Government shuts down competition to its failing currency

That could have just as easily been the headline of a recent Washington Post story. The media would rather treat it as an amusing sideshow to a presidential campaign (feel free to argue that their opening paragraph is objective). But the article really should have been about laws and liberties that matter to a lot more people than the (still substantial) number of directly affected mostly conservative libertarians.

The Indianapolis bureau of the FBI referred calls to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte. That office's spokeswoman, Suellen Pierce, declined to comment. But bloggers at the libertarian Reason Foundation posted online a 35-page copy of the affidavit for a search warrant filed last week in Asheville, N.C., laying out the government's case against Norfed. Pierce said the search warrant had been accidentally made public and has since been sealed.

In the affidavit, an FBI special agent states that he is investigating Norfed for federal violations including "uttering coins of gold, silver, or other metal," "making or possessing likeness of coins," mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. "The goal of Norfed is to undermine the United States government's financial systems by the issuance of a non-governmental competing currency for the purpose of repealing the Federal Reserve and Internal Revenue Code," he states.

The agent states that the investigation started two years ago. A year ago, the U.S. Mint issued a warning against using the Liberty Dollar, prompting a lawsuit by Norfed.

That's a hell of a lot of charges for something that appears to be more honest than your average business advertised on late-night infomercials. And a raid carried out by a secret affidavit? There's no direct accusation that this group was doing anything but what they said they were (in fact their claim of precious-metal backed coins is confirmed by seizures at the private mint making the coins). If they were lying to people, that would be dealt with (if at all) in a completely different way. The issue here is the right to use anything as an alternative to the U.S. government's dollar.

This is really important. Not for any particular currencies like this one, but for the concept that freedom means the freedom to use whatever you want as a unite of exchange. Local currencies, in particular, can be key to prosperity when national governments send everything to hell (or even when they don't) [will provide links]. See also Jane Jacobs' work.

The government should be regulating the sale of gift cards ($8 billion siphoned into corporate profits from this phony currency) not raiding precious-metal backed coins.

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