trade them around for organic produce and hand-knit baby slings. It's all just meaningless signalling to show you're part of an identity group.
posted by electroboy at 7:47 AM on March 22, 2011


Can you explain how that makes this "fraud" any more than the "Franklin Mint in partnership with the government of Bermuda" issuing five "dollar" 1oz silver coins - For an even greater premium over the cost of the metal?

I'm not completely certain, but I doubt the Franklin Mint is encouraging you to use the coins they sell as legal tender.
posted by hippybear at 7:51 AM on March 22, 2011


Can I suggest that the act of undermining the currency of our nation is, in effect, a form of treason? If you don't like federal monetary policy (and I don't; there is apparently no incentive at all to save anymore) write your congressperson, or elect more Pauls. But pretty much every American I know gets their paycheck in U.S. Dollars, and we don't appreciate you're taking a swipe at their value just to play at your little Gamma World fantasy.
posted by newdaddy at 7:52 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


What exactly is the point of marking face value over the melt price, and selling it for face value?

Perhaps you should ask that of the "experts" in this thread who "understand" "The Swindle" or who have web pages about NORFED?

That's in fact quite a vote of confidence in the federal reserve system.

Not everyone has a store that accepts silver with an extensive stock.
(now only on line - local store closed. Only has 5 items. )

And if the goal was to get into court - exactly how was getting coins into peoples hands supposed to have happened and NOT involve the federal reserve system?

Your line is sounding like "don't like air pollution - then don't breath the air".

it's just the Franklin Mint with a libertarian spin.

Less expensive as I remember. I believe they were less expensive than the US Mint's .999 fine silver products also.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:55 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


just like the left-wing weiners in my town want to trade them around for organic produce and hand-knit baby slings

I think there's a world of difference between a local currency, designed to keep money flowing within a given community and not siphoned off by large corporations, and something like the Liberty Dollar, which was supposedly national and seems to have been created with the hope of supplanting the actual Federal monetary system.

I think local currencies are great on a lot of levels.
posted by hippybear at 7:55 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


But pretty much every American I know gets their paycheck in U.S. Dollars,

Are you sure about that? Here I was under the impression that payments were in some form of Federal Reserve Notes.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:00 AM on March 22, 2011


Face values on 1 ounce silver Liberty Dollars were as low as $10.

Having spent as much to have some silver rolled into a 20 gauge sheet than the silver was worth, I have to ask, what ounce were they talking about here? The one that my quarter pounder weighs three of before cooking or four? What alloy of silver - fine, sterling or coin?

Because, hey, I'll sell you 14K gold casting shot for less per ounce than Standard and Poor say gold is currently worth. Don't think too hard about that ounce of silver I buy for every 2 ounces of casting shot you order.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:03 AM on March 22, 2011


which was supposedly national and seems to have been created with the hope of supplanting the actual Federal monetary system.

They did ship 'em nationwide (and I never saw one used - only saw 'em when someone was showing 'em off at a local currency meeting) and NORFED was an acronym for National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code

I think someone shopped 'em 'round with the PEACE and STOP THE WAR message to the local lefties.

(oh, forgot about the IRS part)
posted by rough ashlar at 8:09 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


what ounce were they talking about here?

They were .999 fine one troy ounce medallions.

http://www.ioffer.com/i/1999-10-norfed-liberty-dollar-silver-bullion-1-toz-147321089 - an example of one of 'em.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:18 AM on March 22, 2011


I recently saw and advertisement for "enhanced" $2 bills with national park scenes painted on them selling for $10 plus another $10 for shipping and handling. So weird.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think there's a world of difference between a local currency, designed to keep money flowing within a given community and not siphoned off by large corporations

Theoretically there may be, but I don't see the mechanism by which a local currency is going to do that. If your goal is to keep people shopping locally, you can do that without printing expensive notes.
posted by electroboy at 8:33 AM on March 22, 2011


I don't see the mechanism by which a local currency is going to do that.

You can't spend them anywhere except locally. So once you've accepted SpringfieldBux, you can't drive over to North Haverbrook and spend them on monorail tickets, pocket onions, or rootmarm.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:36 AM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Burhanistan: I think that's a scam run by the people who did those "Obama quarters" around the 2008 election... Basically US currency with printed plastic overlay stickers stuck on them. I remember reading about a lot of pissed off people once those quarters finally started reaching customers.
posted by hippybear at 8:37 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see the mechanism by which a local currency is going to do that.

In theory by not being able to be spent with the large corporations.

In practice Wal-mart
posted by rough ashlar at 8:37 AM on March 22, 2011


Perhaps you should ask that of the "experts" in this thread who "understand" "The Swindle" or who have web pages about NORFED?

Now I'm convinced.
posted by yerfatma at 8:40 AM on March 22, 2011


A few of you have called this "fraud" based on his selling these coins for a permium over the cost of their silver content...Can you explain how that makes this "fraud" any more than the "Franklin Mint in partnership with the government of Bermuda" issuing five "dollar" 1oz silver coins - For an even greater premium over the cost of the metal?

I think the Franklin Mint et. al. are manufacturing things expressly for the purpose of being "collectors' items", which are never intended for use like normal currency.

