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Opinion: Seeds of civil disobedience


In less than a year of Democratic one party rule, it seems our government has produced the most feared of all political outcomes; a general sense of unease. Among Republicans, there is the predictable righteous indignation; with the so-called “progressives”, there is the growing realization that they’ve been had; and for the highly prized independents, a simple case of buyer’s remorse. All of which is fertile ground for a little mischief.

One of the interesting things about the financial blogs is, from time to time, there is a story about unusual forms and/or uses of money. At Global Trend Analysis, Mish notes the use of money in Iran as a form of communication.

Facing hard-line forces on the streets, Iran’s anti-government demonstrators have taken their protests to a new venue: writing “Death to the Dictator” and other opposition slogans on bank notes, while officials scramble to yank the bills from circulation.

“What did they die for?” asked one message on a bill,…others were stamped with the imprint of a red hand, signifying the images of protesters showing bloodstained palms,…and “Down with Khamenei” scrawled across the edges.

“Death to the Dictator” might be a bit much for use in America, but “Jail the Banksters” might be appropriate. $Bill chimes in with the idea of stamping “Audit the Fed” on our money. “Got Gold?” and “End the Fed” are other possibilities. But, the obvious Ron Paul connection leaves out a lot of people. Something in a more general sense might be good too, like for $1 bills, “Real Worth 4 cents”, or “Thanks from AIG”. “Delivered By Helicopter” might be a little long.

Of course, there is that little problem of defacing the currency. It’s not as clear cut as you might think. From the Department of the Treasury’s
Bureau of Printing and Engraving
FAQ section is this about “celebrity dollars”:

At least two statutes that may apply to celebrity notes are 18 U.S.C. ?? 333 and 475. 18 U.S.C. ? 333 provides: Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank note, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with the intent to render such bank note, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined not more than $100 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Additionally, 18 U.S.C. ? 475 subjects to punishment anyone who writes, prints, or otherwise impresses upon or attaches to any such instrument, obligation, or security, or any coin of the United States, any business or professional card, notice, or advertisement, or any notice or advertisement whatever…A determination of the legality of any particular celebrity note is a matter within the authority of the Department of Justice. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s position regarding this matter is that this and similar other treatments of United States currency are demeaning.

So the bottom line here is; does stamping a slogan on currency render it unfit for further distribution? Googling “Where’s George” shows 712,000 places to buy rubber stamps for the express purpose of defacing currency. I think we’re on pretty solid ground here, but then I’m not a Federal Court Judge, so what do I know. Proceed at your own risk.