My name is Edgar J. Steele. This is a Nickel Rant.
You may have heard about the recent Federal raid and seizure of the assets and records of NORFED (National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act), a private company owned by Bernard Von NotHaus, that has been selling gold and silver bullion coins labeled “Liberty Dollars” through an arguably-questionable multi-level-marketing (MLM) scheme.
The Washington Post recently reported that “The ardent supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, the iconoclastic Texas libertarian whose campaign for the presidency is threatening to upend the battle for the Republican nomination, got word yesterday of a new source of outrage and motivation: reports of a federal raid on a company that was selling thousands of coins marked with the craggy visage of their hero.”
Neither Legal NORFED
American Liberty Dollars (ALDs) mostly are made of silver and gold. As reported by the Post, the ALD’s latest iteration carries a likeness of Ron Paul. I actively promote both silver and Ron Paul. I condemn police-state measures at all levels of government in all countries throughout the world.
Speaking of bias, let’s get my biggest bias in the financial arena out in the open before we go any further: I absolutely loathe and despise the Federal Reserve Bank (the”Fed”) and all that it does, both directly and through its various corporate (usually Goldman Sachs) and government (e.g., Treasury Secretary, now a sinecure for Goldman Sachs executives) officials in robbing from all of us, but having its greatest impact upon the most defenseless among us: the old, the infirm, the poor and the uneducated.
Facially, this is a no-brainer, right? I should be a big supporter of NORFED, right? I’m not.
Change Happens – You Can Make a Difference!
I’m coming around, though. Witness today yet another change in my outlook, brought about by people just like yourself, dear reader. This column has been simmering in the back of my mind now for two weeks, ever since I first heard of the Federal raid on NORFED, and my outlook has undergone a near-complete about-face in that time.
One of these days I will write about how my beliefs about abortion were changed 180 degrees by others – and “by others” I mean people just like you, not those writing weighty tomes on the subject or lengthy diatribes laden with scientific or religious argot. The primary upshot of that article will be to demonstrate how even old, calcified and opinionated dogs like I can learn new tricks from ordinary folks – just ordinary folks making a difference, one person at a time.
And you thought your opinion doesn’t matter. You couldn’t be more wrong! When you state your opinion to those who value you, who consider your thought processes to be worthy, you have an effect, even if you see nothing at the time. Even if they argue with you over it. Especially if they argue with you over it. Every single person counts with me, just as you do with everybody you know. I read every, single word of every email I receive from list members, though I no longer can respond to but a handful of them each week, and what you say to me has an effect, rest assured!
I Can’t Make “Private” Comments to Others, But That’s OK
I often get involved in private exchanges concerning one thing or another with other writers and with a variety of members of this list (usually, one and the same). I watched the NORFED controversy fester and grow on the Internet, then weighed in with a private comment to a few others. I have seen some forum comments claiming that I could not possibly have written the following, but rest assured that I did so:
“Guys! This is getting out of hand. Trust me, Ol’ Bernie had only a profit motive in putting out those Ron Paul coins, just as he always has through the Norfed/Liberty Dollar fast shuffle. When silver’s spot was $9, Bernie peddled his $20 Liberty Dollars to associates for $19. That’s right. Wealth sharing never has been one of Ol’ Bernie’s strong suits.
“Now he’s got you guys shilling for him in his effort to burn customers who sent him money for undelivered product. That’s right, too: Bernie is selling a product. Just because it got seized (even if illegally, which I think it was) does not relieve him of his liability to his customers.
“I told Bernie in person, at his request, two years ago, what was going to happen to him if he didn’t get right with God. He didn’t like it and he never changed, except to cloak himself in the Ron Paul flag.
“I’ve read all 38 pages of the affidavit sworn in support of the search warrants and they are after him for two things: running a Ponzi scheme and issuing coins confusingly similar to legal tender (if that isn’t the intent, then why denominate them in dollars?), then encouraging his “dealers” to treat them as they would legal tender. Bernie has a problem and Ron Paul has nothing to do with it.