Although, my own beef with such things is that they are way-ass tacky. (I'm seeing a whole raft of "commemorative coins using silver reclaimed from the World Trade Center on 9/11 -- act now" types of ads these days and they piss me right the hell off.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not gonna put any effort into this debate because it's work time but this guy was a scammer or at least a bit of a loon.
"Your gold ain't worth shit."
No, I have 2 Krugerrands that I paid $400 and change for, they are now worth $1400 and change. You can say what you want but it is just words, reality is reality.
posted by Iron Rat at 8:43 AM on March 22, 2011


Now I'm convinced.

Good thing, now you don't have to spend hours with search engines to figure out the 3+ versions of business model which was used or go look at the filings in the court case.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:44 AM on March 22, 2011


So once you've accepted SpringfieldBux, you can't drive over to North Haverbrook and spend them on monorail tickets, pocket onions, or rootmarm.

Right, but it's still a really inefficient way of getting people, who are already inclined to do so, to shop locally. Someone has to bear the cost of printing the notes and setting up the exchanges. And given that you're exchanging dollars for certificates, this strikes me as more of a pre-payment plan than anything else.
posted by electroboy at 8:45 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I'm seeing a whole raft of "commemorative coins using silver reclaimed from the World Trade Center on 9/11

I saw one of those commercials a few years ago. When they showed how the WTC actually popped up from the coin I almost shot my television.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


just like the left-wing weiners in my town want to trade them around for organic produce and hand-knit baby slings.

I'm really disappointed that these don't have Michael Moore's face on them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:56 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, I have 2 Krugerrands that I paid $400 and change for, they are now worth $1400 and change.

Remember when we used to play this game with property values? But at least I can live in my house...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:58 AM on March 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


but this guy was a scammer or at least a bit of a loon.

I keep hearing the scammer part - but I've not heard why beyond:
1) Trying to change a law (ok 2 with the IRS)
2) Charging over spot for a metal
3) Claims of a MLM setup (and there was that model for a few of the 'here is the new business plan' versions)

Now the VALID claim about his ethics would be how "These are always to be called medallion, Not a coin. Point out this is barter" and then in videos about getting the Liberty Dollar accepted (Do the drop was it?) that is not what was done. But hey, if there are others - lets see the claims be made. Because every day most businesses are charging more for their products than what it cost 'em to get material or the material is worth. Plenty of MLM's and even more that offer kickbacks for referrals. So what makes BvNH "a scammer" in this case?

And wanting to see weed made legal and saying one would take a public direct action - or even setting up a firm who's goal was to stick a finger in the eye of the Federal Government. Does that make one a loon if one publicly challenges operating government policy?
posted by rough ashlar at 8:59 AM on March 22, 2011


I am not gonna put any effort into this debate because it's work time but this guy was a scammer or at least a bit of a loon.
"Your gold ain't worth shit."
No, I have 2 Krugerrands that I paid $400 and change for, they are now worth $1400 and change. You can say what you want but it is just words, reality is reality.


That is, in fact, the point. Your Krugerrands are worth this many dollars because we as a society have decided, by fiat, that gold is worth this many dollars per ounce. There is no inherent practical quality of gold that lends itself to this valuation, it's just shiny and uncommon so we say it's really valuable.

Your Krugerrands are also worth dollars, in a stable economy in a stable country. These precious metal currencies are being billed as retaining value after economic and societal collapse, where paper money has lost its value because the issuing government no longer exists. In that kind of environment, your Krugerrands are not worth $1400 anymore - they're probably worth $∞, thanks to a divide by zero - but instead are simply worth "Two Krugerrands". The scam is suggesting that in such a crisis, two Krugerrands will have the buying power that $1400 has now, because gold has some inherent value that carries through into crisis. Every catastrophic warzone we've seen in history, that has not held true - your gold only helps you if you can get it out of the crisis zone, into a stable place where you can spend it. And in this day and age, if you're banking on the United States collapsing? There's not gonna be a stable place to turn your gold into value.
posted by kafziel at 9:02 AM on March 22, 2011 [17 favorites]


I'm really disappointed that these don't have Michael Moore's face on them.

If you are really sad about it, I believe the AOCS will press up whatever you want....$2000 for the die cost and $2-$3 for putting that on the silver.* George Bush and Crazy Horse made it on metal disks - why not Mr. Moore?

*silver not included. Mileage may vary.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:03 AM on March 22, 2011


One could say that Krugerrands aren't worth anything as they are, because you can't actually spend them to get anything. You can exchange them for money which you can then use, but as they are, they're mostly worth being shiny little yellow objects which look nice.
posted by hippybear at 9:04 AM on March 22, 2011


if you're banking on the United States collapsing? There's not gonna be a stable place to turn your gold into value.

Needs repeating.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:05 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


One could say that Krugerrands aren't worth anything as they are, because you can't actually spend them to get anything.

I got a car I'd allow someone to spend 'em for. Would make a nice story about why I'm walking.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:06 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, I have 2 Krugerrands that I paid $400 and change for, they are now worth $1400 and change.

