Listen to talk radio long enough, or watch cable news for a segment or two, and you’re bound to hear an advertisement for physical gold. These commercials are probably playing in your head right now, complete with a recognizable (albeit past prime) actor or media personality, telling you that gold is a “safe haven asset” that has “never been worth zero” and will help protect your financial security from the “roller coaster that is the stock markets.”

But that’s for older people, right? It’s for those of a generation used to viewing gold as a safe haven protection against destructive government policies, and perhaps storing some money under their mattress as well. Well, there is a more modern version of the Gold Bugs, too — Crypto Dudes.

Search for anything in finance on the internet these days and you’ll inevitably be targeted by an algorithm sending ads your way for anything and everything related to crypto-currencies. It makes sense: Bitcoin is at an all-time high; the SEC-approved crypto Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are buying digital currencies hand over fist, outstripping supply; and, the good news is “you, too, can be a Crypto-King with this exclusive course!”

Even though the differences between the analog and digital worlds of alternative finance are significant, these advertisements are really selling different versions of the same thing: financial freedom from government overreach, intrusion, and manipulation. To wit, you’ll find a similar disdain for the Federal Reserve among “Gold Bugs” and “Crypto Dudes” — and for the IRS and Washington’s deficit-spending addiction. It’s the same escape, just taking different routes.

Why? Any American consumer in 2024 will tell you that their paycheck isn’t going as far as it did even 12 months ago. In fact, while the inflationary spike of 2021–Present has led to the most acute pain in our pocketbooks recently, Americans’ purchasing power has been on a devastating decline for more than 100 years. The value of a dollar has declined by about 50% since 1995, and more than 99% since the formation of the United States Federal Reserve Bank in 1913. A run like that certainly makes assets that ‘never go to zero,’ or enjoy the luxury of a ‘guaranteed finite supply,’ quite attractive by comparison.

Indeed, the Gold Bugs and Crypto Dudes stand shoulder-to-shoulder when it comes to opposing America’s central bank, but it’s not their only common adversary. While the Fed has been fixing the price of money for the last century, blowing and popping bubbles and inflating financial assets all the while, Congress has been right there with them chipping away at Americans’ financial freedom. Lawmakers in our nation’s capital have been taking on trillions of dollars of debt to finance deficit spending on ever bigger government programs, empowering tax collectors with more sophisticated collection weapons, and embracing an insidious practice of spying on Americans’ accounts so they can tax every transaction imaginable.

Just like gold possession was once criminalized, governments’ initial response to the advent of cryptocurrencies was to paint the whole lot as criminal. The only logical uses for cryptocurrency, according to the government, was to launder dirty money, escape taxes, or engage in criminal activity. Any legitimate functions should be under government control in their view. (Ironically, the biggest crypto fraud of all was seemingly enabled by the kind of leverage only government influence peddlers can provide, as evidenced in the fascinating implosion of crypto firm FTX.)

What governments have always been reticent to say is that financial assets outside of their authority, whatever form they take, are a significant threat to their own power. In other words, any improvement to your financial sovereignty is a threat to their money hegemony.

Meanwhile, government actors are quickly trying to climb the technology curve to maintain the omnipresent tax collections that power central planners’ conceit. As soon as they noticed Americans’ audacity in using instant payment applications like Venmo to facilitate regular commerce and informal IOUs outside of the traditional financial networks, federal authorities moved to make ever smaller transactions reportable to the IRS.

The Federal Reserve, too, decided modern instant payment applications shouldn’t be limited to mere private actors. So, they have launched their own 24/7 instant payments system called FedNow to serve banks, businesses, and eventually compete with private offerings like Venmo. Not to mention the Fed’s rumored interests in developing its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). 

Developments like these, together with exponentially increasing technology and astronomical debt binges might make one take a second look at that ad for gold bullion or crypto capital. Further, it should spur honest policymakers — ones driven by American principles of limited government and individual rights — to think about how best to guard against these long extant, but accelerating attacks on financial freedom. 

But, you say, “These issues exist on such a macro scale. What can North Carolina even do?” It’s a fair question, but there are steps state governments and localities can take to restore and protect the financial sovereignty of North Carolina citizens and the businesses they own and work for.

Earlier this month, North Carolina Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, hosted a small get together at his insurance offices in downtown Angier. The agenda? To discuss what can possibly be done to guard financial transaction freedom here in North Carolina, with special guest Catherine Austin Fitts. Fitts is author of the Solari Report, an investment banker and former public official who served as managing director of Dillon, Read & Co. and, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, as United States assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Housing.

Fitts made a name for herself as a whistleblower and now pitches financial sovereignty to individuals and businesses while arguing for state policies to guard against what she considers the great crime of digital financial control. Yes, instructions on how to purchase gold bullion is among her tutorials. But instead of C actors, her policy prescriptions are supported with Grade A research and monetary policy acumen.

So what options should policymakers open their mind to as we face this brave new digital world of all powerful governments and technology? How do we guard against the Big Government trends that are taking a hatchet to our financial sovereignty — from privacy to purchasing power? A few ideas to consider:

Establish a state depository, suggests Fitts. Lawmakers should explore “creating the legal and physical capacity for our state governments to provide in-state custodian services for real assets and archives, including gold, silver, and digital records.” Texas is moving in this direction.

Establish a state bank. A state bank can help protect and cultivate our local banks and deposit institutions from the vagaries of both global and national central banking mismanagement and ensure that they have the support they need to serve our local communities and economy as well as a rich regional trade. North Carolina has a rich banking history and a large banking footprint; a large incentive to support and regulate healthy digital and analog financial systems. North Dakota has long had a state bank.

Most importantly, perhaps, respect citizens’ property rights by continuing to lower taxes and reducing regulation, especially financial regulations. The Gold Bugs and Crypto Dudes may seem either old fashioned or newfangled, but those concerns have clients and customers for a reason. The larger and more advanced governments and multinational bureaucracies get, the more they violate the financial sovereignty inherent in the property rights that inspired our founders and were articulated by the likes of John Locke. Our state policymakers should take note. As we round the first turn of the 21st Century, North Carolina can, and should, make its goal to be first in financial freedom.