I Found Another Village Idiot

The mid-term elections last year were in many ways manna from heaven for liberal bloggers.  You had Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, and Carl Paladino in New York running for office.  All of them had upset “establishment” Republicans in the primaries, all of them were favorites of the Tea Party groups, and all of them were batshit crazy.  Which made any political blogging a piece of cake.  All you had to do was to check the news, read the latest thing they’d done, and instant blog post!  It was with mixed feelings that I watched them go down to defeat.   While I most definitely didn’t want them to win, at the same time there was a pang of loss as I realized that no longer would I have the easy subjects to write about.  Oh, Christine O’Donnell has managed to reinsert herself into the news, since it’s apparently very illegal to live off your campaign donations, but it’s not the same.

Fortunately for me, and other liberal bloggers, it turns out that there is still a wealth of village idiots who have been given government jobs by the Republican Party.  While the Democratic Party’s idiots tend to be in the media, the Republican Party’s idiots are run for office.  Sometimes, they’re even elected.   This morning, I was reminded of that when I saw this wonderful piece at Talking Points Memo:   Georgia GOPer Pushes Bill For Taxes To Be Paid In Gold And Silver.

Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin (R) has sponsored legislation to force the state to conduct all monetary transactions with U.S. gold or silver coins.

Seriously.  The bill is called the “Constitutional Tender Act,” and it it stipulates:

To amend Title 7 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to banking and finance, so as provide a short title; to provide legislative findings; to define certain terms; to require any bank or lending institution serving as a depository for the state or any department or agency of the state to offer and to accept gold and silver coin for deposit; to amend Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to state government, so as to provide legislative findings; to define certain terms; to require the exclusive use of gold and silver coin as tender in payment of debts by or to the state; to provide for related matters; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Yes, he wants to require that “pre-1965” silver and gold US coins be used because it’s “in the Constitution.”   Let’s look at it from this standpoint – if you use those coins, you have to acquire them.  Their value in settling debts, taxes, or for purchase is the face value of the coin.  A $20 gold coin is worth $20.  But, to acquire it costs quite a bit more.  In other words, Franklin wants to have people buy coins so they could pay their taxes, which would cost them far more than the face value of said coins.   Which ought to be interesting when people realize that.

What’s even dumber?  He doesn’t understand what the Constitution actually says.  Here’s the phrase he’s misreading: Article 1, Section 10:

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility

The title of Section 10 is entitled “Powers prohibited of States.”  That means that while states are not allowed to coin money, or can’t specify for themselves anything else a legal tender, there is no such limitation on the federal government.  In fact, Section 8 specifically gives to Congress the power to:  “To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measure.”

In other words, there’s a group of people out there – led by Ron Paul – who want to return the country to the gold standard.  Which is an outstandingly bad idea, particularly now.  But they want it.  That it’s going to cost people a lot of money to do it – more than they owe in taxes, really, is irrelevant.     Yes, by all means, it’s going to be an interesting time for liberal bloggers.   Here I thought I’d have to work to find subjects, but it turned out that once the media glare died down, there’s a host of villages whose idiots have been found.

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33 Comments

Filed under Politics

33 responses to “I Found Another Village Idiot

  1. kittypat

    I understand that the gold standard means 1$ paper money = 1$ worth of gold, just from googling around I found pages of articles on the myth of the gold standard. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that there never was a gold standard, and once you start printing or minting money it pretty much goes out the window? Aren’t they trying to recapture something from the past that never existed? We (the US) printed money right after the Revolutionary War to payoff our debts. Is this correct NB or do I misunderstand what the gold standard means?

    • Exactly. The dollar’s value was fixed to a specific weight of gold, and at any time, you could exchange that dollar for that weight of gold from the government.

      What the idiots – like this one – have done is to read that clause in the Constitution as stating that only gold or silver coinage is “legal tender.” Which ignores that there were a lot of different coinages around (pieces of 8, etc.) which were not US money, and what that clause gave the states the option was to accept (or exchange) them in payment.

  2. sjterrid

    I’m sure we will have a lot more incredible lame ideas coming from this Congress. I think its Issa who wants to conduct investigations of President Obama, Because “he’s the most corrupt “. I don’t know which politician was saying that there should be no more work done in the lame duck session because President Obama dared to actually pass laws.
    I only pray that none of these ideas come actually to pass.

