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Below is a guest post from the Sound Money Defense League. CRI does not necessarily endorse or oppose the views expressed in the article below, but we do believe it’s important to understand the value of money and how currencies get debased.

We Americans no longer carry gold and silver money in our pockets and purses as our grandparents did during their lives. But we still carry the history, legacy and spirit of those gold and silver coins in our language – with more meaning than you might imagine.

“Sound money” has a clear message recognized for centuries around the world. It describes the musical, metallic ring of a gold, silver, or copper coin dropped on any hard surface of glass, stone, wood, or metal. Sound money literally refers to real wealth, with a natural, unmistakable signature of honesty and integrity, as opposed to the swishy paper and plastic debt used almost exclusively today.

The term “sound money” is believed to come from Ancient Rome, where small silver coins were standard in everyday commerce, for paying Roman soldiers to buying exotic goods from all corners of the known world. As Rome squandered its wealth, it found what seemed an easy shortcut to shore up the treasury. It gradually debased those silver coins with common metals, ultimately cutting the silver content to just 5 percent.

But that didn’t fool anyone for long, most of all disciplined Roman soldiers, who did not appreciate being paid with worthless mystery metal in return for risking their lives on Rome’s bloody battlefields.

Do You Want True Money or a Debased Dud?

Not every Roman soldier had room in his gear for a touchstone, usually fieldstone or slate, also used to test the purity of metals. But they quickly discovered the difference in the sound of true money and a debased dud.

They recognized that real silver had a distinctive melodious ring when bounced on a hard surface, such as the blade of a handy sword, a bronze breastplate, or an ornate marble floor. Sound money carried the ‘ring of truth,’ while debased coinage landed with a dull, disappointing thud.

The debasement of Rome’s silver currency unmasked the deceit of a bankrupt empire, which ended with the fall of Rome, a pattern repeated many times. Sound money’s “ring of truth” had found its place in the history of money and of nations.

As the United States grew westward to the Pacific Coast and north to Alaska, gold, silver and copper coins of all nations were legal tender in the young United States until the 1850’s, and were in use even long after that. Americans with no formal education in reading, writing and arithmetic relied on the sight, sound, and feel of the only money they knew. Learning the different musical ringing sounds of those coins could easily qualify even a prairie settler fresh off the wagon train as an economic expert.

In the Old West of the range roving American cowboy, the ring from that silver dollar tossed on the bar of polished oak told the saloon keeper he was pouring whiskey for sound money, and not for a counterfeit forgery.

The sound money test unmasked one of the most famous counterfeiting schemes in American coinage history. The Liberty Nickel (1883-1913) was originally struck without the words “Five Cents,” bearing instead only the Roman numeral “V.” Gold plated Liberty Nickels were passed off as a newly designed $5 gold piece, but the sound money test quickly identified the scandal. Within six months of issuing the first “V” nickels, the U.S. Mint added the words “Five Cents.” But for the next many years, every Liberty $5 Half Eagle in town was tested for its ring of truth.

Sound money means simplicity, honesty, and trustworthy recognition. It stands for strength and durability, which were also characteristics of those pioneering Americans who built our nation.

The ring of sound money for centuries has transcended borders and nationalities by singing its own melodic language. No matter what words were stamped into a precious metal coin, that ring of sound money certified its value, or exposed the deception.

Governments Have Distorted the Meaning of Money

“Sound money” carries such a powerful message there’s little wonder that governments issuing paper fiat currency have attempted to corrupt its meaning, with help from unimaginative and lazy educators and journalists.

“Hard currency” first referred to metal coins, not paper money, but the term over the years has come to mean that flimsy, paper, folding cash is more trustworthy than a handwritten check or IOU.

“Good as gold” is another aberration of “sound money,” usually referring to credit worthiness, even though there is no credit as good as gold.

When Washington and Wall Street began pushing plastic credit cards, which are nothing more than debt disguised as wealth, Americans were introduced to the gold card along with the credit rating and FICO score as a false measure of one’s financial worth. Today, the newest edition of the $100 Federal Reserve note carries a golden inkwell and feather pen, as if to sarcastically say money itself is a masquerade of paper script and not precious metal.

Americans today have no memory of those times when gold, silver, and copper coins were tossed across a store counter, or counted out by hand, to pay for everything from penny candies to Ford Model-T automobiles. That era began ending when President Roosevelt in 1933 outlawed the use of gold coins in everyday American commerce.

The separation of Americans from their Constitutional heritage to true money continued through 1964, with the end of small coinage containing 90% silver. The deception was complete by 1982 when copper quietly disappeared from the Lincoln penny.