Congratulations. You probably should sell them, and enjoy your profit before the gold bubble bursts.
posted by jb at 9:16 AM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Every currency is subject to inflation, or deflation - gold-based, silver-based, kumquat-based.

There's the (perhaps apocryphal) story of the early days of the Republic when the foundling fathers attempted a kumquat-based economy. The experiment only lasted one month.
Surely you've all heard of "Kumquat May."
posted by Floydd at 9:17 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


That is, in fact, the point. Your Krugerrands are worth this many dollars because we as a society have decided, by fiat, that gold is worth this many dollars per ounce.

From what I've learned from my crazy hoarding grandfather is that most gold medallions/coins/rounds/wtfever are priced by melt value, i.e. the amount the underlying metal is worth when melted and sold in an open market. Hence the price jump from 400 to 1400 (and impending price jump back to 400). It's technically illegal to melt US coins, but people trade as if it weren't, since the laws may change or you can melt coin in some other jurisdiction.

So we haven't made Krugerrands a fiat currency. Far from it.
posted by pwnguin at 9:24 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You probably should sell them, and enjoy your profit before the gold bubble bursts.

Which could be quite soon, as it happens. From the BBC News Libya live newsfeed:

"#1611: It has emerged Libya has substantial gold reserves, reports the BBC's Andrew Walker. They are worth more than $6bn at current prices, which puts Libya among the top 25 countries in terms of gold reserves. Libya is restricted in how it can use its overseas assets, but most Libyan gold is held inside the country and could generate millions of dollars in revenue for Col Gaddafi."
posted by Skeptic at 9:31 AM on March 22, 2011


Put a gold brick and a loaf of bread in front of any relatively sane, hungry person on the go in a time of collapse or upheaval and they're going to take the loaf of bread.

Not necessarily. According to the CBC's Anatomy of a refugee camp: "Aid workers try to give the food to women instead of men. Workers find the food is more likely to get to older people and children that way because women are the ones who cook the food. Men are more likely to sell the rations for money to buy something else."
posted by bentley at 9:35 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


For those convinced of the abiding value of their stored metal specie in the case of massive social upheaval or collapse, it might be prudent to look at examples from history.

In the case of England in the 5th and 6th century, after the Western Empire had receded, we see a period in which the supply of money drops dramatically. New coins stop being struck, older Roman coins are less and less evident in the archaeological record, and only in rare cases are contemporary imported (primarily Byzantine) coins found. Coins that are found in the record are often set as jewelry (now many of these coins are found as grave goods, so questions of exchange vs. decorative vs. ceremonial value are valid). However, it is evident that with the collapse of a large-scale political system, and the trade networks that accompanied it, coinage becomes less and less useful. Essentially, the money stops working. Coins may have retained some utility in what limited international trade still occurred, or as markers of status. Some may have been melted down and made into jewelry. For the most part, though, it seems that media of exchange reverted back to things with much more immediate use value (ie. barter).

It is not until the Anglo-Saxon stability of the 7th century that we see new coinage (the silver penny) come into wider use.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:42 AM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


So these plates I bought at the Franklin Mint aren't specie?
posted by maxwelton at 9:42 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


pwnguin, I think that's just a rumor. As far as I know, there's nothing illegal about melting coins. From the US Mint's website:

1. Is it illegal to damage or deface coins?

Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States. This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent.

As long as you're not melting them to fraudulently pass them off as something else (say trying to melt pennies into the shape of a silver dollar), you're fine. Other countries (I think Canada is one of them) have laws against altering their currency though.
posted by Crash at 9:45 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


So we haven't made Krugerrands a fiat currency. Far from it.

I believe kafziel's point was that gold valuation is mainly dependent on what the market decides gold is worth, rather than some inherent quality of gold. And with the amount of speculation involved with gold (which is what you are doing if you're holding gold expecting it to appreciate in value rather than using it for something), it's much less like a normal commodity that is mainly affected by supply and non-speculative demand. Using gold as a hedge against dollar inflation is really no different than general forex trading shenanigans.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:46 AM on March 22, 2011


pwnguin, I think that's just a rumor.

Looking in the wrong place. Its to address the metal value of copper in coins.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:47 AM on March 22, 2011


I'll just put this stack of Liberty Dollars down here in the bomb shelter, next to th' home-schoolin' videocassettes, th' hollow-points for the AK-47, the Texas Secession Movement fliers, and the cans of pork-n-beans. My liberty is secure!

I guess what I really want is for someone who actually owns Liberty Dollars to articulate the specific scenario they are envisioning that would make them necessary. Because I'm betting that the quality of such fantasies, when spoken allowed, would be ridiculous enough as to render a lot of this legal hand-wringing unnecessary.
posted by newdaddy at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, it isn't that complicated.

The one true resource is the labor of humans. This resource grows, but slowly, as people are born, educated, and trained.

The point of precious metals is that the supply of them grows too, but slowly as well, as metals are extracted and refined.

The game is to keep the two resource pools growing at approximately the same rate. The problem with dollars is that their quantity is growing faster than the amount of value (work by humans) that can be purchased with it.
posted by effugas at 9:51 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as I know, there's nothing illegal about melting coins.

