What Is A Dollar? - Define The Dollar Or Else

Posted 27 May 2009

Disclaimer: What is a dollar? A critical question for legal and tax issues but this article neither constitutes nor should it be relied upon as legal, investment or tax advice.

Almost everyone uses the dollar to calculate, plan and settle transactions in the United States and beyond.  Likewise feet or meters are commonly used to calculate, plan and construct many building and engineering projects.

If units of length were mired in definitional chaos then the buildings and other contraptions humanity builds would be unsound, unstable and prone to chronic failure.  

But when it comes to units of monetary calculation the current worldwide state of definitional chaos, a floating illusion currency system, is taken for granted.  Therefore, is it any surprise then that the current worldwide monetary system is unsound and unstable resulting in a chronically failing system?


Robert Kahre, a dutiful Atlas, is once again being leeched by immoral tax eaters in United States District Court.  

Earlier in 2007 he was harassed because of his use of a particular type of legal tender.  In his construction business Kahre used gold and silver instead of the predominant brand of paper tickets.

Two years earlier nine people were tried with Kahre for over 160 counts and there was not a single conviction.  As if in complete disregard for the principle of res judicata he is once again being assailed by parasites.  At issue is how Kahre is to define the dollar because a $50 gold coin and a $50 Federal Reserve Note do not have equal purchasing power.


Dr. Edwin Vieira, J.D. holds four degrees from Harvard and practices law before the United States Supreme Court.  I highly recommend reading Dr. Vieira's entire essay, What Is A Dollar?, which is quoted only in small part here:

2. Do the present monetary statutes intelligibly define the "dollar'"?

Unfortunately, the present monetary statutes do not define the "dollar" in an intelligible fashion.

a. Federal Reserve Notes. Most people associate the noun "dollar" with the Federal Reserve Note ("FRN") "dollar bill,” engraved with the portrait of President George Washington. This association is mistaken.

No statute defines - or ever has defined - the "one dollar" FRN as the "dollar,” or even as a species of "dollar.” Moreover, the United States Code provides that FRNs "shall be redeemed in lawful money on demand at the Treasury Department of the United States * * * or at any Federal Reserve bank.”4 Thus, FRNs are not themselves "lawful money" - otherwise, they would not be "redeemable in lawful money.” And if FRNs are not even "lawful money,” it is inconceivable that they are somehow "dollars,” the very units in which all "United States money is expressed.”5

b. United States coins. The situation with coinage is more complex, but equally (if not more) confusing. The United States Code provides for three different types of coinage denominated in "dollars": namely, base-metallic coinage, gold coinage, and silver coinage.

c. Currency of "equal purchasing power". The UnitedStates Code provides no answer to this perplexing question. Indeed, it mandates that the question should not even be capable of being asked.

For the Code commands that "the Secretary [of the Treasury] shall redeem gold certificates owned by the Federal reserve banks at times and in amounts the Secretary decides are necessary to maintain the equal purchasing power of each kind of United States currency.14

The term dollar is used in Article 1 Section 9 Clause 1 and the Seventh Amendment.  Neither the slave-trade faction nor the right to trial by jury would have accepted these provisions without a clear definition of what the dollar is.

Therefore, their support of these provisions inferentially establishes what a literal reading of them straightforwardly suggests: to wit, that the noun "dollar" refers, not to a mere name applicable to whatever Congress whimsically might decide thereafter to call a "dollar,” but instead to a particular coin so familiar in American experience as to be beyond political transmogrification. ... Obviously, Jefferson's free-market, scientific approach is a world apart from the arbitrary way in which Congress has set up the mutually incompatible and internally irrational sets of silver, gold, and base- metallic coins that exist today.

2) The Coinage Act of 1792. Little more than a year after Hamilton's Report, Congress enacted its principles into law.

Section 9 of the Coinage Act of 1792 contained the monetary definitions for the United States monetary system and defined

DOLLARS or UNITS - each to be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, and to contain three hundred and seventy one grains and four sixteenth parts of a grain of pure, or four hundred and sixteen grains of standard silver.

Section 19 provides the death penalty for government officials who debase the coinage.


During the 2008 Republican Presidential Primaries it was often cited that Congressman Ron Paul has not accomplished anything regarding legislation during his decades in Washington. Dr. Paul questioned Dr. Thomas Hoenig of the Federal Reserve about what a dollar is:


Well, Dr. Paul is a like Spanish Moss that clings to a roadside sign, refusing to go away and as a result has harrowed the ground and laid powerful seeds for helping the American people with how to buy silver and gold.

