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by Harold Christopher1
In his regular JUBILEE column (pg. 20),2 Bruce McCarthy3 stresses the necessity of beginning to practically apply "lawful trade" as per the Scriptures, in our everyday lives. I wish to offer a "second witness" in this regard.
Recently my wife, my five children, and myself4 had the opportunity to take a 4,300 mile round trip from central Texas to an area in Northern Oregon, where we attended a Feast of Passover gathering.
Inasmuch as we had previously taken two or three shorter trips using only silver, we decided to see if we could make the journey without any checks, credit cards, or federal reserve notes. I left Texas without any of the aforementioned credit instruments,5 and we found that we were able to acquire all needful products and services using only lawful money. We were able to negotiate for gasoline at over 20 stops as well as one motel, 3 or 4 grocery stores, and 2 restaurants. We averaged over 500 miles per day travel.
We relied on listings for "Room and Board" in the Pipeline directory6 and are very appreciative of hospitality received. With the exception of a "dry spell" of non-acceptance on one stretch of interstate, we were generally able to make purchases of required products and services at about one-half of the stops we made. I feel that much of this was attributable to the Father preparing hearts along the way and guiding us along.7
I would encourage people to begin to utilize some lawful money for everyday living. It's not as hard as you may think, and some day, you just might be glad you got some early practice.8 Try a few local merchants, then spread out and "paint yourself into a corner" by taking a weekend trip with a friend or your spouse, taking no credit instruments9 along. Next time you go out to eat, look for a restaurant which will trade in silver with you. If you are on the go a lot, when you stop at a cafe for orange juice, milk or coffee, in a friendly manner10 ask to see the owner or manager, and see if you can buy the drink for a silver mercury dime. I find about 75 percent of them say "OK,"11 and you have now opened the door for a future visit.12
A few hints might be of some practical use at this point:
1. When possible, stop at privately-owned mom and papa establishments, as large franchise/corporate-type establishments and convenience stores with 19-year-old clerks, most often have trouble dealing with such a thing.13
2. Try and see the owner or manager (be courteous), or get to an interested party who has the power to make a decision.
3. Allow yourself a little leeway; start looking for gasoline or the needed service while you still have several gallons, or otherwise are not in dire need.
4. Have a variety of silver pieces to deal with. The most popular items seem to be:
a) One oz. silver rounds.
b) 90% silver halves (particularly the old walking-liberty type with an eagle on the back).
c) New U.S. Treasury pieces Ä one troy-oz. "Silver Eagles."
d) Old U.S. 90% silver dollars (commonly called cart-wheels).
e) Mercury dimes -- 90% silver.
5. Be positive, upbeat, and courteous. Most of us have sold something before. You are just trying to sell a couple of oz. of silver and be paid in 10-15 gallons of gasoline.14
6. Be a good witness15; pass out some literature on lawful trade, and if someone is willing to listen, know enough about the subject of lawful money and U.S. credit/debt instruments to help them begin to think about the subject.16
7. Be generous in your dealing,17 be willing to negotiate on the worth of your silver as the value you place on the item or service you require. Also, have a few suggestions on what a person can do with the lawful money he has acquired, such as:
a) Wedding, holiday, graduation gift. b) Trading at flea markets.
c) Bonus or performance recognition gifts for good employees.
d) Save it for the kids or grandkids.
e) Introduce them to the concept of spending it back into circulation with another local merchant or via the Pipeline directory.
8. When possible, cultivate the relationship by returning again, or dropping the merchant a "thank you" note.18
I believe that as Babylon tightens her noose, you will be glad you began to place some of the Father's Law into practice in this manner.
There are people who already are trying to purge their lives of abominable practices. When we try to follow God's Law, we will be amazed at the unanticipated advantages. We will gain the character of Christ.
I want to try to do this. I am at this point quite alone in this desire. If you find something interesting about this booklet, I would love to hear from you. I need a few encouraging words.
