Montana Lawmaker Wants to be Paid in Gold

Jerry O’Neil (Source: State of Montana)

Jerry O’Neil has been in the Montana legislature since 2000, first as a state senator and now as a representative. Up until now, a regular paycheck from the state has sufficed for his compensation.

Perhaps it’s Barack Obama’s reelection that has convinced O’Neil that the dollar is going to collapse because the debt will spiral even further out of control. Whatever the reason that O’Neil waited until after his reelection to spring his new requirements on being paid, he already has his talking point prepped for a debt larger than the $16 trillion it now is.

“My constituents, when I went door to door, one of the things they were interested in was the $17 trillion national debt,” O’Neil told The Huffington Post. “Some of my constituents said we would not have this problem if we had currency backed by gold.”

What’s an extra trillion anyway when the debt is already huge?

O’Neil’s point that the debt wouldn’t be as large if the currency was backed by gold is correct, but the majority of economists also point out that the economy would not be as prosperous as it is now.

Regardless of economic reality, O’Neil appears to have been persuaded by his constituents instead of economists on what is good for the American economy. He sent a letter to the Montana Legislative Services, the people who cut his check, requesting that they forego the paper check and slip him a few gold or silver coins.

It is very likely the bottom will fall out from under the U.S. dollar. Only so many dollars can be printed before they have no value. The Keynesian era of financing government with debt appears to be close to its demise.

If and when that happens, how can we in the Montana Legislature protect our constituents? — The only answer I can come up with is to honor my oath to the U.S. Constitution and request that your debt to me be paid in gold and silver coins that will still have value when the U.S. dollar is reduced to junk status. I therefore request my legislative pay to be in gold and silver coins that are unadulterated with base metals.

Exactly how O’Neil being paid in gold protects his constituents is the unanswered and probably unanswerable question. When basic economics is a mystery as it is to O’Neil, then it’s not such a surprise that O’Neil can make the connection that some gold in his pocket is good for his constituents.

O’Neil hasn’t heard back from Montana Legislative Services. That is probably because Montana does not have any mechanism in place to pay by gold instead of check. Check has worked acceptably for the other legislators, state workers and vendors. O’Neil has a solution for that sticky problem.

“They might just go to the coin shop and get me gold and silver coins, or they might say I have to do it myself,” he said. “I don’t know.”

No surprise here, but O’Neil is also a supporter of Ron Paul, one of the country’s biggest advocates of a return to the gold standard.

It also noteworthy to mention that O’Neil has been a practicing paralegal since 1984 but has had a long run-in with the state over his right to practice law.

According to the Montana Supreme Court in their 2006 ruling on the case, O’Neil never attended law school, was never licensed to practice law in Montana, had never sat for the state bar exam and “has not met the Montana Supreme Court’s character and fitness requirements.”

O’Neil is not an economist, but he is also not a paralegal according to the standards of the profession. Yet O’Neil continues to practice law, although he focuses his attention at Native American reservations like the Blackfeet Tribal Court. O’Neil’s continuing work as a paralegal appears more the result of the state of Montana’s incompetence than his legal training.

That helps explain why O’Neil thinks that Montana should treat him special by paying him in gold. He has already scuttled around professional requirements in the legal field. O’Neil could just as easily take his check and buy gold with it, but he wants to make a statement. However, that statement says more about O’Neil’s idiosyncrasies than anything else.

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