    • majii

      For an excellent write up of Issa’s big fail on teevee this morning go to Politicususa. Ed Henry had the facts at hand and used them effectively to challenge Issa on some of the foolish things he’s been saying. Issa felt sort of “offended” that Henry was asking him questions that he didn’t want to answer. This interview shows that although Issa might be in Congress, he’s still another village idiot.

      http://www.politicususa.com/

      • sjterrid

        Thanks for the Link. Maybe Ed Henry and others finally realize that when they were making these statements they weren’t saying things to get elected, but they actually meant them.

        • That has been the case out in Nevada, where the Tea Party favorite won the governor’s seat. There’s been a lot of horrified reaction from the business community when they realized that he was actually going to do what he’d promised the Tea groups he’d do. They’re not happy, because it’s basically going to gut the state education system and make life miserable for the business community in the state.

          So much for them being “pro business.” 😀

          • sjterrid

            I almost forgot about the newly elected governors from Wisconsin and Ohio that said no to Light Rail even before they were elected.

      • Fonsia

        Ah, that’s a lovely thing. Crazy Issa is my congresscritter (i live in shame). There’s going to be lots more of this, unless the R leadership sit on him and shut him up, which I think could happen.

        • soonergrunt

          How could a military-heavy community like the CA-49 have elected a guy who resigned his commission in lieu of trial by court-martial? Everybody knows that he was once accused of car theft. Does no one in the CA-49 care that he resigned (and basically admitted guilt) to avoid a court-martial. Didn’t that ever come up?

  3. majii

    I am so ashamed that this village idiot is in my state legislature and will be allowed to try codifying some of his lame brain ideas. This bill is a waste of legislators’ time and taxpayers’ monies. If Franklin and other republicans were as knowledgeable about the Constitution as they say they are, they wouldn’t keep embarrassing themselves by crafting legislation of this sort that has no power to change anything. If the state refuses to accept my checks to pay my real estate and auto taxes, they’ll be in a pickle. I’m not refusing to pay them, but I’m not buying gold/silver to pay these taxes that I’ve never had problems paying with legal tender before.

    • I’ve found it irritating in the extreme that the same people who say they want to “restore the Constitution” have little idea of what the Constitution says. When they do find out, they want to get rid of it, or try to back around it. That’s why you have idiots saying that the 14’th Amendment has been “misinterpreted” – umm, no, it hasn’t. You can even read the discussions by the writers of the Amendment (they’re public record) and you find out that they meant just what it’s been ‘interpreted’ as – you’re born on US soil, you’re a citizen. Which was also the interpretation (with the exception of excluding blacks) prior to the 14’th Amendment’s passage.

  4. Tao Jones

    What is the source of these bizarre interpretations of Constitution and national power? I’ve heard the arguments about the Tea Party being astroturf but that doesn’t explain the bumper stickers and angry yard signs in my neck of the woods. This movement is an aggregation of people who appear to fear their government, largely don’t understand it, won’t listen to explanations about it except from extremist voices, wants to believe that Obama represents some kind of marxist fascism, yet they propose a kind of economic anarchy as the solution for all our nation’s problems. It is a severe case of “I’ve got mine, fuck you” which seems to rely on the idea that heavy personal armament will be all it takes to maintain personal financial security. I suspect these are tribal thinker, circling the wagons as times get tough, boning up on Revelations to know the gameplan for the End Times and reinforcing themselves with conspiracy theories in the meantime. I simply cannot imagine these people are going to be able to effectively govern, or even participate in governance, and they will simply occupy the media for two years spouting nonsense. Funny how the Purist Left takes them so seriously. I suppose anarchists of all sort recognize their own.

    • In many ways, it harks back to decisions to skimp on history classes – or civics – in education, particularly in the junior and senior high level. Thinking back, and I’m in my 50’s, I don’t really remember covering a lot about the Constitution, what it said, and what it meant. That really didn’t happen until I had to take political science electives in college. I went to a school that was considered to be pretty good, so I would imagine that it’s worse elsewhere. If you never actually read through the Constitution, as well as surrounding history – particularly the Federalist Papers – you’d tend to “pick and choose” what parts you believe in, or a particular interpretation, particularly if they fit with a pre-existing prejudice, or what others are telling you it “says.” That’s why you have idiots like that one in Arizona who’s claiming that the 14’th Amendment was “misinterpreted,” and asinine pandering politicians like Lindsey Graham parroting it. No, it’s not being misinterpreted at all. It means exactly what it says, and yes, the authors of the amendment meant it to be taken that way.

