In Paul They Trust

With such a lackluster campaign and the absence of any candidates from either party who I can really get very excited about, at least Ron Paul’s candidacy does keep things interesting. Much of the interest actually comes from events beyond Paul’s actual campaign. The latest such event is a raid by federal agents on an organization which is distributing coins with Ron Paul on them. The Washington Post reports:

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.

Federal agents on Thursday raided the Evansville, Ind., headquarters of the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code (Norfed), an organization of “sound money” advocates that for the past decade has been selling a private currency it calls “Liberty Dollars.” The company says it has put into circulation more than $20 million in Liberty Dollars, coins and paper certificates it contends are backed by silver and gold stored in Idaho, are far more reliable than a U.S. dollar and are accepted for use by a nationwide underground economy.

Norfed officials said yesterday that the six-hour raid occurred just as its six employees were mailing out the first batch of 60,000 “Ron Paul Dollars,” copper coins sold for $1 to honor the candidate, who is a longtime advocate of abolishing the Federal Reserve. The group says it has shipped out about 10,000 silver Ron Paul Dollars that sold for $20 and about 3,500 of the copper $1 coins. But it said the agents seized more than 50,000 of the copper coins — more than two tons’ worth — plus smaller amounts of the silver coins and gold and platinum Ron Paul Dollars, which sell for $1,000 and $2,000.

Personally I don’t find this terribly important either way. I really doubt that the foundations of our economic system will be destroyed by such alternative currency. I have no personal objections to them using coins with Ron Paul’s image, but this is hardly where I’d place the battleground between freedom and tyranny. I consider the agenda of the religious right a far greater problem, including their opposition to abortion rights, but the so-called libertarians backing Paul are on the side opposing individual liberty on this one.

Paul supporters will undoubtedly become even more excited by this, but it will not impact the election significantly. The type of people who make this a priority of theirs are already in the Paul camp. For others, this might just further demonstrate what type of people back Paul and what their priorities are.

The Paul campaign has no connection to this, but company founder Bernard von NotHaus is a friend and supporter of Ron Paul:

Von NotHaus said that he has known Paul for years because they “move in the same circles” but that he had expressly not talked with Paul about his plans for the special coins so as not to violate federal election laws. He posted a message on the organization’s Web site urging Liberty Dollar supporters to respond to the raid by donating to Paul, saying that “in light of this assault on our financial freedom, it is clear that we need Ron Paul to lead this country more than ever.”

The attitude of many Paul supporters is reflected in Von NotHaus’ comments and the responses of Paul supporters:

“They took everything, all of the computers, everything but the desks and chairs,” the company’s founder and head, Bernard von NotHaus, said in a telephone interview from his home in Miami. “The federal government really is afraid.” Von NotHaus changed the name of Norfed to Liberty Services earlier this year, but affidavits for government search warrants served yesterday continued to use the older name.

News of the raid lit up Ron Paul online forums yesterday, the latest unlikely episode in a campaign that began as an idiosyncratic bid by the veteran congressman but has grown into a cause with the potential to influence the GOP contest. Paul, 72, has attracted droves of disaffected Republicans and independents to his platform, which includes ending the war in Iraq, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and adhering to a strict libertarian interpretation of the Constitution

I’m certain that many Paul supporters do see this as a sign that “the federal government really is afraid.” This will play into the paranoia of many Paul supporters and fuel many of their conspiracy theories. This will also be seen as a form of evidence of Paul’s importance among those who do not realize that Paul is waging a protest campaign and believe he really has a chance to win.

For many Paul supporters this will be a major issue. They adhere to what they see as a “strict libertarian interpretation of the Constitution” but their interpretation of the Constitution differs considerably from that of most people, including the courts which interpret the Constitution and more importantly the founding fathers who authored it. Unfortunately, while right on issues like Iraq and drug laws, Paul and many of his supporters stress issues such as the gold standard and abolishing the Federal Reserve which most Americans do not see as crucial to liberty. This is contrasted by their interpretation of the Constitution in a manner which would reduce freedom in areas which people would see as actually impacting their daily lives, including Paul’s denial of separation of church and state and the extension of Constitutional liberties to state and local governments.

