Catalyst House

U.S. govt out to make forms of bartering illegal?

The U.S government may be positioning to establish private currency barter of any sort as an unlawful transaction, pursuant to a recent criminal conviction of Liberty Dollar’s founder Bernard Von NotHaus for “counterfeiting” and “conspiracy,” supposedly intending to illegally mint and replace US currency with a private one using silver and gold-based coins and silver-backed paper dollars.

See – Liberty Dollars Creator Convicted of Federal Crimes

And the US Attorney in charge of von NotHaus’s successful prosecution, is now parlaying the conviction to say that this ruling sets forth a precedent against “…any private barter transactions that use any form of currency besides established Federal Reserve Notes and U.S. minted coins.”

The federal government also is seeking to take permenant receipt of eight tons of silver and gold ($7+ Million dollars) bullion and silver ‘Liberty Dollars’ that were minted and sold by von NotHaus.

Liberty Dollars were the most successful of the new generation of private barter currencies, but the concept of utilizing private currency for barter transactions is not new, and in fact is currently being done in a growing number of markets around the country. In Ithaca New York for instance, a group of businesses established their own decades-old barter notes known as ‘Ithaca Dollars,’ and thousands of local businesses and professionals use the Ithaca local currency in leiu of U.S. legal tender.

Among the largest of local currencies is BerkShares, launched five years ago in the rural Berkshires area of southern Massachusetts. Nearly $2 million worth of local currency is circulating among businesses and private individuals, said Susan Witt, who sits on the board of the BerkShares program. (See: ‘A Day in the Life of a BerkShare’ by Bill McKibbin at Yes!)

Writes Kenneth Schortgen Jr in the –

“An attempt by the U.S. prosecutor to use a single court case to establish a new precident of law in regards to barter and currency gives warning to the states and the public that any course of action towards removing themselves from federal control over economic and monetary policies will be met with force and or prosecution,”

From UK’s Daily Mail

Federal prosecutors on Monday tried to take a hoard of silver “Liberty Dollars” worth about $7 million that authorities say was invented by an Indiana man to compete with U.S. currency.

Bernard von NotHaus, 67, was convicted last month in federal court in Statesville on conspiracy and counterfeiting charges for making and selling the currency, which he promoted as inflation-proof competition for the U.S. dollar.

Von NotHaus’s Charlotte-based defense attorney, Aaron Michel, is appealing that verdict. He wrote in a motion filed Thursday that ” Von NotHaus did nothing wrong because he didn’t try to pass the Liberty Dollars off as U.S. dollars.”

Von NotHaus has argued it’s not illegal to create currency to privately trade goods and services. He also has said his organization took pains to say the Liberty Dollars shouldn’t be called “coins” and shouldn’t be presented as government-minted cash.

The concerns raised by von NotHaus and his group are finding resonance among some state lawmakers, too. About a dozen states have legislation that would allow them to produce their own currency backed by gold or silver in the event of hyperinflation striking the U.S. dollar.

Von NotHaus is currently free on bond. If the conviction against him is upheld, he faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $750,000. A sentencing date has not been set yet.

Von NotHaus talked about the case with a Michigan NBC station

“People are interested in their money and when they know they’re getting screwed, they get real interested in their money and that’s why the government cracked down on Liberty Dollar.”

In 2010, NBC25 did a series of stories on this competing currency with thousands of people liking it and sharing it on Facebook.  Liberty Dollar says its product is different from and superior to U.S. legal tender because it’s inflation-proof and based on the value of precious metals.

“In the last 10 years, the Liberty Dollar went from a $10 base to a $50 base. It increased in value 500%. The other currency in the last ten years lost 50% of its purchasing power,” says von NotHaus. “How can a counterfeit be worth more than the original?”

Is it true, as U.S. Attorney Tompkins’ asserts, that selling gold and silver is an “act of terrorism” that “represents a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country?” This contention contradicts the U.S. government’s past inaction on this issue as well as centuries of private currency barter.

Offering a competing currency to the US Dollar challenges “the legitimacy of our democratic form of government”?

Does this sound like the land of the free and the home of the brave?

“Give me a break,” writes new analyst and veteran reporter John Stossel

“Competing with U.S. Government money is illegal. But it shouldn’t be.  The Cleveland Federal Reserve states that private currencies have even helped the economy function in the past: During the Great Depression, the Federal Reserve failed to keep enough currency in the economy – so some companies issued their own currencies and helped fill the void.”

Writes Simon Black at

The Justice Department views these ‘Liberty Dollars’ as an attempt by terrorists to undermine the US dollar.

Interesting choice of words. Undermine? “verb [transitive]. to erode the base or foundation of something. to damage or weaken, especially gradually. ”

Funny, this sounds a lot more like quantitative easing than anything else. Ben Bernanke, in creating trillions of new dollars and debasing the value thereof, is guilty of the same insidious acts, and similarly, he represents a clear and present danger to the economic stability of the United States.

Somehow, though, I doubt that Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano or Attorney General Eric Holder will end up labeling Mr. Bernanke as a domestic terrorist.

Von NotHaus faces up to 15 years in prison on one count and 5 years on two others. Punitively, this is more serious than engaging in female genital mutilation (5-years, section 116 of Title 18, US Code), certain types of assault (as little as six months, section 113), or, ironically, bank robbery (10-years, section 2113b).

The US government obviously has its priorities straight.

As for the total amount of Von NotHaus’ gold and silver booty? A whopping $7 million, roughly .000083% of Bernanke’s $8.4 trillion money supply. Von NotHaus was so insignificant he wasn’t even in the ballpark of a rounding error. By definition, this couldn’t possibly constitute a danger to the economy.

Realistically, the government’s 6-year effort to bring him down had one single purpose: to send a message. Uncle Sam is telling us very clearly, “You WILL use our rapidly depreciating dollars… and anything we don’t like in our sole discretion, we will label as domestic terrorism.”

If safeguarding the purchasing power of savings is considered domestic terrorism, what else is considered terrorism? I think this also begs the question of whether gold and silver confiscation is on the table… I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In the meantime, gold and silver settled at record prices today while the value of the dollar continued to plummet.


lynnea2 The BoardLynnea Bylund is a Director of Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, founder of Catalyst House and has nearly three decades of experience in administration, marketing and business development. She was a nationally recognized spokeswoman for the emerging alternative video and information delivery industries. She has a degree in holistic health-nutrition from the legendary and controversial health educator and activist Dr. Kurt Donsbach, she is the founder of two not-for-profit small business-based wireless trade associations and has lobbied on Capitol Hill and at the FCC where she has spoken out strongly against the cable TV monopoly, illegal spectrum warehousing and ill-conceived congressional schemes to auction our nation’s precious airwaves to the highest bidder.

Ms. Bylund is a founder and former CEO of a Washington DC telecommunications consulting and management company with holdings in several operating and developmental wireless communications systems and companies. In 1995 Lynnea became the first female in the world to be awarded a Broadband PCS operating permit – she was one of only 17 winners, along with Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon in the biggest cash auction in world history, raising a whopping $8 billion. Lynnea also spear-headed the successful effort to launch the first cable TV network in the South Pacific islands.
… > Follow Lynnea on:  +LynneaBylund – Twitter – LinkedIn – FaceBook – Pinterest & YouTube


Catalyst House