Brother, Can You Spare a Doubloon?

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/23912576@N05/2905878206/">Laverrue</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


If Republican state Rep. Mike Pitts has his way in South Carolina, your money will be no good there. Or probably anywhere else. Pitts is taking anti-Obama fervor to its illogical extreme with a proposed law that would ban anyone in the state from accepting US Federal Reserve notes as legal tender. In place of the Benjamins, Pitts would have his fellow citizens trade only in gold or silver coins. Which should thrill Glenn Beck’s remaining advertisers, at least.

“The Germans felt their system wouldn’t collapse, but it took a wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread in the 1930s,” Pitts told CBSNews.com. “The Soviet Union didn’t think their system would collapse, but it did. Ours is capable of collapsing also,” he added, apparently unaware that unilaterally banning the federal currency would be a pretty quick way to collapse the savings of all South Carolinians.

It’s not clear how closely connected Pitts is to any Tea Party groups, but he’s certainly doing their bidding, and not just in advocating a gold (and silver) standard.

One group of “freedom-loving patriots” in Anderson, South Carolina, is praising the legislator for proposing an “excellent collection” of laws intended to eviscerate what it calls “the tyranny of the federal government.” In addition to the currency legislation, he’s sponsoring bills to bar “the United States Congress and all federal agencies” from ever requiring state residents to register firearms; to prevent Washington from ever forming something called a “North American Union” with Canada and Mexico; to keep Social Security numbers from being entered on government forms; and to form a state committee that could remove either of South Carolina’s US senators for voting in ways the committee deems “unconstitutional.”
 
That last proviso seems especially ironic, since it’s not clear how Pitts’ proposals are “pro-Constitution” when each one of them amounts to stick-roasting the nation’s charter document over a flaming can of Sterno. The currency bill, for example, “violates a perfectly legal and constitutional federal law, enacted pursuant to the commerce clause of the US Constitution, that Federal Reserve notes are legal tender for all debts public and private,” an unnamed legal expert told the South Carolina blog that broke news of the bill. The expert added: “We settled this debate in the early 1800s.”
 
Ah. But did we? Pitts’ stunt is part of a broad resurgence in anti-Union, secessionist chatter among conservatives. Secessionism is serious and historic business in South Carolina: This is the state that gave us America’s first guerrilla leader, the Civil War’s first gunshots, and that supreme of Tea Partiers’ symbols, the Gadsden Flag. But it’s also the state that gave us Mark Sanford, his school-lunch-hating lieutenant governor, and a lower recent percentage of high school graduates than 40 other states. All of which suggests that full South Carolinian sovereignty may not be the best-laid of political plans.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate