State Currency: Hard Questions, Simple Answers
It would be easy enough to poke fun at Glen Bradley.
Bradley is a first-term Republican state legislator from the Franklin County town of Youngsville. He has filed a bill to create a legislative commission to study having North Carolina issue its own currency.
He's also considering legislation to require state government to accept gold and silver in payment of taxes and other bills. That way the state can begin backing that new currency with precious metals.
And he's filed bills aimed at restricting federal regulation of guns and agricultural goods produced and sold solely within North Carolina.
So far, he hasn't filed any bills requiring us all to build bomb shelters in our backyard or to keep a year's supply of bottled water in the basement. (OK, I couldn't help myself.)
Bradley says he's trying to insulate North Carolina from looming hyper-inflation and the collapse of the Federal Reserve that will make the United State's fiat currency worthless or nearly so.
His bill even predicts such a scenario, citing unnamed experts. "In the event of hyperinflation, depression, or other economic calamity related to the breakdown of the Federal Reserve System, for which the State is not prepared, the State's governmental finances and private economy will be thrown into chaos," the bill reads.
Apparently, insulating the state from national and global commerce wouldn't have any debilitating effects. The deflationary cycle created by a jarringly restrictive money supply wouldn't be anything to worry about either. (After all, seeing the value of your home and investments shrink in 2008 and 2009 was just good fun, wasn't it?)
Still, Bradley's notions shouldn't be simply dismissed as wacky fodder for blogs and water cooler talk. They're symptomatic of a wider yearning and a larger problem in American politics and American political discourse.
The world is a complex place, and it's becoming more complex all the time.
Implicit in Bradley's bills is a desire that such were not the case, that we could return to a simpler time. If we could just get rid of a specific villain or a vague group of them - a nebulous Federal Reserve - maybe that could happen. Maybe then any feelings of powerlessness in this swirl of complexity would go away.
Of course, they won't.
The maze of complexity - in finance, in business, in paying your taxes, in getting married, in dying, in just living next to each other - is too vast.
What Bradley and his tea party followers feel in their bones, but can't quite get a handle on, is that the complexity is being used again them.
The world seemingly belongs to those who understand complex finance, law, economics and business rules. Sometimes those who understand those complexities take advantage of those who don't.
Politics, in a democratic society, should be about ensuring that doesn't happen. Often, the opposite occurs.
Offers of simple solutions won't change that.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association in Raleigh. Contact him at email@example.com.
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