If you find something off-the-wall and offensive in this booklet, I would like to hear that too. It's more encouraging to have someone take an interest in you than to be ignored. I would really love to hear your comments. Please write to me:
Orange Co. Catholic Worker
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(1) This article was reprinted in a tabloid called ALERT (September, 1992, No. 95, p. 5) published by Barrister's Inn School of Common Law, P.O. Box 9411, Boise, Idaho, 83707. ALERT is a right-wing tax protester newspaper. While the article is an excellent demonstration of the workability and practicality of obeying God's Law by cleansing our homes of federal reserve notes, I do not agree with their strategy of tax resistance. My desire to live without using Federal Reserve Notes is not motivated by a desire to avoid taxes. By living in voluntary poverty for over 15 years, I have not paid a dime in income taxes.
(2) This article, reprinted by ALERT, was originally published in The Jubilee, P.O. Box 310, Midpines, CA 95345. Jubilee is a White-separatist paper, often blaming our nation's problems on "Jewish bankers." My motivation for not using Federal Reserve Notes has nothing to do with "anti-Semitism."
(3) McCarthy is a Christian who argues from the Bible that Christians should not use Federal Reserve Notes, and from the U.S. Constitution that such notes are not "lawful money."
(4) It is particularly noteworthy that this strategy is being undertaken by a family. A single person would have far fewer worries (excuses) to deter him from boldly following the Scriptures. Many men with families resist changing their way of doing things because change involves risk. A single person cannot make this excuse.
But interestingly, one could imagine circumstances in which this way of life would be more successful for a family man than a single man. A merchant is probably more likely to "strike a deal" with a man who has visible evidence of stability and lack of criminal tendencies, viz., a wife and children. His explanation that he is committed to a Scriptural way of life carries more integrity than a single man who may be attempting to "fence" stolen goods or has some other "scheme" in mind. A family is more likely to meet with success "along the road" than those George Gilder has called "naked nomads."
(5) The author is one of many people who recognize that "Federal Reserve Notes" come into existence only when someone goes into debt, either a private borrower from a state-chartered fractional reserve bank, or the State engaging in the "monetization of debt." Tendering a "Federal Reserve Note" is not a tender of real wealth for someone else's goods or services, but is rather a tender of someone's IOU, an IOU in which there is no guarantee that anyone in particular will ever pay anything in particular; it is an exchange of wealth for a fraudulent promise of dubious value.
Antony Sutton, formerly of the prestigious Hoover Institution at Stanford University, has called attention to the relationship between debt and our debased currency:
Our money system, and almost all money systems in the modern world, are based on debt. One person's paper money or book-entry credit is another person's obligation to pay. The system is predicated on the heroic assumption that people will continue to accept another person's debts as an acceptable recompense.
Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman has described the mythical, circular reasoning surrounding these "credit instruments":
. . . each accepts them [the pieces of paper] because he is confident others will. The pieces of green paper have value because everybody thinks they have value, and everybody thinks they have value because in his experience they have had value.
Sutton answers the obvious question:
What then keeps the Federal Reserve System, which is based on paper debt, in operation? In a word, confidence. The confidence that someone else will accept a worthless piece of paper, created out of nothing and backed by nothing, in exchange for their real tangible objects.
In the final analysis, emphasizes Friedman, acceptance of false weights "is a social convention which owes its very existence to the mutual acceptance of what from one point of view is a fiction." Truly, as a nation of debtors, "we have made lies our refuge" (Isaiah 28:15).
(6) The paper in which this article is found adds this: "The Pipeline trade directory is a national listing of individuals and businesses who are willing to trade their goods or services for substance, i.e. gold, silver or other things. For information write Kingdom Restoration Ministries, HC-62, Box 375, Smithville, Oklahoma 74957."
(7) Our debased currency says, "In God We Trust." To live in a world of debased currency and still attempt to "keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27) is to truly put your trust in God. This man's faith is to be emulated.
(8) The author seems convinced that the U.S. currency system is going to collapse, leaving people to learn quickly how to use real money.