To my knowledge the only legislation he has introduced that has been approved and enacted is Public Law 99-185 and Public Law 99-61 which provide under 31 United States Code 5,112:

(e) - Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall mint and issue, in quantities sufficient to meet public demand, coins which— (1) are 40.6 millimeters in diameter and weigh 31.103 grams; (2) contain .999 fine silver(3) have a design— (A) symbolic of Liberty on the obverse side; and (B) of an eagle on the reverse side;

(h) - The coins issued under this title shall be legal tender as provided in section 5103 of this title.
(i) (1) Notwithstanding section 5111 (a)(1) of this title, the Secretary shall mint and issue the gold coins described in paragraphs (7), (8), (9), and (10) of subsection (a) of this section, in quantities sufficient to meet public demand, and such gold coins shall— (A) have a design determined by the Secretary, except that the fifty dollar gold coin shall have— (i) on the obverse side, a design symbolic of Liberty; and (ii) on the reverse side, a design representing a family of eagles, with the male carrying an olive branch and flying above a nest containing a female eagle and hatchlings; (B) have inscriptions of the denomination, the weight of the fine gold content, the year of minting or issuance, and the words “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, “United States of America”, and “E Pluribus Unum”; and (C) have reeded edges.

Dr. Paul has given America an easy path for clearing up the monetary chaos and it would require the adoption of gold and silver as currency in ordinary daily transactions.  This would be extremely easy with digital commodity currency services like GoldMoney.  Dr. Vieira has even authored a bill for States to use in adopting the use of digital gold and silver currencies as legal tender.  But instead it appears that America will choose the hard path.


Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson wrote on page 149 of The Ascent Of Money:

Not surprisingly, some people began to anticipate a depreciation of the banknotes, and began to revert to payment in gold and silver.  Ever the absolutist, Law's initial response was to resort to compulsion.  Banknotes were made legal tender.

 The export of gold and silver was banned as was the production and sale of gold and silver objects.  By the arrêt of 27 February 1720, it became illegal for a private citizen to possess more than 500 livres of metal coin.  The authorities were empowered to enforce this measure by searching people's houses.  Voltaire called this 'the most unjust edict ever rendered' and 'the final limit of a tyrannical absurdity'.

As Congressman Ron Paul said on 19 May 2009 before the Congress:

The sad part of all this is that we have forgotten what made America great, good, and prosperous. We need to quickly refresh our memories and once again reinvigorate our love, understanding, and confidence in liberty. The status quo cannot be maintained, considering the current conditions. Violence and lost liberty will result without some revolutionary thinking.

We must escape from the madness of crowds now gathering. The good news is the reversal is achievable through peaceful and intellectual means and, fortunately, the number of those who care are growing exponentially.

Of course, it could all be a bad dream, a nightmare, and that I'm seriously mistaken, overreacting, and that my worries are unfounded. I hope so. But just in case, we ought to prepare ourselves for revolutionary changes in the not-too-distant future.

The pattern is common.  Like the scoundrel John Law the ultra-scoundrel King George issued Writs of Assistance which provoked the American Revolution.  When those exercising monetary rights are punished under penalty of death by criminal gangs costumed in government regalia then the reaction by the populace is usually the legitimate use of deadly force in self-defense.  Perhaps there is a need after all for survivalism in the suburbs as the probability of disturbing events increases.  It may be wise to at least pick up a 72 hour kit.


American monetary jurisprudence is in utter disarray being mutually incompatible and internally irrational.  Criminal gangs costumed in government regalia are strutting around with their IRS hats harassing, intimidating and threatening with deadly force completely peaceful producers who are acting completely within the bounds of the internally irrational law.

The Great Credit Contraction has begun and will likely lurch from the financial to the economic to the social to the political to the geo-political and most likely culminate in geo-strategic chaos.  Dr. Vieira has authored a suitable bill States could adopt to help America find her way home with less pain.  These undesirable future realities need not unfold.  If the costumed criminal gangs that swore to uphold the United States Constitution had a shred of integrity and honored their oath then much of the misery could easily be avoided.

But while the baton, taser, assault rifle or stealth bomber may be used in lieu of conversation words will always retain their power.  Ideas can only be overcome by other ideas.  Words proffer the instruments to meaning.  Equity, freedom, justice, peace and prosperity.  These are not mere words; they are vantage points.

As fiat currency acts like the common stock of the issuing nation and because during this decade the FRN$ has been evaporating at an ever increasing pace against the ancient metal of kings it is no surprise that the probability for 'revolutionary changes' is increasing.  As the situation intensifies the purchasing power of gold will continue increasing while the purchasing power of the FRN$ will continue evaporating.

Disclosure:  Long physical gold and silver with neither a position in the problematic GLD and SLV ETFs nor any association whatsoever, except perhaps that of victim via assault and robbery, with any of these aggressive sociopathic criminal gangs costumed in government regalia.

P.S.  Because individuals are endowed with certain unalienable rights and because the people use those rights to create governments therefore it follows that people should not be afraid of their governments but that governments with their silly little costumes should be afraid of the people.