The Latest Lunacy: Virginia Considering Its Own Currency

In the latest lunacy among states which are losing faith in the union, Virginia is considering having its own metallic currency.

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This photo released by the United States Mint shows the new Presidential $1 coin Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007, in Chicago. The first coin, George Washington on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other side, goes into circulation on Feb. 15. The U.S. Mint says it will release four coins a year each featuring a different president.

If at first you can't secede, you can at least create your own currency.

In the latest lunacy among states which are losing faith in the union—or at least, the leadership of the union—Virginia is considering having its own metallic currency. The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill calling for a study (which would cost Virginia taxpayers more than $17,000) to assess the value of a state-issued coin. Several other states are considering similar plans. The idea is that Americans can't trust the Fed to operate monetary policy, and that the vaunted U.S. dollar might one day become worthless.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

There are surely reasons to be concerned about the strength of the dollar. But it's still the gold standard (even if it's no longer backed by actual gold) among world currencies. When we worry about inflation, it's generally a function of a few percentage points—problematic for consumers, but nothing like the experiences of people in countries where there has been hyperinflation, where a loaf of bread might cost six times as much in the afternoon as it did that morning. And while fiscal responsibility is an important goal, does creating a new, limited currency really the answer?

It recalls the scene in Gone With the Wind, when Scarlett returns home to Tara from a burned-down Atlanta, finding her father impoverished and mentally unwell. He assures her he has loads of money in the form of bonds—something that reassures the heroine until she realizes they are Confederate bonds. Would a modern Virginia coin be much different?

If constituents in the Old Dominion are truly concerned about financial responsibility, there's an easy place to start. Don't spend the $17,440 the currency study would cost.

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