House lawmakers reject teaching 'gold standard'

Posted September 28, 2015

The North Carolina flag flies over the historic state capitol building.

— The House Rules Committee voted Monday to remove a proposed requirement that high school students be taught about the gold standard.

The provision was part of Senate Bill 524, a proposal to add a list of new "Founding Principles" to those that lawmakers required state schools to teach in 2011. The measure would also add a test on the "Founding Principles" beginning next school year.

The curriculum, a model bill from conservative free-market think tank American Legislative Exchange Council, requires students to receive education on the nation's "Founding Philosophy and Principles" as found in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers.

The five subject areas added in Senate Bill 524 are "Constitutional limitations on government power to tax and spend and prompt payment of public debt," "Money with intrinsic value," "Strong defense and supremacy of civil authority over military," "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none" and "Eternal vigilance by 'We the People.'"

Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, R-Wake, the bill's handler in the House, first proposed deleting the final item, "Eternal vigilance by 'We the People.'"

"That's sort of a vague thing to put into a curriculum," Stam said. "I don’t know how a teacher would be judged on whether he taught that or not."

After the committee agreed to delete that topic, Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, proposed deleting "Money with intrinsic value" as well.

"The debate about money with intrinsic value goes back to the gold standard," Jackson said.

"It could be silver, it could be bitcoin, it could be things other than gold, but it goes back to that same debate, yes," Stam responded.

"Money with intrinsic value," a concept known as the gold standard, is the practice of backing government currency with a commodity owned in sufficient quantity to guarantee the value of all paper money in circulation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt began the process of decoupling U.S. currency from the value of gold in 1933 in response to the Depression, and the severance was completed by President Richard Nixon in 1971. Few countries still use the practice today.

The change to "fiat" money – money that isn't backed by a government-held commodity – allows governments to more easily control the supply of currency in circulation. That's a favorite topic of conservative pundits such as Glenn Beck, who distrust the Federal Reserve system and recommend the buying of gold and other commodities as a hedge against inflation.

An official with the Department of Public Instruction told lawmakers the concept would have to be taught "in a philosophical way," that it would be a fairly complex matter for a high school curriculum and that it is not traditionally taught in North Carolina high schools.

"I think you’ll find that being taught in business schools across America, not in high school," Jackson said.

The committee voted overwhelmingly to remove it from the bill. The legislation could be on the House floor later Monday. If it's approved, it would need to go back to the Senate for concurrence.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all