If there is, there are silver studios all over the country regularly breaking the law, then. Because I've worked at two smithing studios, and we'd regularly melt legacy US silver currency coins as part of the casting process at both of them. And I've talked to other metalsmiths who have done the same thing with impunity.
posted by hippybear at 9:51 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aloud, I meant.
posted by newdaddy at 9:52 AM on March 22, 2011


In related news: my local farmers' market was raided by swarms of federal agents because of their use of an alternate, wooden chip-based currency so that customers can use credit cards.

Shit my farmer's market does that. Can you give us more detail? Maybe a link to a news article?
posted by clarknova at 10:01 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The game is to keep the two resource pools growing at approximately the same rate.

And how's that game being played by the Fed these days?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:01 AM on March 22, 2011


The US Mint on Melting Pennies
posted by endless_forms at 10:03 AM on March 22, 2011


The game is to keep the two resource pools growing at approximately the same rate.

Demand also has to be constant.

One fo the factors possibly driving the gold market in the long term is increased demand for gold from south-east Asia and China as the populations there have more disposible income. Demand for gold as a luxury good goes higher. Prices rise everywhere (see also wine and whisky prices).

Looking at the use breakdown for gold is interesting though: industrial is about 10%, luxury goods are about 60% and "investment" is about 30%. That's an amazing surplus for speculation.
posted by bonehead at 10:04 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gold's utility (other than as jewelry or in electronics) is as a good substance that can function as money.

What are the qualities of good money material?

Silver has many of these qualities but tarnishes. Platinum and palladium have similar qualities but are much rarer.

So to some extent gold's inherent value derives from its being a near-ideal substance to function as money.

Paper or electronic money when difficult to counterfeit have many of these properties so long as users continue to believe it will be accepted for real goods/services. It does have the character of not having an inherent limitation on its supply, unlike precious metals.
posted by kevinsp8 at 10:09 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


They were .999 fine one troy ounce medallions

Lousy coinage, then. There's a real reason that US silver coinage was predominately 90% silver and 10% copper.

US Bullion silver coinage is .999 fine, but the stated value on the coin ($1 USD) was intentionally much lower than the metal in the coin. Thus, these coins don't circulate much, and don't need the wear resistance.
posted by eriko at 10:24 AM on March 22, 2011


effugas: The one true resource is the labor of humans. This resource grows, but slowly, as people are born, educated, and trained.

In recent times, this has not grown slowly, it has ballooned madly. The world population has increased greatly, educational standards have gone way up, and technology has increased productivity drastically. There was no way the world supply of gold could have possibly kept up, not unless we learned to cheaply synthesize it or something.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:37 AM on March 22, 2011


No, I have 2 Krugerrands that I paid $400 and change for, they are now worth $1400 and change.

If only you'd bought stock in Apple computer instead. Last time hold was at those levels apple was $8/share. So you could have bought close to 50 shares. You'd have about $16,000 instead. You could also have purchased your Kuggerands in the late 70s and waited 25 years to get the value back out of it.
posted by humanfont at 10:40 AM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


In recent times, this has not grown slowly, it has ballooned madly. The world population has increased greatly, educational standards have gone way up, and technology has increased productivity drastically. There was no way the world supply of gold could have possibly kept up, not unless we learned to cheaply synthesize it or something.

Repeated for truth. The strength of a fiat currency, over a precious metal, is when the amount of human resources does explode it's possible to push out more currency to represent the growth of the pool.

The problem of course is that it's now possible to push more currency in absence of growth.
posted by effugas at 10:51 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Three thousand or so new tons of gold extracted a year

After the apocalypse, we'll get the survivors working the gold mines to keep up production levels.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 AM on March 22, 2011


There was no way the world supply of gold could have possibly kept up, not unless we learned to cheaply synthesize it or something.

I believe what happens is the same amount of gold buys more. I am unaware of a generally accepted law of economics that specifies the amount of currency and total amount of all goods and services must rise in tandem.
posted by kevinsp8 at 11:38 AM on March 22, 2011


Deflation is generally considered a bad thing by most economists. If you best investment vehicle is a chest and a map, the best way to increase the value of you money is to not use it, then that tends to shut down investment. Businesses can't get startup or reinvestment capital, people can't get morgages, etc....
posted by bonehead at 12:06 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Society collapses. You have far more than enough food and ammunition. A neighbor knocks on your door and wants to trade with you for some food. Assuming you don't just shoot him and raid his newly undefended house, do you...
A) Take now-worthless US dollars,
B) Take nothing, allowing a parasite to drain your own stored resources, or
C) Take precious metals which have historically maintained their value through precisely such situations?


You forgot other options, obviously.

D) Take nothing, and work together and form a new tribe/society.
E) Take nothing, and now having someone who could watch your paranoid back

Just funny how you assumed they are a "parasite" or that you can shoot them. This is why i don't believe "survivalists" will truly last after any serious collapse. They will be hiding out, fearful of others, or looking to harm them, while every sane person will be working together to rebuild, like every single lasting group of people did in history.
posted by usagizero at 12:10 PM on March 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


OK, it isn't that complicated. The one true resource is the labor of humans. This resource grows, but slowly, as people are born, educated, and trained. The point of precious metals is that the supply of them grows too, but slowly as well, as metals are extracted and refined. The game is to keep the two resource pools growing at approximately the same rate. The problem with dollars is that their quantity is growing faster than the amount of value (work by humans) that can be purchased with it.