(9) Since "Federal Reserve Notes" come into existence only when someone goes into debt, either a private borrower or the State, and tendering a "Federal Reserve Note" is merely exchanging an IOU for someone's goods or services, we are reminded of Romans 13:8 -- "Owe no man anything."
(10) "In a friendly manner. . . ." The whole world wrapped up in four words. Anyone familiar with my past writings for the "Christian Reconstructionists" knows that I have the ability to turn many a phrase which can cut down the "heretics" and ridicule the "anti-Christs." My tone is often cynical, critical, and acidic. It is "preaching to the converted," or more accurately, insulting the "unconverted" for the amusement of the "converted." I am still plagued by this habit.
I need to sit down and map out a strategy, and then flesh out this strategy with a few anticipated dialogues, assembling some useful phrases and conversation starters which I can memorize to help me approach people in a way I've never done before: "in a friendly manner." I must adjust these phrases to approach different people in different circumstances. A few letters might be appropriate to introduce myself to different merchants.
The ability to strike up conversations and put people at ease is a necessary skill in this strategy, as is Creativity. If my analysis of the Bible is correct, and our whole economy is designed to help the rich (and the would-be rich) rule over the poor, and the greedy (those who "buy now") to profit over the thrifty (those who "save for the future"), and even the most Godly of us have become dependent to a degree on this system, then we are all guilty. The message I bring is not calculated to "win friends and influence people." At least at first glance.
But I do believe that if the house is on fire, no more loving message can be brought than that there is an exit prepared by our loving Heavenly Father which takes us out of the burning trap and into a safe, wide open space. We have grown accustomed to the City: impersonalism, "rugged individualism," and statist selfishness. God wishes to restore us to Eden: personalism, community, and the love of Christ. My duty is to bring this message and convey it in a way which does not alienate or offend, but rather invites and persuades.
A "Reconstructionist" could be given no greater and more exciting challenge.
(11) Faith is the key here. Or "optimism." Or, once again, our eschatology.
If we believe that we are in "the last days" of the Old Covenant, rather than the first days of the New Heavens and New Earth, we will not expect Godliness and love from our neighbors. We expect rather a money system with the "mark of the beast" hidden in a UPC symbol. We believe that everyone we meet will reject the Gospel and believe a lie.
But if we expect that God is sending His Spirit to bring conversion when we share a faithful proclamation of the Gospel, then we can expect miracles when any subject of human action is addressed according to God's Word, even the subject of currency debasement. A high percentage of favorable responses to our call for "just weights" can be expected if we take our needs to God in prayer (James 5:16; Proverbs 16:7). (The Biblical basis for evangelistic optimism is found in The Meaning of Vine and Fig Tree, Essays One and Two.)
(12) that is, an on-going personal relationship. An end to anonymity and impersonalism. No more "I'm just here to buy gas and I don't give a wooden nickel about you, your wife, or your children." Economics is no longer a faceless transfer of commodities, but a meeting of hearts and the communion of saints. Our encounters in the market are no longer a puff of smoke, but a bearing of burdens and the extension of Christ's Kingdom.
The communists have correctly analyzed the "alienation" of capitalist society and the selfishness of the "market economy," but their solution involves violent revolution and the imposition of statist dictatorship. The true answer is economics as evangelism. To "evangelize" is to "proclaim the good news," and the good news is the Blessing of a loving personal God through the spread of Christian Personalism.
(13) The 19 year old clerk is another symptom of an impersonalist culture. Relationships are no longer a part of "business." In an earlier, more Christian era, the owner of the store had a stake in the community and was personally involved in the lives of his customers. He was not there simply to vend goods. It was never "strictly business." The modern-day 19 year-old clerk at the self-serve store is nothing more than a human vending machine. The owner no longer cares about the personal needs of his customers. An incompetent or obnoxious clerk is routine, and the owner hardly gives a thought about the impact of such an employee on his good name. Even the concept of a "good name" is no longer familial and personal, but strictly commercial, a creation of the advertising wizards, protected by the legal eagles.