But no government could remove the ringing echo of sound money from history, or from us. And government cannot camouflage its counterfeits with gold colored paint. You can experience sound money’s evident ring of truth for yourself. Toss any gold or silver coin on your kitchen table and you will hear the history of honest money ringing down through the centuries.

And perhaps, thanks to grassroots projects like the Sound Money Defense League, you will hear the trumpeting of better days to come.

Sound Money Defense League and MoneyMetals.com columnist Guy Christopher is a veteran writer living on the Gulf Coast. A retired investigative journalist, published author, and former stockbroker, Christopher has taught college as an adjunct professor and is a veteran of the 101st Airborne in Vietnam.

 

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Legislative Hall in Dover, Delaware

This article originally appeared at the Watchdog.org website on January 20, 2015. Read the original at http://watchdog.org/193657/legislative-priorities-2015-delaware-way/

Last week was the first week the state Legislature was in session, but they will soon adjourn for budget and finance hearings before getting back to lawmaking in mid-March. Five new representatives and one new senator took their oaths of office for the first time, but this Legislature looks almost identical to the last one: the Democrats control the governor’s mansion, the House of Representatives 25-16, down from 27-14 last year, and the Senate 12-9, down from 13-8.

Notably absent from the last General Assembly were bills to make Delaware’s economy more free as the state—well-known as the “Switzerland of America” for its easy incorporation process and fair Court of Chancery—faces competition from Nevada and North Dakota for corporate business and from the Sun Belt for jobs. This year the Caesar Rodney Institute hopes to see legislation to address the following issues:

1. Education Savings Accounts: Delaware has “school choice”-IF your idea of school choice is to allow a child to transfer from one public school district to another (provided that district has room).While that’s better than nothing, that’s not really school choice.

CRI supported a bill last year called the “Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account Act” (PEESAA) which would have introduced Education Savings Accounts as an option for low-income and special-needs students who are the most likely to need additional services not being offered by the traditional public schools. This bill was tabled in the House Education Committee but we hope ESA’s and other bills encouraging school choice are brought up this year.

2. Prevailing Wage (PW): Delaware has an insanely wide range of wages a that business who wants a public construction contract has to pay its employees to get the contract.

Every January the state Department of Labor mails out its PW survey to union-friendly contractors and conveniently “forgets” to remind non-union-friendly construction companies to ask for, and return, the survey. This results in wage variance like $14.51 per hour for a bricklayer in Sussex County, but $48.08 per hour for the same job in Kent and New Castle Counties. Not to be outdone, boilermakers get $71.87 an hour in New Castle County, but “only” $30.73 in Kent County.

These high rates prevent many construction projects from being started and make those which are done more expensive for taxpayers. If the PW won’t be eliminated, we hope the state will instead use the U.S. Occupational Employment Statistics survey. This would reduce rates by almost 40 percent on average and free up nearly $63 million of spending from the State’s FY15 capital budget, including almost $18 million for more school capital improvements.

3. Make Delaware the next right-to-work state: Delaware is not a right-to-work (RTW) state and, between that and our inconsistent-as-applied PW law, many businesses outside the state choose not to move here. Incorporating and buying office space in Wilmington for some high-paying executive jobs is one thing. But Moody’s Analytics in late 2013 said Delaware was the only state at immediate risk of falling back into a recession and a lot of this is due to more businesses closing than opening in Delaware. Pass legislation to end forced unionization and support pro-job growth policies instead.

4. Tax and regulatory reform: Only five states have a Gross Receipts Tax, which is a tax on revenue generated before profit and loss is factored in. Three of those states have no further taxes on corporate earnings and the only other state (Virginia) that does has lower tax rates. Between this tax, high personal and corporate income taxes, franchise taxes, and overall over-regulation by state agencies, Delaware is increasingly threatening its “Incorporation Golden Goose” as Nevada and North Dakota work to take business from the state. This needs to be addressed.

5. Work to lower energy prices: Delaware has electric rates 25 percent higher than the states we compete with for jobs like nearby Virginia. We import close to one-third of our electricity from out of state, the highest rate in the nation. Some of this is due to our geography, but a lot of it is due to the state’s failure to build a network of natural gas pipelines from the Marcellus Shale to Delaware.

Coupled with the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) carbon tax scheme and taxpayer subsidizing of “green” companies like Bluewater Wind (gone), Fisker Automotive (didn’t build cars in Delaware), and Bloom Energy (still has not brought the promised 900 high-paying full-time jobs), Delaware cannot grow its economy if energy prices are high. We want the Legislature to pass natural gas pipeline extension and end participation in RGGI and subsidies for “green” companies.