“What’s the difference between Bernie and Mickey Mouse? Disney Dollars are used only on Disney properties, not at the local 7-11.
“Sorry, but I’m getting tired of silently sitting by and watching Bernie being turned into the saint he ain’t. Much more of this and he will be proposed as Ron Paul’s running mate.
“There are a few bccs on this communique, but I still am resisting the strong urge to write a column excoriating Bernie for this mess. If I see much more of this, though, I’m not going to be able to hold back.”
That little stream-of-consciousness squib of mine quickly got posted to a few on-line forums and passed around. I heard from lots of people, mostly supporting my condemnation of the outrageous profits made on the Liberty Dollar by good ol’ Bernie (Bernard Von NotHaus, founder of NORFED) and some recalling his involvement in something similar many years ago. I also heard from others, including NORFED/Liberty Dollar fans and dealers, Ron Paul supporters and a variety of conspiracy-minded folks, many encouraging me to support good ol’ Bernie.
After a few exchanges and over a week of mulling things over, I have concluded that good ol’ Bernie still ain’t no saint. However, I also have concluded that merely making a huge profit on his little MLM scheme doesn’t, in itself, make him a criminal. It does make him greedy and his customers suckers, though.
So what’s my attitudinal shift? Regardless of Bernie’s intent, I am willing to applaud his actions that have resulted in an admittedly Quixotic challenge to the worthiness of the dollar (FRN) as the sole “legal tender” allowed in use in America.
Strictly by accident, good ol’ Bernie has committed an act of civil disobedience (yes, yes – to those who disagree with the political content of such an act, its perpetrator also is known as a “criminal”). Now Bernie, ever the opportunist, seizes upon the civil disobedience aspect and, like the dumb cluck that Chevy Chase once played on Saturday Night Live back when it was worth watching, says, “I meant to do that!” Yeah, sure, Bernie – thousands wouldn’t believe you, but I do. Even so, you get credit for being in the right place at the right time to make such a claim.
To the most ardent of Bernie’s acolytes, I commend a close reading of the true account of the origin of the term “Stockholm Syndrome.” Why, some go so far as to suggest that good ol’ Bernie be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! Actually, I suppose Bernie is more deserving of that singularly meritless award than Al Gore, the latest recipient, for spouting his global-warming nonsense (just tell me why the current global warming being experienced by Mars is any different from Earth’s, Al, and I will take that back).
BernieBucks – Just Another Fiat Currency
Two years ago, at the Silver Summit conference in Coeur d’Alene, just as silver’s spot was passing $9, good ol’ Bernie and I had an extended conversation in which (among a great many other things) he tried to get me to become one of his reps. My cost for his 1-oz silver coins? $19. Good ol’ Bernie refused to answer my repeated question about what happened to the $10 difference.
I confess the news that “Mr. von NotHaus was in the process of revaluing it (the ALD) at $50 a piece,” when the Feds shut him down recently disturbs me even more than his bump from $10 to $20 back when silver began its meteoric rise from below $5 per ounce.
Lessee now: $50 less today’s spot price for 1 ounce of silver ($14.30), less the cost of minting (50 cents per coin, per a quote I got from Sunshine Mining, Bernie’s supplier, for quantities of 1,000 or more), leaves … $35.20. Let’s say that good ol’ Bernie sells them to you, his valued dealer, for $45, a bigger discount than he offered me two years ago – why, that leaves Bern with … $30.20 profit per coin. So much for Bernie’s recent claim of not being in it for the bucks – and FRN bucks, at that, which is the currency in which good ol’ Bernie demands that he be paid (after all, he’s no sucker).
While we’re on the topic of the ever-shifting face value (in FRNs, no less) of BernieBucks, let me point out that the gravamen of fiat currency is that its worth simply is dictated by its issuer – by fiat, that is. So ‘splain me sumpin’ agin (to phrase it in a way that us Idahun hill folk can understand): Why is it that ALDs, even those made of silver or gold, aren’t a fiat currency?