      • majii

        Until I retired in 2009, Norbrook, I taught U.S. History and civics in GA. I placed a strong focus on the Constitution. The problem that I kept running into was that the students could read and understand the information in the Constitution, but their ministers, families, and rw teevee and radio personalities had control of their minds. I remember a discussion in one of my civics classes back in 2oo8 about whether then candidate Obama was a “baby killer.” We discussed Roe vs. Wade, and what was behind the vote that Obama took on this issue when he was a member of the Illinois State Legislature. In spite of the facts, I had many students who came from fundamentalist backgrounds who 100% refused to believe that Obama was not a “baby killer.” I had one student who said that I was a good teacher, but he still believed most of what Limbaugh, an under-educated mouthpiece, said about the president. He further informed me that he and his dad never missed a Limbaugh broadcast.

        In one of my U.S. History classes many of the students believed that GWB could do no wrong (programming,) and that Muslims were the sworn enemies of Christianity. I shocked them to their cores by pulling up a pic of GWB greeting, kissing, and holding hands with a Saudi Prince when he came to visit the WH, and I recommended that the students always do the requisite research before believing what they hear coming from any source.

        This is what teachers are faced with. We present the facts, teach the Constitution and about the Federalist Papers, but all of our efforts are drowned out by the churches/ministers and rw radio and teevee liars.

  5. You will indeed have no shortage of village idiots. Just start with the list of congresscritters ready to vote against raising the debt limit. Even George Will, noted climate denier, calls it “suicide”.

    Austan Goolsbee chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers on Sunday:
    “I don’t see why anybody’s talking about playing chicken with the debt ceiling. If we get to the point where you’ve damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity“.

    • Not to mention the sudden cessation of a number of government services which their constituents rely on. If they go ahead, it’ll be a short stay in Washington for them.

  6. Tao Jones

    How long will it be before business interests reassert themselves against these baggers to bring them to heel. Or bolt to the Dems out of frustration.

    • I think sometime in early 2012, particularly if they stop being useful idiots. Either they “get the message” next year, or they’re going to find a lot of their funding drying up. Yes, if anyone is under any doubts about where their funding is coming from, I think they’re going to learn the hard way.

    • Fleeing has already started:
      County commissioner flees an arrogant local GOP . He switched parties and became a Democrat after the Republicans asked him to resign. From the opinion piece:

      Whoa, boys!

      You win a couple of congressional seats and you start trying to throw your weight around. The strong wind of a national storm to throw incumbents out of office does not a hurricane make.[…]
      They do not have to look back too far in history to see what happens when a party and its leadership suffers from hubris and overconfidence and cockiness.

      Granted, this is at the county government level but the tea party overreading their “mandate” and their power has already started.

  7. pass the popcorn, please… how is everyone this fine evening?

  8. If only one could confine the damage these village idiots will do to the villages that insisted on electing them, then oh! what fun it would be to watch the horrified realization set in: “My God, what have we done?”

    • A long time ago, I went off on my (then) state assemblyman, who was a Republican. I told him “Look, the only reason you’re in Albany is because your town wanted to get you the hell out of it. Stop trying to tell me what you’re doing. I already know. Nothing!” Which was true – he really was put into office (it was a safe seat) because they wanted to keep him out of the way.

