Which is which?
It turns out that the man walking free is Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. A one-dollar note that his bank issued used to be worth — as recently as, say, the start of President Bush’s first term — a 265th of an ounce of gold; today it’s value has plunged to less than a 1,400th of an ounce of gold. The man who issued the coins that will fetch more dollars today than when he issued them is Bernard von NotHaus, 67. He called his coins “Liberty Dollars,” minted them with some similarities to government money, and even though they more than held their value it turns out they’re against the law.
Von NotHaus promised a “spectacular trial” when, in 2007, he was interviewed by our Joseph Goldstein.* At the time von NotHaus was expecting to be indicted, as he eventually was, in connection with his minting of coins. His boast to our Mr. Goldstein was that he would “put this country's monetary system on trial.” In the event, the trial of von NotHaus, which took place at Statesville, North Carolina, was over in but eight days. The jury deliberated but two hours before bringing in its verdict of guilty. It will stand for many as a lesson in the difficulties of illuminating the illogic of our monetary system.