Ok that sounds all well and good (assuming that we accept the premise, which I will do for the sake of argument), but the hidden assumption there is that the supply and demand of the precious metals grows at approximately the same rate as the supply and demand for the general "labor of humans." This would make a lot of sense if gold farming worked like it does in video games where one hour of effort always produces X units of gold and getting Y people to work for an hour produces XY units of gold, but that's not how the real world works.

On the supply side, I can spend all day digging up the floor of my office, but I'll just get fired as a result, and I'm sure as heck not going to find any gold unless there's a secret bullion depository downstairs. Lots of labor, but no return. Someone else might get lucky and wind up finding enormous amounts of gold with very little effort. Or gold mines or shipments could be shut down due to a war. This is what jb was talking about here. Tomorrow, someone could invent a new drill or processing technique that can extract twice the gold in half the time. Alchemists have been trying to make their own gold for a long time, but the chemical synthesis of precious metals is certainly conceivable at some point in the future. We're pretty much to the point where we can make our own diamonds. The supply of precious metals doesn't grow linearly, it fluctuates depending on where people find it, how hard it is to extract and refine, and how worthwhile it is for someone to dig it up (demand).

On the demand side, it's the same problem. The majority of gold is used for jewellery. While gold jewellery is more timeless than other trends, do you really want to fix your world currency system to the fashion industry? Demand for gold could rise if new industrial uses are found. Just look at what happened to silicon prices in the early 2000s as solar panels started to take off, and silicon the second most abundant element in the earth's crust. Most of the gold that isn't used for jewellery is held for investment purposes, but what happens when investors think they've found a better bet with another investment product? Gold prices drop, even though there's been no change in the labor market at all.

With the money supply, we at least have some levers the Fed can use to attempt to match the supply of dollars in circulation to the total value of economic production. With gold, the supply is basically beholden to the circumstances of extracting one particular natural resource and has nothing to do with any other economic activity. Microsoft has created enormous amounts of economic value since its inception, but it has not been a material factor in the world's production of gold. Gold, just like US Dollars, is a purely arbitrary token to use as a unit of exchange, but the supply and demand for gold is subject to a whole lot of completely random factors.
posted by zachlipton at 12:13 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Deflation is generally considered a bad thing by most economists.

True. And it would seem that both inflation and deflation create different winners and losers. Here's a study (.pdf) which claims that historical examples of deflation haven't usually correlated with depression.

I'm not claiming that deflation is desirable, just that gold doesn't need to 'keep up' with an increased amount of people/goods/services in order to continue functioning as money.
posted by kevinsp8 at 12:21 PM on March 22, 2011


Society collapses. You have far more than enough food and ammunition. A neighbor knocks on your door and wants to trade with you for some food. Assuming you don't just shoot him and raid his newly undefended house, do you...
A) Take now-worthless US dollars,
B) Take nothing, allowing a parasite to drain your own stored resources, or
C) Take precious metals which have historically maintained their value through precisely such situations?

You forgot other options, obviously.

D) Take nothing, and work together and form a new tribe/society.
E) Take nothing, and now having someone who could watch your paranoid back


Why are my only options to take something that is worthless, take nothing at all, or take some metal that cannot help me feed and shelter my family? You also forgot:
F) Take something useful he's got and give him something useful that you have in exchange. Food for firewood or warm clothing perhaps?
G) Add your flour and sugar to his eggs and butter and take them to a third neighbor who has a gas powered griddle and some syrup and you all make post-apocalyptic pancakes as you watch the end of the universe together.
posted by zachlipton at 12:21 PM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's like a lot of people in this thread never even read Web of Spider-Man #6.
posted by Shepherd at 12:34 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well I foolishly said I wasn't gonna debate this but it is my lunch break so,

PeterMcDermott, That was a good one and a valid point but all it means is diversify your investments. Gold rates fairly low after home and business ownership, money in the bank, paid for cars, paid off cards.

humanfont, That is a poor argument, it is based on using the knowledge you have now to pick a stock in the past. If I were to use the knowledge that I have now to pick a stock at this moment I doubt I would do well.

kafziel, I am not really planning on total societal collapse, or zombie apocalypse and arguments against gold ownership as an investment that bank on this happening are as bad as arguments for gold that make the same assumption. I do not think that we really are disagreeing on much but you are a better writer and I have two gold coins.
posted by Iron Rat at 1:12 PM on March 22, 2011


What people also tend to overlook is that one of the main reasons why gold and silver were historically used as currency is that, far from having an "intrinsic value", they never were useful for much else. Humble copper, on the other hand, although long-used for low-denomination coinage, was never thought of as currency on its own, not so much because it was relatively plentiful, but because it had many more useful applications than as a currency. And indeed, the electronic age, with its exploding industrial demand for copper, has pretty much killed off its use in coinage. (Incidentally, all those who gloat about how much their gold and silver have appreciated in value ought to consider what they'd have earned if they had invested in copper instead...)
posted by Skeptic at 1:35 PM on March 22, 2011


humanfont, That is a poor argument, it is based on using the knowledge you have now to pick a stock in the past. If I were to use the knowledge that I have now to pick a stock at this moment I doubt I would do well.

