Did you know that you have the right to create your own promissory notes that the government and other entities are required to accept in payment of your debts? No? Then congratulations on not being insane.
I've written many times about people who believe that they have some inherent right to make up their own laws or just not follow the ones that apply to the rest of us. Now that I think about it, that would also describe celebrities, members of Congress, and my ex-girlfriend, but this post is about people who claim "personal sovereignty" or say they have personally "seceded" from the United States. This has all kinds of benefits, such as tax exemptions, immunity from DUI laws and/or the ability to print your own money or promissory notes. All it takes is getting other people and government entities to buy your bullshit, although that turns out to be a rather large obstacle.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last week on the increasing use of bogus but official-looking documents that their creators call "bond promissory notes" or "private offset bonds," among other things, but which the report called "a worthless exercise that defies common sense." These people write up a document, pack it with legalese and code phrases that they think will protect them from liability, and then send it to a creditor or other entity. Now that I think about it, that would also describe lawyers, but we are licensed to do it, and more importantly at least the good ones are trying to follow laws that actually exist. These people aren't.
Some may believe they are doing something that's legal, but they are deluded. The report discussed the case of a man from O'Fallon, Illinois, who allegedly offered "bond promissory notes" 60 or 70 times before finally getting in hot water when he filed one in federal court to pay a tax lien. He actually wrote a note to the judge offering some help with the procedure, just in case her "clerks may not be familiar with these . . . instruments [or] know how to handle them."
Another man, who I'm happy to note hails from my hometown of Kansas City, was also very open about his practices, saying on a website this summer that he had set up a bank to help debtors with what he called their "fictitious obligations" to the "foreign agents who control most banks, mortgage companies and lending institutions." Denny Ray Hardin's private bank, which he called the "Private Bank of Denny Ray Hardin," may or may not still be operating now that Denny Ray is in state prison.
A special agent for the U.S. Treasury Department said that some people legitimately believe, or want to believe, that these methods are legal, simply out of desperation or "economic despair." But others, he said, are just opposed to the federal government in general and think they are striking some sort of blow against it. (The agent referred to this as "paper terrorism," which seems like a great example of the horrible overuse of the word "terrorism." Are we fighting a paper war on paper terrorism?) Worst of all, some people are preying on others by holding seminars purporting to teach them how to create and use "bond promissory notes."
Interestingly enough, those people only take cash.Link: St. Louis Post-Dispatch