By Ylan Q. Mui
The Washington Post
Virginia state Del. Robert G. Marshall fears that a financial apocalypse is coming and only one thing can save the commonwealth: its own currency.
The idea that Virginia should consider issuing its own money was dismissed as just another quixotic quest by one of the most conservative members of the state legislature when Marshall introduced it three years ago. But it has since gained traction not only in Virginia, but also in states across the country as Americans have grown increasingly suspicious of the institutions entrusted with safeguarding the economy.
This week, the proposal by the Republican from Northern Virginia's Prince William County sailed through the House of Delegates with a 2-to-1 majority.
"This is a serious study about a serious topic," Marshall said Tuesday. "We're not completely powerless."
So far, only Utah has approved a law recognizing nontraditional currency. Four other states have bills pending this year. Marshall said he is unsure of his proposal's prospects in the Virginia Senate. One Democrat derided it as a descent into "la-la land."
But the fact that the debate is happening at all reflects a deep-seated distrust in the very foundation of the country's economic system — the dollar.
Much of the anger is directed at the Federal Reserve, which controls the nation's supply of money. Since the financial crisis, the Fed has pumped trillions of dollars into the economy to help avert what Chairman Ben Bernanke believed could have been the next Great Depression. Critics worry the Fed won't ever stop.
Marshall believes that the result could resemble the Weimar Republic of Germany after World War I: a worthless currency, skyrocketing inflation and a crumbling government.
And those are only the problems that the Fed might create. Who knows what other threats may be lurking in the shadowy world of cyberattacks, Marshall said. The Fed acknowledged Tuesday that its computer systems were recently compromised, although the problems did not affect critical operations and have since been fixed.