My point is that gold is just one of many investment options. It is volatile and comes with no real gaurantees, in hindsight of the last few years it looks great but the so does Apple.
posted by humanfont at 1:42 PM on March 22, 2011


humanfont, That is a poor argument, it is based on using the knowledge you have now to pick a stock in the past. If I were to use the knowledge that I have now to pick a stock at this moment I doubt I would do well.

But gold is basically a stock, except that instead of getting a piece of paper saying you own part of a company, you get a chunk of shiny metal, or more conveniently, a piece of paper saying you own a chunk of shiny metal. It's still an investment in Whether it's gold or a share of Apple, the amount of other goods that you can get in exchange when you sell it is completely dependent on the supply and demand of gold or Apple stock. Gold is a comparatively safe investment, but when you're choosing to invest in gold, it's the exact same process as picking any other investment with the possibilities of risks and rewards.
posted by zachlipton at 2:03 PM on March 22, 2011


usagizero : Just funny how you assumed they are a "parasite" or that you can shoot them.

Yup, I did, for one key reason - I said they came a' knockin', not the other way around.

Obviously, the response to a disaster depends on scale. If talking about a few weeks of moderate inconvenience, then no, I won't start answering the door with a shotgun pointed at your head (and in fact, you might suddenly consider me your new best friend, if for no more noble reason than preferring it to going hungry for a month). If talking about a short-term-irreversible collapse of civilization, then your single greatest danger doesn't come from Captain Trips or the asteroid, it comes from your two-legged cohabitants of the top of the food chain.


This is why i don't believe "survivalists" will truly last after any serious collapse.

I can wait out your efforts to rebuild society, to the more-or-less natural end of my life if necessary. Can you live a month with nothing potable coming out of the tap?
posted by pla at 3:41 PM on March 22, 2011


Yes, macho posturing about how ready you are for the collapse of society is just what we need here.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:06 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


CHAPPY: Well, I'm not panicking. You wanna know why? Because Chappy takes care of Chappy. Want a piece of corn bread? Make it myself with no electric tools.
HANK: Must be the elbow grease that makes it taste so good, huh?
CHAPPY: That or the lard. Render it myself.
HANK: You're like a pioneer, Chappy.
CHAPPY: I live in a shack, I poop in an outhouse, I eat what I kill. Let the grid go down, Lord. I don't need it.
HANK: Uh... there isn't a Mrs. Chappy, is there, Chappy?
posted by kafziel at 4:29 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


zachlipton : You forgot other options, obviously.

Well, yes and no...


D) Take nothing, and work together and form a new tribe/society.
E) Take nothing, and now having someone who could watch your paranoid back


This depends on what you have to offer... And not-really-ironically, that pretty much means you have mastered some set of skills considered almost completely useless in "modern" civilization.

Can you smelt limonite (can you identify limonite) into plow-blades? Can you make (without ordering two out of three ingredients off the internet) gunpowder? Can you deliver an ox calf and keep it alive long enough to pull the aforementioned plow? Can you grow a protein-balanced set of crops that will last through the winter? Can you identify poppies and extract opium from them so you don't have to watch your loved ones die in agony in the absence of modern medical care? Can you take a deer (or at least a rabbit) without a firearm?

Yeah, so can I, but consider your application "accepted" if you can also help weed and chop firewood. ;)


Burhanistan : Yes, macho posturing about how ready you are for the collapse of society is just what we need here.

I sincerely hope I die never having needed any of the above "useless" skills.

Sadly, I sincerely believe "the end" will come within my lifetime... And if not an outright "end of the world" scenario, at least the economic collapse of the US and possible the world. Quick hypothetical - Even excluding"peak oil" scenarios, if OPEC simply decided to stop shipping us oil one day, what would you do? Yeah, we'd probably go into all-or-nothing war mode to resume the flow, but that would take months or years.

This describes it pretty well. Put simply, you would most likely die within a few weeks.

Funny how, in our response to the Jasmine Revolution, we've said "good Tunisians, good Egyptians, Good Libyans, BAD SAUDIS, obey your king! Did you even know that Saudi police opened fire on a crowd of protesters last week? Strange, but the mass media seems to have not mentioned it all that much; hmm, wonder why?
posted by pla at 4:36 PM on March 22, 2011


> Did you even know that Saudi police opened fire on a crowd of protesters last week?

Gee, I had no idea. Thanks for sharing. And, no one is calling your "skills" useless, but what you are doing here is. Plenty of people, self included, have emergency supplies, guns, etc. But to just go around broadcasting that is indeed macho posturing. Then you just start to go off in all directions in a thread that isn't about those things. But enjoy reading your comments, because no one else does.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:46 PM on March 22, 2011


Did you even know that Saudi police opened fire on a crowd of protesters last week? Strange, but the mass media seems to have not mentioned it all that much; hmm, wonder why?

