In June 2009, Governor Mark Sanford vanished from the state for a week to consummate an adulterous relationship in Argentina. But Sanford became infamous before this escapade when he rejected stimulus money that his state desperately needed to provide unemployment and welfare benefits to needy persons and to avoid deep cuts in the state's already troubled public school system. The legislature reversed his horrific decision.
To make matters worse, Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer recently analogized providing assistance to poor people to giving food to "stray animals." Bauer said: "You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that." Translation: Let them die.
Proposed Law Would Reject Dollar as Legal Tender
Now, State Representative Mike Pitts, a fourth-term Republican, is the latest South Carolina politician to make the wall of shame. Pitts has introduced a bill that would ban the use of U.S. dollars in the state. Instead, commerce in the state would require silver or gold coins. The Palmetto Scoop explains the "logic" behind the measure:
Pitts said the intent of the bill is to give South Carolina the ability to “function through gold and silver coinage” and give the state a “base of currency” in the event of a complete implosion of the U.S. economic system.Pitts has the right to criticize the nation's economic policy. His effort to pass this measure, however, is a colossal waste of state resources.
“I’m not one to cry ‘chicken little,’ but if our federal government keeps spending at the rate we’re spending I don’t see any other outcome than the collapse of the economic system. . . .
“To me, something I can hold tangible in my hand I can put more value in, especially under the current rate of inflation. . . In the case of total economic collapse, a barter tool is going to be worth a whole lot more value than paper with ink on it.”
The Measure Would Violate the Constitution
The Constitution endows Congress with the power to "coin money [and] regulate the Value thereof." States do not retain the power to issue their own currencies; accordingly the 10th Amendment would not legitimize the measure.
Pursuant to its explicit constitutional authority, Congress has made U.S. currency the "legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues." The federal law would trump the South Carolina measure due to the supremacy of federal law (established by the Constitution).
By contrast, the Articles of Confederation, which the nation scrapped because it was woefully inadequate as a governing document, prohibited Congress from coining money unless 9 of the then 13 states consented. Under the Articles of Confederation, states retained the power to create their own currency. This archaic system, which prevented the formation of a national economy, no longer exists.
Confronted with the reality that his proposal would violate the Constitution, Pitts comes across as a Tea Party-conspiracy theorist and accuses the federal government of "consistently" violating the Constitution (two "wrongs" make a right). While Pitts makes nonspecific assertions that the federal government perpetually exceeds the scope of its powers, his proposal would violate explicit provisions of the Constitution and federal statutory law.
Rather than wasting time proposing blatantly unconstitutional legislation, Pitts should endeavor to do something useful for the people of his state. This is the type of conduct that should enrage voters. It is a wasteful stunt and nothing more. Citizens of South Carolina deserve better representation than this.