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Texas Picks Company to Run State Bullion Depository

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The Texas bullion depository took a major step closer to reality last week when officials formally announced the private vendor that will run the facility. The creation of a state bullion depository in Texas represents a power shift away from the federal government to the state, and it provides a blueprint that could ultimately undermine the Federal Reserve and its monopoly on money.

Gov. Greg Abbot signed legislation creating the state gold bullion and precious metal depository in June of 2015. The facility will not only provide a secure place for individuals, business, cities, counties, government agencies and even other countries to to store gold and other precious metals, the law also creates a mechanism to facilitate the everyday use of gold and silver in business transactions. In short, a person will be able to deposit gold or silver – and pay other people through electronic means or checks – in sound money.

Last Wednesday, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Austin-based Lone Star Tangible Assets will build and operate the Texas Bullion Depository. Officials say the facility could open as early as next January.

The company will initially run the depository out of its current Austin location, and will build a new vault facility in the Austin area. Hegar said customers will not have to travel to Austin in order to utilize the depository. The plan is to establish a branch-like system.

“We envision a network of licensed and insured depository agents to help Texans sign up for our services,” Hegar told the Texas Tribune.

Tom Smelker will serve as the state’s first Texas Bullion Depository administrator. He is currently the director of Treasury Operations in the Comptroller’s office.

According to an article in the Star-Telegram, state officials want a facility ‘with an e-commerce component that also provides for secure physical storage for Bullion in an existing facility or a newly constructed facility.’ Officials say plans for a depository should include online services that would let customers accept, transfer and withdraw bullion deposits and related fees.

By making gold and silver available for regular, daily transactions by the general public, the new law has the potential for wide-reaching effect. Professor William Greene is an expert on constitutional tender and said in a paper for the Mises Institute that when people in multiple states actually start using gold and silver instead of Federal Reserve notes, it would effectively nullify the Federal Reserve and end the federal government’s monopoly on money.

Over time, as residents of the state use both Federal Reserve notes and silver and gold coins, the fact that the coins hold their value more than Federal Reserve notes do will lead to a ‘reverse Gresham’s Law’ effect, where good money (gold and silver coins) will drive out bad money (Federal Reserve notes).

“As this happens, a cascade of events can begin to occur, including the flow of real wealth toward the state’s treasury, an influx of banking business from outside of the state – as people in other states carry out their desire to bank with sound money – and an eventual outcry against the use of Federal Reserve notes for any transactions.”

University of Houston political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus called the development of a state gold depository a step toward independence.

This is another in a long line of ways to make Texas more self-reliant and less tethered to the federal government. The financial impact is small but the political impact is telling, Many conservatives are interested in returning to the gold standard and circumvent the Federal reserve in whatever small way they can.”

The Texas gold depository will create a mechanism to challenge the federal government’s monopoly on money, and provides a blueprint for other states to follow. If the majority of states controlled their own supply of gold, it could conceivably make the Federal Reserve completely irrelevant.

State gold depositories are part of a broader movement going on at the state level to facilitate the use of gold and silver. While Congress will most likely never even audit the Fed, much less end it, this kind of action at the state level can undermine the Federal Reserve. Coupled with individual action, it could effectively erode the central bank’s monopoly on money.

The Tenth Amendment Center contributed to this report.

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