Tag Archives: Nullification

If the US Dollar is So Great, Why Do They Have to Force Us to Use It?


Monopolies are bad. Is a money monopoly good?

Most mainstream economists will tell you that a central bank that has control over the currency is necessary, good, and just. But an important question that seems to go unanswered is: why do we have to be forced to use it?

Most Americans probably don’t feel as though they are being coerced into using the dollar. They go into a store and it has prices in dollars and nothing else. They get paid in dollars, make all of their purchases in dollars, and have their savings denominated in dollars. But even so, the US government not only frowns upon, but also prosecutes, those who challenge its monopoly on money.

Monopolies are maintained by force (even money monopolies)

According to Simon Black, the Department of the Treasury recently shut down Liberty Reserve, a digital currency provider that allowed customers to trade virtual currency that could be tied to fiat currency or precious metals. They did this ostensibly in the name of “money laundering.” Since it allows anonymous banking, Liberty Reserve was accused of being primarily “designed to allow money laundering and illicit finance.”

Liberty Dollars

Does this look like something that someone would try to pass off as US Dollars?

This is reminiscent of the prosecution of Bernard von NotHaus, the creator of the Liberty Dollar. He provided customers with monetary notes that were fully backed by precious metals. His vaults were raided by the US government, who stole all of his customers’ gold, silver, and platinum that was stored there. The warrant accused him of mail fraud, wire fraud, counterfeiting, money laundering, and conspiracy. A North Carolina jury found him guilty of “making, possessing, and selling his own coins.” He faces up to 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and the forfeiture of $7 million worth of precious metal. His sentence is still being decided. (I actually wrote a letter to the judge presiding over his case. I’m not sure that it will do von NotHaus any good, but I felt compelled to to make any effort that might help alleviate such an injustice.)

Especially appalling was the gross hypocrisy and obvious falsities spoken by the Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Anne M. Tompkins, who said the Liberty Dollar was  “a unique form of domestic terrorism” trying “to undermine the legitimate currency of this country”. She also said, “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”

I did mention these statements in my letter to the judge, pointing out the fact that the US Constitution states that states may only consider gold and silver legal tender. Thus, von NotHaus’ currency is far more legitimate than Federal Reserve Notes! Not only that, but it is laughable to think that the Liberty Dollar undermines economic stability, especially in comparison to the problems caused by the creation of “legitimate currency” by the Fed.

I’m surprised and disappointed that a jury could be convinced that the Liberty Dollar was intended as counterfeit. Indeed, I’m not even sure that’s what they were convinced of. Maybe they heard the term “terrorism” and soiled their pants and decided to convict. Even a small child could easily tell that the Liberty Dollar is distinct from the USD.

What can we do?

In addition to the cases of Liberty Reserve and the Liberty Dollar, the government went after Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange site. It seems to be quite clear that the government is desperate to maintain its money monopoly. They will accuse those who don’t go along of being terrorists, money launderers, and counterfeiters…whatever is necessary.

But there are solutions, as long as people are willing to use them. Unlike the Liberty Reserve and Liberty Dollar, Bitcoin has no central vault or exchange, making it nearly impossible for the government to stop. As well, I find the solutions mentioned and used by GSF in this No Time 4 Bull article to be quite interesting. I highly recommend checking it out.

It appears that the Internet and encryption have given us new opportunities to undermine the money monopoly and create our own sound money since the government is unable or unwilling to do so itself.

This is part of the beauty of voluntary interaction.



A Case Study on Nullification: Marijuana Laws


I’ve written a few of posts mentioning nullification: Tom Woods on NPR, Tom Woods’ article on anti-nullifiers, and challenging the notion that the Supreme Court ought to have a monopoly on Constitutional interpretation.

Tom Woods wrote the book on this subject and has FAQ.

But the first thing I would like to ask in today’s post is: “How much does it matter that nullification has a Constitutional or historical basis?” The more I think about it, I find that my answer is: “It matters only to the extent that people will accept its use as a method for decentralizing power.” If it were to be shown, beyond a doubt, that nullification is, in fact, unconstitutional, that wouldn’t matter one bit to me in terms of its legitimacy. I took no oath to uphold the Constitution; I was forced under it at birth.

It seems ridiculous that the same people who accept no limits on federal power are often the same ones who declare nullification unconstitutional. But most of what is considered “constitutional law” has nothing to do with the Constitution, but with legal precedents. For example, judicial review is not in the Constitution. It was a precedent set by Marbury v. Madison (1803).  In the same way, why can’t states nullifying federal laws set a precedent? According to the anti-nullifiers’ own logic, nullification would have to be acceptable.

Photo of Mark ThorntonAnd we have several precedents of states doing just that. A recent example is of Washington and Colorado decriminalizing marijuana and Mark Thornton writes a fantastic article about it.

One particularly interesting point he makes is that, in doing this, Washington and Colorado are effectively nullifying a UN Law as well. He says,

In effect, the voters of Colorado and Washington have placed themselves and their states on equal legal footing with both national and international governments. This is important, because, if thanks to nullification, governments have to obtain acceptance, or at least acquiescence from subsidiary governments, rather than just imposing their dictates on them, they are more likely to act in a less threatening and harmful manner.

Read the rest of this entry

Logic Fail on NPR


This video is from a couple of years ago, but I think the subject is still quite relevant today. It is a recording of NPR’s “On Point with Tom Ashbrook” where Neil Siegel (a Duke Law Professor) and Tom Woods (professor of U.S. history) are guests, discussing the subject of nullification in light of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

At first, I was struck by how poor the arguments were by callers. Then, I noticed how bad the arguments by Professor Siegel were. And finally, I began wondering if they were going to let Tom Woods speak. It was quite frustrating to listen to, and what better place to vent my frustration than the Internet?

@01:22 Neil Siegel expresses that he thinks there are legitimate discussions about limits to federal power but doesn’t like the fact that such discussions often involve talking about nullification or secession. This seems strange to me for a couple of reasons: 1) he says the individual mandate is constitutional because of Congress’ taxing power, and agrees with the decision of the Raich case (where SCOTUS ruled that Congress, under the Interstate Commerce clause, has the power to regulate marijuana that has neither been sold nor crossed state lines) which to me implies he believes that there are no limits to federal power; 2) he doesn’t address how limits to federal power will be enforced. He repeatedly says that nullification is not mentioned in the Constitution and is therefore not legitimate, yet does not acknowledge the fact that neither is judicial review by the US Supreme Court. Read the rest of this entry

The Anti-Nullifiers



This article by my boy Tom Woods seems to be a good primer on the merits of nullification and answering some common objections. For a more complete list of objections and his responses, see here.

As far as legal arguments go, my question is, “Who cares?” (Please see my article on No Time 4 Bull regarding this.) Since I already take the view that the “social compact” called the U.S. Constitution doesn’t apply to me since I never signed it, I hold that its enumerated powers that are coercive, such as the power to tax, are illegitimate. See Lysander Spooner’s No Treason for more on this. However, we should use the means we have available to us, and if the state governments can be used to nullify federal laws, that is useful in and of itself. I also think it’s useful in the sense that the greater utilization of nullification will increase its acceptance and legitimacy. Hopefully, the devolution of power from the federal government to the states will put a check on Leviathan, as well as further the march of the very radical goal of secession. And once secession of the states from the Union is widely accepted, how long until secession of individuals from the State is accepted and the “gang of robbers” loses legitimacy entirely?

Yeah, I’ll admit that this process of dissolving the State sounds a little farfetched. But if so, then I would like to ask: if the free society is to be achieved, however unlikely, what is the most likely method that it will be brought about?