Idaho's plan to downgrade the dollar

A bill to allow citizens to pay their taxes with silver medallions gains support. Goldbugs are watching closely

Published March 15, 2010 11:16PM (EDT)

With only one state representative dissenting, the Idaho House State Affairs committee voted on Monday to endorse HB 633, a bill that would allow Idaho citizens to pay their state taxes with an official state silver medallion.

The news comes just a month after a South Carolina legislator introduced a bill seeking to ban Federal currency altogether, and replace the upstart greenback with gold or silver coins. A half-dozen other states have considered similar legislation, reports the Tenth Amendment Center. But there's a key difference between the Idaho plan and the bills proposed in other states, most of which fall somewhere on a spectrum ranging from Tea Party rage to Ron Paul goldbug-ism. (The South Carolina bill, for example, claims that "the State is experiencing an economic crisis of severe magnitude caused in large part by the unconstitutional substitution of Federal Reserve Notes for silver and gold coin as legal tender in this State.")

In contrast, the sponsor of the Idaho bill, Republican Phil Hart, seems to be marshalling wide support by crafting legislation that is straight out industrial policy aimed at boosting Idaho's silver industry. The text of the bill is quite clear.

The intent of this act is to use the abundant silver resources of the state of Idaho to create a means whereby the people of Idaho can pay their taxes to the state using silver mined from the ground of Idaho, processed in Idaho and finally minted into a medallion in Idaho. It is the intent of the Legislature to create mining jobs in Idaho while giving the people of Idaho a means to store their wealth in a precious metal that is immune from the effects of inflation while complying with the mandates of our federal Constitution.

The Idaho bill therefore incorporates tax incentives for silver processors located in Idaho.

From The Idaho Reporter:

That, Hart believes, could bring hundreds, if not thousands of jobs to the state. In conjunction with the creation of the medallion, Hart's bill would also try to lure silver processing companies to Idaho, and in particular, north Idaho, which, according to Hart, was once called "the silver capital of the world." The bill would give companies that come to Idaho to process silver for the medallion a 10-year exemption from income taxes, as well as property taxes. The exemption would be open for 20 years and would sunset after that period of time.

Hart believes one of the advantages of silver is that it would resist inflationary pressure better than paper money. But since states aren't allowed to mint their own money, the value of the silver medallion will have to fluctuate according to market forces. In just the last ten years, the value of an ounce of silver has zig-zagged between four and twenty dollars.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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