What issues do you think the state Legislature should focus on this year?

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If you missed the recent news update about the lawsuit Dave Stevenson and CRI board member John Moore filed against DNREC and former DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, you can read about it here.
While the ruling by Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes means Dave et. al. can proceed with the case because they have the standing to do so (a decision we expected- the state constitution says that on matters related to the state constitution and its interpretation any Delaware citizen has standing) they still have to win the case outright. Winning the case means tossing out the decision DNREC made last November when O’Mara was the Secretary- a decision to limit the number of carbon permits allowed to be sold to “polluters” in exchange for “permission to pollute”- a decision which has netted the state over $13.3 million this year from the private sector as of October 1. Losing the case means the decision stands- and DNREC’s action to limit the number of permits allowed to be auctioned for sale will cause electric companies to pay more for “polluting”, and they in turn will pass the buck to the consumers- all of us who live and/or work in the state. We believe what DNREC did was unconstitutional, and this is why Dave is the lead plaintiff in this lawsuit. Note: CRI itself is not involved in the lawsuit.
We need your help to make sure Delaware’s carbon tax vanishes. Please click here to open a PDF attachment with a letter asking your state representative to end Delaware’s participation in our cap-and-trade tax scheme. Then, mail or e-mail the letter to your representative. They may or may not listen to CRI, but all of us together can stop state agencies from raising taxes or fees on we the people whenever they feel like it, in direct violation of the state constitution!

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Tomorrow, December 7th, Delaware will commemorate the 226th anniversary of Delaware becoming the First State-the day Delaware was first in the new nation to ratify the US Constitution.

For this year’s blog post we ask: What was political life in Delaware back then? Delaware’s first constitution was created in 1776, but like the Articles of Confederation along with it, many Delawareans thought the new state’s constitution was too heavily weighted towards the legislative branch (the articles the legislative branch was composed of elected representatives from the states).

The General Assembly was the only governing body during the 1780s. They worked on laws ranging from improving the economy and transportation, adopting laws to enable bridges to be built and milldams to be erected along the state;s waterways, even to preventing pigs from wandering the streets of Delaware’s new towns. Some other laws include a 1785 law passed to eliminate local fairs where alcohol was being served. The next year they passed a law to eliminate “idleness” which meant no racing, cock fighting (roosters, just so it’s clear), or shooting matches. All of these new laws were due to the new found religious feeling among Delaware’s various Protestant denominations.

Despite Delaware’s being a border state during the Civil War, in the 1780s there was a movement towards abolition. In 1787 the General Assembly reversed a 179 law which treated the theft of Black people and horses as equal, and passed a law to prevent Black people, both slave and free, from being sold out of state, and then they banned the fitting of slave ships in Delaware.

In 1786 Delaware was asked to send a delegation to a governmetn convention in Annapolis. Since many states did not send delegates, those who attended decided to postpone the convention to the following year, and hold it in Philadelphia instead. This was the Constitutional Convention.

Delaware’s delegates: George Read, John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom, and Gunning Bedford Jr.

Delaware was one of the states who pushed for equal representation in the new US government, which is why every state gets two senators regardless of size. The House was apportioned by population, which the larger states wanted. Believing this was fair, Delaware’s delegation sent the new US Constitution to Delaware’s General Assembly, presented to the body on October 24. But, there was a problem.

There was a contested election in Sussex County over an election to the General Assembly. Armed Tories were harrassing voters, physically and non physically. The House decided to remove this obstacle to ratifying the state’s Constitution, and on November 7, 1787, they adopted a resolution to hold an election for delegates to attend a state-wide convention in Dover to consider ratifying the Federal Constitution. Three and a half weeks later delegates met at the Golden Fleece Tavern owned by Elizabeth Battell in Dover to discuss (with lots of alcohol and food) whether to adopt the new Constitution.

During this time the General Assembly, not all of whose members were invited to the Golden Fleece Tavern held their official business in a tavern owned by a rival inkeeper to Ms. Battell, named John Freeman.

Five days later the delegates came out and announced that indeed, Delaware would ratify the new Constitution. This made Delaware the first state to do so.

We can glean from Delaware’s politics in the 1780s that being a small state made getting people to conventions more easy, which probably helped Delaware become the First State. A decision to not hold up the deliberation of the US Constitution because of a disputed election in Sussex County in hindsight appears to have worked. Given how strong Tory sentiment was in Sussex County, they may not have been able to push through otherwise.

Tomorrow, remember Delaware Day, and if you are in Dover you can participate in festivities!

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