Bernard von NotHaus, Awaiting Sentencing for Competing with the Federal Reserve with a Hard Money "Liberty Dollar"


Bernard von NotHaus, maker, seller, and advocate of metal rounds under the name "Liberty Dollar" for them that might want to own metal rounds, continues to be persecuted by the U.S. government, and his tale makes the New York Times today. Excerpts with commentary:

Bernard von NotHaus…is a professed "monetary architect" and a maker of custom coins found guilty last spring of counterfeiting charges for minting and distributing a form of private money called the Liberty Dollar.

Described by some as "the Rosa Parks of the constitutional currency movement," Mr. von NotHaus managed over the last decade to get more than 60 million real dollars' worth of his precious metal-backed currency into circulation across the country — so much, and with such deep penetration, that the prosecutor overseeing his case accused him of "domestic terrorism" for using them to undermine the government.

if you ask him…he will give a different account of what occurred.

"This is the United States government," he said in an interview last week. "It's got all the guns, all the surveillance, all the tanks, it has nuclear weapons, and it's worried about some ex-surfer guy making his own money? Give me a break!"….

At 68, Mr. von NotHaus faces more than 20 years in prison for his crimes, and this decisive chapter of his tale has come, coincidentally, at a moment when his obsessions of 40 years — monetary policy, dollar depreciation and the Federal Reserve Bank — have finally found their place in the national discourse.

Indeed they have, thanks to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who understands as von NotHaus does that metals have a better track record at maintaining longterm value than government fiat paper. (See my book Ron Paul's Revolution.)

I'm surprised the Times's reporter apparently got von NotHaus to use the word "coins" since whether or not these were meant to emulate U.S. coins was such a sticking point in his legal travails. He would always insist to me when we spoke that his Liberty Dollars were to be called "rounds," and were a "voluntary private barter currency," a phrase that appeared on the rounds in later mintings.

Details on how vonNotHaus ended up in legal trouble, which shows that it was having anti-government attitudes and "links," not his alleged "crime," behind the prosecution/persecution:

Mr. von NotHaus placed a toll-free number and a URL address on the currency he produced. If people mistakenly got hold of it, they could mail it back to Evansville and receive its equivalent in actual dollar bills.

Now jump ahead to 2004. A detective in Asheville, N.C., learned one day that a client of a credit union had to tried to pass a "fake coin" at one its local branches. An investigation determined that some business acquaintances of Mr. von NotHaus were, court papers say, allied with the sovereign citizens' movement, an antigovernment group.

Federal agents infiltrated the Liberty Dollar outfit as well as its educational arm, Liberty Dollar University.

In 2006, with millions of the coins in circulation in more than 80 cities, the United States Mint sent Mr. von NotHaus a letter advising that the use of his currency "as circulating money" was a federal crime.

He ignored this advice,and in 2007, federal agents raided the offices in Evansville, seizing, among other things, copper dollars embossed with the image of Mr. [Ron] Paul.

Two years later, Mr. von NotHaus was arrested on fraud and counterfeiting charges, accused of having used the Liberty Dollar's parent corporation — Norfed, the National Organization for Repeal of the Federal Reserve — to mount a conspiracy against the United States.

Von NotHaus, still free awaiting sentencing, has a warning:

"The thing that fires me up the most," he will say, "is this is what happens: When money goes bad, people go crazy. Do you know why? Because they can't exist without value. Value is intrinsic in man."

When the initial raid on von NotHaus' operations happened, in mid-November 2007, an ounce of silver was worth around $14.50 in "real" U.S. currency. Today, $32.14. Gold was worth around $790; today, $1711.90.

The dollar of 2007, meanwhile, according to this inflation calculator, is worth just 93 cents now. Just sayin', as the kids just say.

I have written previously here at Reason about von Nothaus' doings and travails, including the initial raid and his conviction,