You're right. It was only covered by the New York Times, Bloomberg, UPI, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Insider, Sky News... amongst a sea of others.

No coverage from the mass media at all.
posted by hippybear at 4:49 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obviously, the response to a disaster depends on scale. If talking about a few weeks of moderate inconvenience, then no, I won't start answering the door with a shotgun pointed at your head (and in fact, you might suddenly consider me your new best friend, if for no more noble reason than preferring it to going hungry for a month). If talking about a short-term-irreversible collapse of civilization, then your single greatest danger doesn't come from Captain Trips or the asteroid, it comes from your two-legged cohabitants of the top of the food chain.


Let's look at Haiti and Somolia and Afghanista as examples of significant collapse. The greatest danger is not in fact from your fellow two legged inhabitants. It is from pathogens the become epidemic as a result of a breakdown of clean water and sanitation. Guys answering the door with a shotgun end up being killed because they are too dangerous and their anti social behavior makes them a target.


I can wait out your efforts to rebuild society, to the more-or-less natural end of my life if necessary. Can you live a month with nothing potable coming out of the tap?


Your worried about the wrong end of the pipe.
posted by humanfont at 4:51 PM on March 22, 2011


I sincerely hope I die never having needed any of the above "useless" skills.

You know, like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.
posted by kersplunk at 4:53 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


hippybear : You're right. It was only covered by the New York Times, Bloomberg, UPI, Fox News, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Insider, Sky News... amongst a sea of others. No coverage from the mass media at all.

Now compare that to coverage of Libya, an insignificant 3rd world 2%-er OPEC country. You can't escape coverage of the evils of Regan's Missed Opportunity.


Burhanistan : Then you just start to go off in all directions in a thread that isn't about those things.

Off-topic? Perhaps you can explain why this guy thought we needed an alternative to fiat currency in the first place, enough to risk his freedom over? Perhaps he just meant it as a money-making scam - Consider me humbled if he ever admits that. But while Bernanke runs flat-out trying to bankrupt the US, some of us see a problem or three looming on the horizon.
posted by pla at 5:04 PM on March 22, 2011


It's like a lot of people in this thread never even read Web of Spider-Man #6.

Or Terry Pratchett's 'Making Money'. It has a gold-obsessed character. Not very pleasant
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:08 PM on March 22, 2011


Sadly, I sincerely believe "the end" will come within my lifetime... And if not an outright "end of the world" scenario, at least the economic collapse of the US and possible the world. Quick hypothetical - Even excluding"peak oil" scenarios, if OPEC simply decided to stop shipping us oil one day, what would you do? Yeah, we'd probably go into all-or-nothing war mode to resume the flow, but that would take months or years.

This seems unlikely as oil once pumped out of the ground has to be stored at high cost and you can't just turn off an oil well like a spigot. Also if someone else buys it such as the Chinese nothing would prevent them from re-exporting the oil at a markup. Furthermore the US has significant domestic production so it isn't like it would go to zero. We also have non-OPEC suppliers like Canada. So while it would be economically harmful it wouldn't be a complete zero oil future. We would have to ration gas like we did during WWII and prioritize domestic production. Consumers have shown when faced with higher gas prices they can cut back their consumption quite a bit.
posted by humanfont at 5:08 PM on March 22, 2011


I was going to post this earlier, but decided not to. I've changed my mind. A lot of these survivalist types who plan to hole up on their own and ride it out will do real well in the short term. They'll have food, weapons, security. If, as the Circle Jerks say, the "shit hits the fan" in a major way, it's going to be more than a month or so. When the food and ammunition runs out, what are you going to do? Agriculture, particularly non-mechanized agriculture, is a cooperative effort. Cooperative on a large scale. In a long-term collapse, your most valuable assets are going to be the people around you and your own skills.

Now what are you going to do if you've been a total dick to the people around you for the first couple of months or years of a major collapse? You can't eat gold.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:15 PM on March 22, 2011


You can't eat gold.

That's because gold doesn't grow on trees, like oranges.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:23 PM on March 22, 2011


TheWhiteSkull wins this thread by finding an actual example of civilisation collapsing.

As for copper - what do you mean it's never been a currency? The copper pennies were currencies -- not just divisions of a gold-backed currency but having value in their own right. That's why they were so small, and why farthings were fractions of a penny.
posted by jb at 5:58 PM on March 22, 2011


Can you smelt limonite (can you identify limonite) into plow-blades?

Thats a trick question why would I need to smelt limonite when there is all this high quality steel scrap just lying around for the taking.


Can you make (without ordering two out of three ingredients off the internet) gunpowder?


Boring


Can you deliver an ox calf and keep it alive long enough to pull the aforementioned plow?


As a one time cowboy, I'll say only that you've got some imagination there kid.


Can you grow a protein-balanced set of crops that will last through the winter?


I'm guessing that you have never done this for any extended period of time.

Can you identify poppies and extract opium from them so you don't have to watch your loved ones die in agony in the absence of modern medical care?


Opium is useless for most medical situations.


Can you take a deer (or at least a rabbit) without a firearm?