On the other hand, speaking of FRNs and fiat currency, the Federal Reserve System is a true world-class scam, running a much larger, genuine Ponzi scheme called “fractional reserve banking.” And talk about counterfeiting! What the Federal Reserve does in simply printing money (or creating billions from electrons) is far worse than the Liberty Dollar, which at least contains (or purports to be backed by) something of value: silver and gold. And, you know, I don’t have to use BernieBucks to conduct business, but I do have to use FRNs.
But, then, good ol’ Bernie has been issuing paper BernieBucks, too, which in legal fact are nothing more than personal IOUs, so I really have to wonder about his claim to be promoting the use of real money versus FRNs.
So What Does Ron Paul Have to Do With BernieBucks?
A correspondent finally provided me a video in which Dr. Paul himself makes clear that he never authorized the use of his face on the Liberty Dollar: http://youtube.com/watch?v=XhWRDP8v9ss . Dr. Paul also makes clear his statesmanlike demeanor when he tacitly approves the minting of what he calls “competing currencies” (of which he approves), particularly when made of gold and silver versus the “artificial currency” mandated under American Legal Tender laws. Calling it an “act of civil disobedience,” Dr. Paul reminds the listener that one who acts in such a manner must be prepared to go to jail until unjust laws might be changed.
I really have to say this again: Ron Paul is the real deal. His calm composure under fire, willingness to take on any issue and give a square, measured, even temperate, answer underscores just how presidential Ron Paul really is. The problem is that the average American quite simply is too stupid to understand most of what Dr. Paul actually says and, instead, wants to ding him for not having a deep, “Presidential-sounding” voice.
No Intent to Deceive? Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha…mmmph…snort…(‘scuse me)
Bernie goes to great lengths to state that he does not intend the ALD to be mistaken for legal tender or to be used directly in competition with US-Treasury-issued currency and coins. That is pure bushwa, to use the technical term employed by my college freshman Economics professor nearly 45 years ago in explaining why America could not possibly have both guns and butter at the same time. Of course Bernie intends both things.
If BernieBucks had been issued as a selfless act of civil disobedience, which is how Bernie today likes to depict his actions, I’d support him wholeheartedly, but his intent clearly was to siphon off your hard-earned savings into his own pockets (ironically, in the form of Federal Reserve Notes, don’t forget), while giving you something that is worth no more than any common silver “round” (1-ounce bullion coin worth spot plus 50 cents).
In their defense, Bernie and his followers insist that it is impossible to confuse ALDs with legal tender, among a great many other things, some true and some patently ridiculous. Here – you be the judge on that issue:
For those who might have guessed wrong, that is a real silver dollar on the left and one of Bernie’s silver Liberty Dollars on the right. Admit it – you had to look twice, at least. The one on the left sells for a premium over a silver bullion coin because it is “legal tender.” The one on the right sells for a premium over a silver bullion coin because … well, because some people will pay it, believe it or not.
Just Whose Fight Is This, Anyway?
When I said “shilling” in my “private” message above, I meant just that. Bernie asks for donations to finance HIS fight. Bernie suggests HIS customers file a class-action suit against the USA, NOT Bernie. Bernie states that the government owes his customers, not himself. Was his stuff wrongfully taken? Sure. Why is it our job to get it back for him?
One odd result of this whole mess is the eBay bonanza being reaped by some sellers of the few Ron Paul BernieBucks out there for hundreds of dollars each. This must be driving Bernie nuts … profits on his “coins” that he isn’t getting. Or is he, do you suppose? Suppose the eBay sellers are good ol’ Bernie?
New America. An idea whose time has come.
My name is Edgar J. Steele. Thanks for listening. Please visit my web site, www.ConspiracyPenPal.com, for other messages just like this one.