Recognizing the abominable character of modern secular currency forces us to transform economics from faceless and routine transactions to aspects of personal caring relationships with everyone we deal with.
If we were to go back in time 200 years and attempt to exchange our "Federal Reserve Notes" for shoes or coffee, the Christian merchant would ask to know the nature of our "notes." If we were able to explain their nature to him (and most of us couldn't) he would give us a polite lecture on Biblical economics, explaining to us that we have been duped, or that we must be deliberately trying to cheat him. Now, in this apostate generation, we must be the ones who give the lecture. We must talk to the merchants and be "salt and light" (Matthew 5:13-16). We must even begin to prepare ourselves to lift the 19 year-old clerks out of the mire in which the State schools have left them.
(14) It's possible to take a secular, "Constitutional" approach to this, and be "strictly business." While I want to be "positive, upbeat, and courteous," I don't want to reduce this to a novel way to transact ordinary impersonal secular economic activity. I may need to fall back on this approach if I meet with stiff resistance to the Gospel, but I will always move on to the next point: "be a good witness."
(15) Not just to Gold and Silver, but to that which surpasses them in value: God and His Law. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), and so we enter a foreign nation as ambassadors for the Conquering King (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our purpose is to announce the terms of a gracious treaty of surrender, in which the King announces salvation to those who will submit to Him as Lord. Although our currency is hurtful to the poor and an abomination in God's sight, this is no excuse for me to offend people by my lack of charity; if by my rudeness people hesitate to sign Christ's Peace Treaty, then I also am offensive to God (Luke 17:2; 1 Corinthians 10:32-33; 2 Corinthians 6:3).
(16) Know enough, that is, about how debased currency oppresses the poor and encourages violence, covetousness, and lawlessness; enough to help them see their need for the Savior. Know enough about what God has promised us if we are only faithful to His Word, to help them begin to think about the "Vine & Fig Tree" vision (Micah 4:1-5).
(17) This strikes at the heart of modern economics. Unfortunately, this also strikes out at a lot that I have learned from Gary North and the "Reconstructionists." The modern world is governed by caveat emptor: "Let the buyer beware," because I the seller have no responsibility to look out for anyone but numero uno. But the Christian is the bearer of burdens, and is not motivated solely to "buy low and sell high." Our motivation is to meet the needs of others and to help them develop the character of Christ.
I intend to be willing to tack on extra 10-20% just to make it attractive. I think it a good use of resources to "bribe" others into listening to our apologetic for the Kingdom of God, as we explain the Gospel and Biblical Law. In fact, I would say that anyone who is tithing their income to a church which purchased its building on debt, and says nothing about how its interest payments are financing the New World Order, could appropriately spend those tithe monies in a "Just Weights" ministry, in which we make God's law "attractive" by our generosity.
Even for those who will not accept silver or other just weights, I think a 10-20% "gift" might make them more willing to listen next time. Of course, if they force us to transact business with false weights, "restitution" may be a better way to explain the 10% than either "tithing" or "bribery."
An added benefit is found in Jesus' Words: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21). If I "invest" in the life of a local merchant, I have an increased interest in seeing the "investment" pay off. I will begin praying more for him and thinking more about his life than my big-screen TV or bond portfolio.
(18) How many times have I been taught the value of a "thank you" note, but haven't become proficient in the skill? Now my life depends on it. I can't just remain anonymous, but I must cultivate personal relationships with merchants, and with family business entrepreneurs (Proverbs. 31:16,24).
And in all this gracious communication of gratitude, we mix a little evangelism and apologetics!
For Further Reading
Cleansing the Home| | The Ungodliest Man in the World! | | God's Law Concerning Money | | Usury and Unabombers | | What About Borrowing? | | "The Evils of Capitalism" -- Wrong Enemy | | FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING AND VIOLENCE | | Getting out of Paper | | A Purified Life | | The Freemen of Montana
Vine & Fig Tree