WTF wild game? Raise some chickens, or domesticate the rabbits.
posted by humanfont at 6:40 PM on March 22, 2011


Say there, Mad Max
posted by warbaby at 6:54 PM on March 22, 2011


Let's just fire up some of that opium, and then we can get started training the ox to smelt the limonite.
posted by box at 8:32 PM on March 22, 2011


Sadly, I sincerely believe "the end" will come within my lifetime... And if not an outright "end of the world" scenario, at least the economic collapse of the US and possible the world. Quick hypothetical - Even excluding"peak oil" scenarios, if OPEC simply decided to stop shipping us oil one day, what would you do? Yeah, we'd probably go into all-or-nothing war mode to resume the flow, but that would take months or years. This describes it pretty well. Put simply, you would most likely die within a few weeks.

This is absurd. We actually tested this theory in 1973 and again somewhat in 1979. The only violence was some fighting between striking and non-striking truck drivers. Certainly there was no looting, rioting, or martial law. The whole Northeast lost power in 2003 and while it was a mess, people managed to not lose their shits. In the 2008 Southeast U.S. shortages mentioned in the linked article, how many people died as a result of a lack of gas? Did anyone?

Also, OPEC can't simply cut off the nation's oil supply. You forget that we're an oil producing nation as well. In fact, we produce nearly as much oil as Russia or Saudi Arabia. It's only because we consume so much oil too that this is even a factor. We produce around half our own oil supply domestically, and production would surely be ramped up if imports dropped. Half of our oil imports come from OPEC members, and we would further supplement our supply with greater imports from the non-OPEC states. Add in energy conservation measures and the activation of standby coal and nuclear power plants, and there would still be a ton of oil available. Filling up at the pump might be a pain, but food would still get produced and delivered and death would have just about the same probability it does now.

Also, OPEC needs customers and they need our goods. They are actually one of the largest holders of US government debt. As they say, you have a problem when you're late on a $5,000 loan, but the bank is the one with the problem when you're late on a five billion dollar loan. Loan sharks don't generally kill their debtors because a dead guy is a lot less likely to pay back their loan. OPEC members get paid in dollars and euros in exchange for their oil. They make this trade because they like buying a lot of stuff from the US and Western Europe. The complete economic collapse of the US would actually be quite the problem for OPEC members, because they'd be left holding a whole bunch of worthless paper after their largest customer disappeared.

The crux is the article you linked is this bit: "The idea that society as a whole would simply adapt and move on assumes that people would react in a rational, law-abiding way. And that’s simply not the way most humans function in a crisis." But really, despite what would be a major disruption to our way of life, history has proven that society actually almost always does adapt and move on. Giving up and dying in the face of a problem isn't exactly in our DNA. Societies are pretty hardy things that have survived plagues, famines, wars, natural disasters, and all kinds of other problems. Most of the societies that have ever lived did so without oil. Why do you think I'd probably be dead within a matter of weeks if just because oil supplies were merely reduced by 20% or so?

And, let me just add, even if this scenario all played out exactly as described in the newsgroup post you linked, possession of a bunch of gold wouldn't help you one bit to survive doomsday.
posted by zachlipton at 10:01 PM on March 22, 2011


zach,

We _are_ most of all the societies that have ever lived. For most of human history, there were not billions of people floating around. Now there are. This has been powered by the green revolution, which when you get down to it was figuring out how to turn oil into food (the complains about UN Oil For Food programs thus being HILARIOUS).

The fossil record is replete with population examples spiking ridiculously, only to crash catastrophically. We're somewhat smarter than your average trilobyte...but what do you do if there's no topsoil, no fish, and carcinogens everywhere?
posted by effugas at 1:11 AM on March 23, 2011


All this talk of why gold did or didn't become a standard, and no-one mentioned a significant reason why gold became the standard. James Burke to the rescue :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:22 AM on March 24, 2011


if OPEC simply decided to stop shipping us oil one day, what would you do?

Depends. If they ask for, say GW Bush to be turned over for war crimes and then the oil spigot be turned on, I'd be joining the others on the Blue tossing him under the bus to get that oil turned on.

what do you do if there's no topsoil, no fish, and carcinogens everywhere?

Wait for the invisible hand of the market to fix it, of course. That same hand that made Liberty Dollars a circulating currency.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:43 AM on March 24, 2011


and the saga continues with the attempt to seized the $7m in coins and bullion at the mint.
The coins and silver, gold, platinum and copper that will be the focus of the forfeiture hearing are owned by von NotHaus and an estimated 250,000 purchasers throughout the United States who left their Liberty coins at Sunshine Minting for safekeeping, not realizing they would be seized as contraband, said Michel, of Charlotte, N.C.
This "safekeeping" is the warehouse bank aspect I referred to earlier.

If you purchase $X and leave it "for safekeeping" it effectively becomes a bank deposit that is not reported to the IRS. So the "safekeeping" purchase, if done with income that is not reported becomes a mechanism for the concealment of assets and income. Because that's how warehouse banks work.

My guess is the next step after seizure will be using the ownership information to target suspected tax cheats for audit.
posted by warbaby at 7:08 AM on April 5, 2011


oops, heres the link to the Spokesman-Review article
posted by warbaby at 7:09 AM on April 5, 2011


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