Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Philippines Moves to Ban Coin Collection

The Philippine government has expanded her version of financial repression

Using flimsy scapegoats, a bill has been filed to criminalize coin hoarding.


Coin collectors beware.

Senator Manuel Lapid has filed a bill to penalize the hoarding of coins to avoid coin shortage.

Citing figures from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Lapid said there should be around 17.34 billion coins--worth around P18.94 billion--in circulation. He said that would mean around 184 coins per Filipino.

"To enterprising crooks, this volume of coins in circulation is a goldmine. Recent valuation of the worth of the country's coinage suggests four of the coins are worth more than their face value if melted," he said in his explanatory note.

Lapid warned that melting down coins "along with the common practice of keeping coins in piggy banks, commercial undertakings such as the Automatic Tubig Machines which use coins for operation, video games machines and illegal numbers games, may threaten the sound circulation of coins in the country."

His bill defines coin hoarding as possessing coins of legal tender "beyond the requirements of his regular business as may be determined by the BSP."…

More from the same article,

Although coin collecting is allowed, the BSP can demand that people turn in all their coins within a month of declaring a coin shortage. Under the Lapid bill, "failure to make the surrender within the required period shall constitute coin hoarding."

The bill proposes a penalty of one year in prison and a fine of P100,000 "for every one thousand pieces of coins hoarded or a fraction thereof."

If passed into law, the bill allows the government to confiscate the coins for its own use.

Finally the admission…

The bill also proposes to allow BSP, in case of a coin shortage, to require all business transactions to be done in coins. "Any transaction to the contrary shall be considered coin hoarding," his bill reads.

"Though the day may be far when we may legally accept being given candies for change instead of coins, such a problem may not be remote as indicated by reports in other jurisdictions. It is thus imperative that preventive measures be put in place," Lapid said.

BSP has had a coin recirculation program since 2005 to address perceived coin shortages in some areas in the Philippines and to save money because the “intrinsic value of the coin is greater than its nominal value especially for the lower-denominated coins.”

First, government issues you the money to use, and then wants to dictate to you how much, and what medium, you should keep and use. If this isn’t an example of despotism, then I don’t know what else is.

Next, the Philippine government finally admits that “intrinsic value of the coin is greater than its nominal value especially for the lower-denominated coins” which means the government has been inflating the purchasing power of the local currency, the paper Peso, away.

Yet instead of maintaining monetary discipline, they chose to pin the blame, threaten to criminalize and perhaps actualize confiscation of the savings owned by the innocent citizenry. This should be a noteworthy example of arbitrary immoral laws.

Also, as predicted, inflationism’s alter ego has always been price control. The proposed banning of the hoarding of coins extrapolates to forcing people to keep coins in circulation, for imagined hobgoblins.

This also means forcing people to accept the coins at face value, which ironically they admit, has been worth more. So in essence, the Philippine government wants you and me to forget about prices and values or economics.

[Updated to add: I forgot to mention that what the government fears is that when the value of coins immensely widens from its face value, out of the effects of inflation, the tendency is for the public to hoard them. This is Gresham's Law at work which I mentioned earlier when Ron Paul talked about modern day coin debasement]

Yet setting up a strawman to justify the attack on the citizenry, through price controls, has long been a pattern of desperate politicians, as the great Ludwig von Mises explained,

in futile and hopeless attempts to fight the inevitable consequences of inflation — the rise in prices — are masquerading their endeavors as a fight against inflation. While fighting the symptoms, they pretend to fight the root causes of the evil. And because they do not comprehend the causal relation between the increase in money in circulation and credit expansion on the one hand and the rise in prices on the other, they practically make things worse.

Moreover, this represents an assault to the informal economy which operates mostly on cash (paper money and coins). This means that such law will become an instrument of subjugation and repression of mostly the poor (who don’t have bank accounts and who are most likely the major users of coins), the middle class, and importantly the political opposition.

Lastly, I am inclined to think that some vested interest groups have been pushing to keep these coins for themselves, of course, by forcing the public cough up on these coins through legislation.

The great Frédéric Bastiat in “The Law” warned

It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

Confiscation of coins will not remove the effects of monetary inflation.

Yet by disallowing people to save through their preferred means and by confiscation of their savings means that such policy have the latent intent to destroy people's wealth.

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