Local currencies are popping up to help local communities while states look into alternatives to the dollar as a hedge to falling dollar value and mounting government debt.
Are these "domestic terrorists" who could tear apart the country, or are Federal government policies affecting the economy terrorizing them?
If you live in the US and care about whether the dollars in your pocket will be able to buy bread in the future, you’ve likely been paying attention to debates like this in Washington DC.
“The dollar during these last three years was devalued almost 50 percent,” Congressman Ron Paul said to Ben Bernanke in hearing on Capitol Hill.
“Our growing debt could cost US jobs and do significant damage to the economy,” President Obama told the country in an address in late-July.
If you’re state legislator Bob Marshall in office just 30 miles from the nation’s capital watching closely,growing more concerned about the direction of policy and the dollar, you’re making a contingency plan.
“How do we conduct business and economy if this kingdom of paper collapses because people don't have any more trust in it,” is the question he’s posing to his colleagues.
And if you go shopping at this farmers market in the shadow of Capitol Hill, you’re already cashing in on another form of tender: the Potomac.
It’s a local currency circulating within this community of merchants. It was minted to help keep more money closer to home partly in response to economic stability according to its creator Larry Chang.
We first interviewed Chang close to two years ago when he began printing Potomacs in his home. Now circulation has increased along with its reason to be.
“I think the economy is getting worse,” said Chang. “Don't think anyone will dispute that.”
It turns out others agree.
“I've seen where we're going – there are no good outcomes that I see at all,” predicted Bob Marshall, a Virginia state legislator proposing a study to look into an alternative currency for Virginia.
His feelings may help explain why more than a dozen states are now looking into alternative currencies.
“If you're on the Titanic someone has to question do we need lifeboats and maybe we should think about this,” said Marshall.
Back at the market the lifeboats afloat, which could amount to more than market commerce someday if the dollar really goes south.
“Then the possibility exists that the Potomac and other local currencies that are based on the US dollar can be freed,” said Chang.
Though it seems innocent enough at the market where the “monopoly money” provides a local stimulus,the movement is coming under fire with critics.
Constitutional law professor Eric Freedman of Hofstra Law School calls dollar alternatives catastrophic for the country and unconstitutional for states.
“It is certainly disturbing if there are any people in political life who think the solution of America’s currency problem is to opt out of America,” argued Freedman.
Also, earlier this spring Bernard von Nothaus, architect of the liberty dollar, was convicted on charges of conspiracy and counterfeiting for making and selling his own coins. He was called a “domestic terrorist” by the US attorney.
But for those more concerned about the destruction of the dollar, the terrorizing is being done to them.
“You don't want to get in a situation where you gotta go the wheel barrel to go the store to buy milk,” worried Marshall. “That has happened.”