      Things like that aren’t a problem – unless they happen to be members of the majority party. Then the realization sets in…

  9. I see and hear a lot of comments and blog posts like this one, so I sympathize with your point of view. (those crazy gold nuts) However, you really should research your topic a little before making such bold – broad statements. Every government that has ever created a fiat paper currency dating as far back as Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century has gone broke and the paper became worthless. The dollar was backed by gold until 1971 when Nixon closed the gold window to foreign countries, that is actually when France sent over a warship to pick up their remaining gold exchanged for dollars. 1971…not that long ago. Printing too many paper dollars, unrestricted by the limits of an underlying commodity such as gold, devalues the paper dollars…it’s that simple. This is what is now happening to the U.S. dollar on a massive scale, it’s very obvious. The U.S. will have the option to tie their new currency to gold or form some kind of relationship with the SDR, I’d guess they will lean to gold. You CAN’T print funny paper money forever, it’s been tried many times before, it does not work. There are about a dozen states now with ‘sound money’ legislation or constitutional tender bills, most are just about the same, but generally they provide the voluntary option to use precious metal, or include a small part of a state tax as required “to be paid in”. These payments in metal is valued by weight and purity, NOT face value. This may be very different from GA’s bill. I don’t know, the guy in GA may be a nut job, I don’t know. However, I’m working with two other states today, that want to put their working accounts in gold/silver 140-300 mil, they came to me and said ‘how do we do this’. You should check your facts before criticizing the sound money so strongly, Ron Paul is an advocate for competing currency NOT a 100% return to an old time gold standard—that is you have the option to use it if you want. Also gold on the gov. accounting books is currently valued at $35 oz, if they revalued it up to current prices, it would effectively wipe out much of this country’s debt, which is something I know they (gov) is also looking at today. I love your post and the comments, I’ve been reading a lot like them! But really, the problem of 14 trillion in paper debt is just going to get bigger until there is a default, just like all the other paper currencies throughout history. When you can print and spend as much as you want…well no one, no gov. ever stops spending.
    Mark

    • Well, the first thing to remember is that no other country in the world has their currency tied to a particular standard like gold, so therefore, we’re all in the same boat. Second, “money” in and of itself is an abstract concept. A very useful concept, but still an abstract. It has – and gold itself, even – no intrinsic value. It’s something we’ve arbitrarily assigned a value to. X amount of this item can be exchanged for Y amount of something else. You also seem to be, speaking of doing your research, unaware of the role of the Federal Reserve. They control the amount of money in circulation – it’s not just a matter of “running the printing presses.”

      • Yes, correct all the fiat currencies are sort of in the same sinking boat, right now….no doubt!
        I’m keenly aware of the Fed.
        The issue between paper money and gold is today as it has always been, the supply of that yellow commodity can only grow at a rate of about 3% per year. You can’t print it or create it in a lab. Growth in supply is always limited to how much new metal can be mined from the earth (it is physically impossible to get more) and that has been for decades only about 3% per year. Further you can’t destroy gold, so all the gold ever taken from the earth is still here (except for that circling the earth). Silver can be destroyed, a chemical process like making film actually destroys silver, gold NOT so. Again, this makes the supply of gold in the entire world, pretty steady year in and year out. This permits anyone in the world to gauge the value of other things (such as man made items) against the steady supply of gold. Gold makes a good currency for these reasons, no you certainly can’t eat it but if you decide to trade it for food, since the amount of gold is limited and rare, it is likely to hold its value against other items…such as food. I don’t want a 100% gold standard, no one wants to go back to the dark ages, on this we agree. However, we could remove the legal tender laws, drop the big tax on metals and permit those who wish to use it– to do so. This is Ron Paul’s competing currency bill. If I want to hold gold in my bank and not that <1% yielding CD, I should be permitted to do so without getting whacked on the tax. The funds you have in that CD will buy you much less one year from now, as compared to the money I have in gold, that gold value will stay pretty constant against other goods including food and oil, the two things I need each day. So all we are saying is let us save and use gold for this without being taxed 35% when converting gold to paper money. That tax makes precious metal as an asset very difficult to use in everyday business. Competition in currency should be viewed as a good thing.
        Great blog by the way and happy new year to all of you.
        Mark

        • All you are doing is substituting one commodity for another which you are tying to an arbitrary “value.” You might note that you’ve suggested – whether you realize it or not – that you float the value of your money since you suggested that the country’s gold stock be valued at the current gold price. Which, you might also want to note means that the value of said stock has decreased since 1980 in dollar terms. While the price went up 95%, the actual (accounting for inflation) value went down. So, if you wish to invest in gold, even without taxes, you would have lost value over the past 30 years. So your constant value idea actually failed.

