By Paul Hein
We spoke in an earlier essay of the dollar, which had always been defined in law as a quantity, by weight, or gold and silver in coin form. Let’s look at the dollar a little more closely.
Truth in advertising is a wonderful thing, most of us would agree. Black’s Law Dictionary says that to advertise is “to give public notice.” Shouldn’t that notice be true? When a soap manufacturer advertises that his jumbo size package contains twice as much soap, shouldn’t that be true? When an automobile manufacturer claims that his latest model gives 10% better fuel mileage, shouldn’t that be true?
Now take a good look at a Federal Reserve Note. Presumably its manufacturer intends to “give public notice” by the inscriptions which it bears. Well, what do those inscriptions say? First we see that the paper bears, once in very large type and once in small, the word “note.” We turn again to the law dictionary for the definition of “note:”
A unilateral instrument containing an express and absolute promise of signer to pay to a specified person or order, or bearer, a definite sum of money at a specified time.
Now does the Federal Reserve Note contain any stipulation of what is to be paid to whom? You will not find any promise to pay any amount of anything to anyone on the Federal Reserve Notes printed in recent years. In the unlikely event that you have a quite old note which in fact promises to pay a bearer a unit of gold upon demand, why then you actually possess a genuine note–except that you won’t get the gold, which it promises to pay. In other words, as regards the inscriptions upon Federal Reserve currency, there are two possibilities. Most of the “notes” are fraudulently labeled, not being genuine notes at all; while those which are in the form of genuine notes are also a sham, inasmuch as the solemn promise made upon them by the government of the United States is not honored. Thus the government is totally contemptuous of those standard of truth in advertising which it upholds against individuals and corporations–except only the Federal Reserve System, which is privately owned.
How can anyone honestly file a 1040?
Let’s look now at the word “dollar,” which, by my count, occurs once on each side of the bill. It is such an important word, used so often every day in so many important ways, that it should be clearly defined somewhere. You will recall the concerned citizen mentioned earlier who wrote to the Internal Revenue Service, a branch of the U.S. Treasury, to request the definition of the word “dollar.”
His thought was that since citizens are required to provide sworn statements (1040 form) to the government setting forth the “true, complete, and correct” amount of their income in dollars, and that such statements are to be according to the citizen’s best “knowledge and belief,” the definition of the word “dollar” should not be a matter of conjecture or guesswork, but rather of clearly stated law. He was rather surprised to learn from the IRS that there is no definition of the word “dollar” in the Internal Revenue Code. Another request, again asking the definition, from any source, in U.S. law, was ignored. Government agents, testifying under oath in court, have admitted that there is no definition of “dollar.” Treasury Department executives have acknowledged in writing that Federal Reserve Notes are not dollars.
The term is meaningless.
Does that surprise you? It really shouldn’t. In everyday language, we speak of dollars as equivalent to amounts of money. Thus, a large number written on a price tag, preceded by a dollar sign, is interpreted as a “lot of money.” The question, “How much money does that cost?” is always answered in terms of dollars. For this reason, there cannot be a definition of dollar today. For if there were, it would have to include two aspects. First, it would have to set forth just what the money is; and second, it would have to define the quantity of that money to be designated a “dollar.” For example, as we have seen, when money was 90% silver coin, the dollar quantity was 412.5 grains.
When the weight of the coin was reduced through wear to 409 grains, the coin was no longer legal tender for a dollar, although it could still pay debts in proportion to its weight. But today there is no thing which is used as money. And if money is not a measurable thing, how can there be a specific quantity of it? The significance of this is mind-boggling. We have seen how the lack of a definition of the word “dollar” makes the terms of almost all contracts indefinite, when they certainly ought to be specific. What I should like to point out to you now is that it is all totally unnecessary for this confusion to exist. Indeed, the fact that this confusion does plague us would almost seem to be deliberate. And here is why I say that: let us return to the days when our money was gold and the paper currency redeemable in gold.
The money (i.e., the gold) is expressed in units called dollars which, for the sake of simplicity, we shall define as 10 grains of pure gold. If, now, the government issued more currency than it could redeem (in other words, counterfeited) no one might be the wiser, but if the practice were continued to the point of arousing the suspicions of the people, the government would face the embarrassment of being caught in the act by a “run on the bank.” This embarrassment could easily be avoided by merely redefining the word “dollar” as, let’s say, 5 grains of gold. With the passage of this law, the government would have doubled its supply of “dollars.”
Then, when you took your paycheck to the bank, you would get exactly the number of dollars that you did before. (If you did not redeem the currency, you would notice no difference whatsoever; you would get the same lovely banknotes promising to pay dollars of gold.) Only if you redeemed the currency would you discover that you were getting exactly half the money (gold) that you had gotten the week before. Thus, you would suffer a loss of fifty percent of your income, and you would have no recourse whatever, because you were getting the same number of dollars called for in your contract.
The significance of weight
The question you might ask yourself is, “Is this all just some unfortunate quirk of fate, or am I being robbed?” It all hinges on that word “dollar.” Do you know of anything other than money which is measured in dollars? Hamburger? Lumber? No, not even gold and silver are measured in dollars, except when used as money. When a jeweler orders gold, he orders it by the grain or ounce. And of course, innumerable other substances are measured in those units. Only the banker, with the connivance of the government, provided precious metals in “dollars.” Thus, when necessary, the term “dollar” can be re-defined with little or no notice being taken of the fact, even though that definition is so momentous because it means that you are being cheated of what you expected to receive for your labor.
Now let’s suppose that the government, which is concerned with truth in advertising, labeled its currency and money as accurately as it insists that cornflakes be labeled. Gold coins would be labeled “gold .999 pure, 20 grains.” Or “silver .90 pure, 412.5 grains.” Your contract would stipulate that you were to receive so many grains or ounces of gold or silver per week. Your rent–indeed, all prices and fees and charges — would be set forth in grains or ounces. Contracts also would stipulate exactly what was to be paid. No politicians could reduce what you were to receive in payment by the stroke of a pen. The word “dollar” would have no relevance in such an economy. The government could attempt, I suppose, to stretch its supply of gold be re-defining the word “grain” or “ounce,” but that would cause such pandemonium as to be unthinkable. In fact, it would instantly alert people as to what the government was about. It might even make them laugh at the government; and a government which is not taken seriously by its people is in trouble indeed.
In 1792, inflation was capital offense
Conversely, a government which can pay its debts with anything it chooses to label “dollar” without ever being required to define the term, is a government which can do exactly what it wishes without any accountability to the people whose wealth it does not need for its operations. The only thing such a government need fear is even a small percentage of the people awakening to what is happening.
Remember, the founding fathers took so seriously this matter of having a clearly understood definition of the money that in the Coinage Act of 1792 they established the death penalty for anyone found guilty of debasing the money. Obviously, you cannot debase the money unless there is some standard by which to measure it. Our present monetary system is clearly not that envisioned or intended by the Constitution.
Note: You can calculate paper money into various gold and silver coins at a website endorsed by Franklin Sanders, the Moneychanger, in Highpoint,Tenn. It is Silverandgoldaremoney.com.