Prince William Del. Bob Marshall (R) is very concerned that the Federal Reserve System may fail, either through hyperinflation or external attack, causing the U.S. monetary system to collapse. So he has proposed legislation to study the creation of an alternate Virginia currency in gold and silver coins. This bill has already been approved by one House subcommittee and is now headed to the full Rules committee.
Marshall is quite serious about this, and this is the third time he has introduced such a bill, which contains both a history lesson and analysis of the monetary system in the 35 “Whereases” of the preface. The bill does not discuss who might be depicted on the coins, and I told Marshall I did not think the Dave Matthews Band would fit on a coin. He agreed, did not appear to have given much thought to who would appear on the Virginia currency, and said he would appoint me to a committee to study that if the bill passes.
Marshall said, “The stability of our money system can be undermined in any number of ways,” and his bill cites hyperinflation or another Great Depression as possible causes. He also noted that the Pentagon has been studying and preparing for “how they can deal with economic warfare attacks.”
The Post’s Ben Pershing reports that some Democrats think spending money on this is a waste of time. But the veteran Prince William lawmaker has lined up a number of supporters who think Virginia would be doing an excellent thing by planning for the collapse of the currency that forms the backbone of the world economy. For a look at them, and a discussion of who should be on the new Virginia money, head to the jump and then add your nominations.
Marshall has gathered enthusiastic endorsements from a number of economists, many of them prominent in the push to return the United States to the gold standard, including Lewis E. Lehrman, a historian, economic writer and author of “The True Gold Standard.” Judy Shelton, Ralph Benko, George Melloan and James Grant, all prominent authors and financial journalists, and George Mason economics professor Lawrence White also support Marshall.
“It would be exceptionally apt for the Commonwealth of Virginia to take a leading role in the reconsideration of national monetary policy,” Benko wrote to Marshall.
Some have noted that Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution says that “No State shall...coin money.” But the article then adds that states shall not “make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” Marshall’s bill argues that clause, and some 19th century Supreme Court rulings, make Virginia coins legal tender.
The bill proposes to study the creation of a joint subcommittee ”to study whether the Commonwealth should adopt an alternate medium of commerce or currency to serve as an alternative to the currency distributed by the Federal Reserve System in the event of a major breakdown of the Federal Reserve System.” He would limit the amount spent on the study to $22,560.
[UPDATE, Monday, 1 p.m.: The amended version passed by the Rules subcommittee, and not yet available online, eliminates many of the “Whereases,” reduces the amount spent to $13,680 (?), and proposes to study the “feasibility of a United States money unit” in the event of federal collapse, though it also intends to examine “establishing a metallic-based money unit to serve as a contingency currency for the Commonwealth.”]
So this subcommittee will have to consider what the Virginia currency will look like. I think this breaks down into several groups:
Founding Father Types: Folks on current American coins and bills are ineligible. But we’ve still got Patrick Henry, James Madison, George Mason and John Marshall. Meaningful but boring.
Southern War Hero Types: For those who got left off the last Virginia alternate money, the Confederate States of America currency, we've got Light Horse Harry Lee, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. If Virginia really wants to declare its uniqueness from America, this is the way to go. Again.
Contemporary Conservative Types: More recent figures willing to take on the liberal U.S. establishment include states rights backers and U.S. Sens. Harry F. Byrd and Carter Glass (EXCEPT Glass helped create the Federal Reserve!), university founders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, buried in Norfolk, who told a Democratic president to take a hike. And was relieved of duty.
Who Should Really Be On There:
Virginia has plenty more luminaries who have made significant contributions outside the fields of politics and war. Here’s who should be on each coin:
Quarter: Moses Malone, Petersburg. Top basketball player ever from Virginia. One of top 50 NBA players of all time. Never fouled out.
Dollar: Patsy Cline, Winchester. One of the all-time memorable voices in country music. Died young, tragically.
Five Dollar: Tom Wolfe, Richmond. Innovative journalist and author. Wrote many modern classics. Wore white in all seasons.
Ten Dollar: Dave Grohl, Springfield. Greatest rock and roll product of the Commonwealth. Drummed on most important rock record of last quarter century. Now a film director.
Twenty Dollar: Arthur Ashe, Richmond. Groundbreaking tennis player and civil rights activist. Also died young, tragically.
Fifty Dollar: Lawrence Taylor, Williamsburg. Possibly the greatest defensive football player ever. Probably preferred to see his face on a bill rather than a coin. Sorry.
Hundred Dollar: Clarence Clemons, Chesapeake. The Big Man. Often mentioned as a presidential candidate. Brought the saxophone, and Bruce Springsteen, to a wider audience. A uniter.
Honorable mentions/possible flip side of coins: Pearl Bailey, Ralph Stanley, Joseph Cotten, Gene Vincent, William Styron, Maybelle Carter, Roberta Flack, Warren Beatty.
Greats who didn’t live here long enough to be considered Virginians: Ella Fitzgerald, George C. Scott, Edgar Allan Poe, Jim Morrison.
Yes, these folks are all from the realms of arts and sports. They are areas we can, mostly, agree upon. And when the American dollar is worthless, Virginians are truly going to have to unite behind their innovative new currency.
Got any better nominations?