          The amount of money is – in any event – is based on goods and services available – the GNP. Now, what you’re suggesting is that we tie it to a metal which is mostly not in this country, and whose current value is less than it was 30 years ago, based on the idea that it's a finite level – which, in the long run is actually limiting of growth. Good move. 🙂 Practically speaking, you can work out with any individual what you want to exchange for goods and services. If you feel like (and the other person agrees) exchanging X amount of wheat for a vehicle repair, that’s fine. It’s inconvenient has hell, but it can be done. Which, of course, is why money came into being in the first place.

  10. During the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, gold was valued at $35 an ounce, and yes De Gaulle stuck it to the US in the mid-sixties by trying to exchange dollars for gold (something he backed off on once he made his point). The problem was that the dollar became the global reserve currency, meaning that a lot of dollars were created simply to facilitate trade between other countries. That didn’t lead to inflation in the US because the dollars were primarily used for global exchange, but it did mean that there were a lot more dollars than could be covered by our gold reserves. That was clear in the 50s.

    Moreover, economists had a very strong argument for allowing currencies to float. That would create economic consequences to policies that would help correct imbalances. If a country ran a current account deficit, its currency would lose value, it could no longer buy as many foreign goods, and its own goods would become cheaper for foreigners. The market would be trusted, rather than the government (which is the ultimate irony of the gold standard folk — Ron Paul claims to be a libertarian, but floating exchange rates rely more on the market).

    Now, the US has been able to resist pressures to alter policy because of the dollar’s global role and foreign willingness to buy bonds and dollars despite our current account deficits of recent years. Clearly monetary policy is complex. But in a global system choosing an arbitrary commodity and tying all currencies to that — be it a metal or a rock or anything — is more constraining and limiting. But it might lead to a resurgence in the lost art of alchemy.

    • Excellent summary of the history, 🙂 What it does point out is that the locking the dollar into a specific commodity is not exactly something that’s necessarily beneficial to the country or the global economy.

      One the more “constitutional” note, what I keep seeing is that the gold/silver standard people are misreading the clause to see it as a limit on the national government, when it’s very clearly a limit on state governments.

  11. Great reply from Scott.

    <>>No, Gold holds it’s value…that is –value in other goods and services.
    A barrel of oil in 1948 costs .06 ounces, that same barrel in 2010 costs .06 ounces of gold. http://www.dowgoldzoom.com/chart_yearly_oil_gold.shtml
    1946 Price of oil was $1.63 U.S. dollars
    2010 today’s price is around $70-80 a barrel
    How is gold losing value? If you put half of your life saving in gold bullion in the 1960’s and half in dollars, what could you spend to more goods and services today? Gold or dollars? The value of gold stays pretty constant to other goods and services over a lifetime. This works for the price of a house, car or even a suit.
    “…choosing an arbitrary commodity and tying all currencies to that — be it a metal or a rock or anything — is more constraining and limiting…”
    >>>>Yes, we all agree on that one. But, that’s what they are trying to do right? None of us want that or agree on it, I’m just saying that’s their goal with a limited commodity backed money.

    Norbrook: “..what you’re suggesting is that we tie it to a metal…”
    No, please read my words, I’ve never suggested we tie the dollar’s value to anything. I have not been in favor of any “gold standard” nor is anyone I know, you see this black or white, gold or paper but it’s not that… competing currency allows people to chose. If a state government wants to accept gold or silver based on the daily spot price for the payment of certain taxes along with dollars (as usual) or hold some of their daily accounts in metal and not dollars the state government should be allowed to vote that in as law. The Constitution does not permit the Federal Gov to prevent this– Again it’s not forcing people to use gold, it does not make metal legal tender forcing anyone to accept it, it drops legal tender laws permitting people to use it… it’s both along side each other.

     

    • No, what I said was there was no law preventing you from choosing whatever method of exchange you wish – but, as is very clearly printed on the money, it’s a valid item for all debts public or private.

      Now, the problem with the Georgia legislation, and why it’s particularly stupid, is that he has specified that the tax bills must be paid for in US coins which contain gold or silver. The said value of the metal (which does fluctuate considerably, btw) is not what is the face value of the coins are – which is what they’re “worth” in public exchange. It is not if you read it, allowing them to hold it in bullion or metal, and specifying that tax bills must be paid for in that metal at current market value.