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12 Comments

  1. 1
    FreedomDemocrat says:

    I do have to say that it is frustrating that this is the sort of activity that our government is cracking down on. There’s nothing better for them to do?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    This is one of those areas where the act might technically violate federal law but is hardly something which should be a priority, and which might be better to ignore. An analogous example, which both Paul supporters and many Democrats would agree on, would be having the DEA ignore violations of the law with regards to marijuana and stop the raids.

  3. 3
    NH says:

    Uh, the problem is that it’s legal to own precious metals and use them for whatever one wishes so the gov’t had no right to steal private property. For someone who is so worried about ‘rights’ I don’t see you getting upset about this as you should be.

    NO LAWS WERE BROKEN but our own government has now imitated Nazi Germany.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Perfect example of why the Paul supporters have no credibility once they get beyond Iraq.

    What was done was illegal. There may be valid arguments as to whether it should be illegal and whether this enforcement was a worthwhile use of government resources, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was illegal.

    If there are any questions as to whether laws were broken, this will be determined in court.

    To compare enforcement of such laws (followed by a court trial) to Nazi Germany shows how out of touch with reality many Paul supporters are. Such claims are quite common in the comments from Paul supporters.

  5. 5
    Johnnyb says:

    I don’t see how making liberty Dollars and using them for trade is really any different that paying you friends for helping you landscape your yard with a keg party and BBQ. Freedom of Contract is a fundamental freedom, and an important freedom. If people want to buy these liberty dollars, and accept them for trade then thats their own business, just like its a fundamental right to be able to redress the government for what you see as being illegal and unjust. There is no way that people trading in liberty dollars could undermine the US financial system, its not like Wall Street, Banks, or the Government are going to start accepting Liberty Dollars as payment, so the LDs have to be bought with USDs and sold for USDs so whats the big deal?

    As far as Abortion “rights” are concerned, is anyone really scared that a womans supposed right to kill her baby are really in jeapordy? Reagan, Bush I, BushII were all opposed to abortion yet with a Republican Congress and a Republican President they still could not manage to overturn Roe V. Wade. Makes me wonder if the Right is really serious about the issue, or if it like “Gay Rights” is just something the the right uses to fire idiots up enough to get them to go out and vote Republican.

  6. 6
    FreedomDemocrat says:

    Ron, I’m not entirely clear why this was illegal, but most certainly it should not be illegal.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    FreedomDemocrat,

    Paul supporters would be much smarter to stress that point and discuss why current law is wrong as opposed to many of the comments I’m seeing on other blogs which only reinforce the negative views of Paul supporters.

    If used well, this could have been an opening to help Paul. Paul is often derided when he goes beyond issues such as Iraq and talks about returning to the gold standard and the role of money. Most people simply don’t see this as a significant issue.

    Having someone arrested and their property seized could be used as an argument that this is not an esoteric issue. As I noted above, if I was going to respond to this to defend Paul on liberal blogs, I might also stress the analogy between this raid and the DEA raids on users of medical marijuana.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Johnnyb,

    Your first paragraph gets back to the point that, while maybe this should be legal, it still probably isn’t. Of course we will have to wait to see what specific charges are raised and what happens at trial.

    Your second paragraph makes a somewhat valid point that Republicans have generally been far quicker to talk about the goals of the religious right at the time of elections as opposed to actually making them a priority. However in the last few years the Republican Party has fallen more firmly in the grasp of the religious right and there is now a much greater chance that they will successfully push their agenda if in power. One more change on the Supreme Court could change everything.

    In the past I also suspect that many Republicans did not want to see Rowe v. Wade overturn because this would make abortion an election issue and would cost Republicans seats in much of the north.

  9. 9
    libhomo says:

    I’m amazed that nobody seems to see the humor in the idea of Ron Paul coins.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    I think that the humor in this is one reason why the story has received so much attention.

  11. 11
    Galileo says:

    Are my Disney dollars now in danger of seizure?

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    Galileo,

    Don’t worry, your Disney Dollars are in no danger. Disney Dollars are actually gift certificates which are only valid at places such as Disney theme parks, resorts, and stores. They have nothing to do with the action described here.

    You’d have a slightly more serious question if you asked about Disney pins. While they still do not resemble legal tender, they are exchanged between people and do appreciate in value, even if not by as much as Ron Paul Dollars.

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