Be Careful with What You Trade

I’ve heard about people who printed off “money” on their inkjet printer, and then successfully passed off the counterfeit dollars at McDonalds. I’ve also heard about people who invest heavily in more sophisticated counterfeiting operations. The goal in both cases is for the perpetrator to enrich himself with the buying power of real money by producing it all himself. It’s dishonest. It’s also illegal.

But now I’ve heard it all. Someone making an alternative currency has been convicted of… terrorism? Sounds like a real muddle. Without knowing all the facts of the case, I leave open the possibility that the convict was doing something dishonest. It may have even been illegal. But it doesn’t sound like it was the same thing as counterfeiting money, though the conviction has that ring.

It sounds as though the perp was creating a local currency that could be used as an alternative to US dollars. It’s been done before, and apparently is not usually considered a form of terrorism. In fact, I’m told that the old saying about wooden nickels goes back to a local currency in southern Oregon made from myrtle wood. So what’s different this time? For one thing, the charges give the impression that this particular local currency shared too many design similarities with US Treasury money.

The coins were marked with the dollar sign, the words “dollar,” “USA,” “Liberty,” “Trust in God” (instead of “In God We Trust”) and other features associated with legitimate U.S. coins.

I can understand why the US Treasury would want any local currencies to appear completely distinct, and would assume that the jury found these to be confusingly similar. On the other hand, real counterfeit money is always worth less in materials and work than obtaining the actual US money it represents. Otherwise counterfeiting would be a complete waste of time and effort. It sounds like this currency is actually worth more than American money, because it’s minted with valuable metals, which are not subject to having their value erased by inflation.

The government also is seeking the forfeiture of about 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals valued at nearly $7 million.

OK. What should we make of this? A US Attorney described the government’s investigative and prosecution efforts in very strong language: “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.” How does a superior local currency “challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of goverment?”

Answer: it provides a means for some American citizens to safeguard the value stored in their money, in a time when the monetary strategy of the United States is to devalue all of our money in an attempt to shrink the impossibly-large debt burden our government has accumulated, and perhaps lessen the titanic trade imbalance that threatens to destabilize our economy. If certain (i.e. the “wrong”) Americans find a way to preserve the value of their savings over against the rest of the country, then it will throw the whole strategy out of whack, as their economic influence increases disproportionately against the rest. That’s my theory, anyway. I hope expressing it doesn’t amount to terrorism.

Does the monetary policy (when to print, when to retire money, how to introduce it into the economy) of your country fall under the fourth commandment (to obey earthly authorities)? It seems there are laws about money, but there seems to be a gray area here. We must pay our taxes in US Dollars, but is it wrong to barter for everything else? Is it a form of terrorism to use a local currency? Maybe it’s wrong only when your money is better than an inflationary fiat money.

Doublespeak. It’s All Around Us.

And the doublespeak is more culturally pervasive than previously thought. Case in point. See this WSJ article: Wisconsin GOP Ends Union Stalemate. (I love good news.)

It says,

On Wednesday night, Republican senators convened on short notice and removed appropriations items from the bill to allow a vote on the remaining issues–including curbs on the collective-bargaining rights of public-employee unions. The vote to pass the amended bill was 18-1, with no Democratic senators present.

Republicans said they had waited long enough for Democrats to return to Madison. Democrats complained that their political rivals had abused their power. Spectators in the senate gallery screamed, “You are cowards,” while the vote was taken.

While the insane do have a right to scream almost anything they want, this particular scream is masquerading as reasoned political speech. Nothing new here. But for entertainment, let’s see how the statement fits in the context described by the WSJ. This senate was pressing ahead toward a balanced budget, through anti-democratic resistance by irresponsible colleagues, and despite the loud braying of threats by hungry union puppets. Is that really cowardice? No. It’s the exact opposite. Yet I have no doubt that the screamers truly believed their own words. A stunning display of doublespeak.

Meanwhile, three paragraphs down, we hear about those irresponsible colleagues:

Senate Democrats were driving back to Wisconsin after the Republican vote when they thought better of it and decided to remain in exile in Illinois, said Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach. He said they feared that Republicans would reassemble the original bill and force a vote on the whole thing. “We don’t trust them at all,” Mr. Erpenbach said.

Well, I suppose that’s supposed to be bravery. Instead of participating in the democratic legislative process for which they campaigned and were elected, these brave souls think better of returning to the state they serve. Apparently, they think that they might be victimized by the elected majority. In other words, they could lose a vote.

So the doublespeak in this case has risen to plain view. Of course, there is a plot behind the whole story too. Many of those brave senators hiding out in Illinois have most likely been in bed with public employee unions for a long time, a form of political corruption that has been allowed to fester legally for far too long. This symbiotic relationship has provided the unions with lackeys in the legislatures of the country, while keeping those politicians willing to pay the piper in secure political careers. Meanwhile, it’s the taxpayers and union members who really end up paying the piper, as the unions extract dues and taxes, using them to secure their own future, while forcing state and nation in a socialistic and fiscally shaky direction.

This norm of political corruption and doublespeak shows a society badly in need of moral guidance. It’s a good time for Christians to display the kind of “cowardice” recently shown in the Wisconsin senate. In other words, show up to life and defy the fuming threats of our enemy by fulfilling your God-given responsibilities in every aspect of your Christian vocation. We will be maligned. We may be harmed. We could even be put to death. It’s happened before. Yet not even death can deprive a Christian of the true life we already possess in Christ.

Listen to the Mom

My friend The Mom has a great meditative post today on justification and sanctification. Here’s a sample:

One country song in particular got my brain juices going. Writing (and reading) this is probably going to be a lengthier process than the few moments it took for my brain to get through it, but that’s the way brains are. They leap to big realizations in a mere moment’s time.

The song I heard was Awful Beautiful Life by Darryl Worley. The song paints the picture of a regular guy, making regular mistakes and finding joy in regular things.

If you read the rest of her post (via the link above), notice how applicable her line of thinking is to all kinds of people. Maybe even to you. Maybe even to me.

The most frequently-used lyrical songs in my experience these days are hymns. And I suppose theologically-sound, Christ-centered hymns are the best lyrical diet for anyone. Yet we should also take a little time now and then to ruminate on the other things we might hear. Sure, it may have false doctrine in it. (What on the radio, other than Bach night on MPR, doesn’t?) But the exercise of distinguishing the good from the bad can draw us into an edifying train of thought, even repentance and a renewed appreciation for God’s grace.