Menendez Emerges in Court Filings as an Accused Crook Who Wanted To Be Paid in Honest Money
‘How much is one kilo of gold worth’ is one of the internet searches he is alleged to have made on the internet before bars of bullion were discovered in his home.
The criminal charges handed up by America against Senator Menendez, charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion, have all sorts of legal and political consequences. Less explored, at least so far, but just as newsworthy, is the monetary policy angle.
The indictment unsealed on Friday in New York reports that in June 2022, federal agents searching the home and safe deposit box of the senator and his wife found “over one hundred thousand dollars worth of gold bars.” It reports that on October 18, 2021, Mr. Menendez performed a web search for “how much is one kilo of gold worth?”
On January 29, 2022, according to the indictment, Mr. Menendez performed a Google search for “kilo of gold price.” The one-liners almost write themselves. At least the allegedly dishonest senator was smart enough to get the bribes in honest money. Mr. Menendez might be better moving from the Foreign Relations Committee that he has chaired and taking over the banking or Joint Economic committee, both of which oversee the Federal Reserve.
Maybe the Justice Department should leave the Mighty Menendez alone and indict the rest of the senators for theft in connection with the inflation that has eroded the value of the fiat currency with which the non-gold-bar-keeping public has been stuck. Or maybe Mr. Menendez should be targeted for market manipulation for voting to approve the Biden spending spree that has eroded the value of the dollar, while keeping his family’s assets in hard money.
Forgive my sardonic tone. It’s not my purpose here to belittle bribery or extortion, which are serious crimes, or to belittle the conspiracy charges against Mr. Menendez. Yet for those many Americans who are paid in dollars, not gold, and who are struggling to keep up with inflation in the dollar-based prices they pay for things like gas, rent, and groceries, it’s no laughing matter.
By checking the price of gold in dollars, Mr. Menendez was finding out also the value of dollars in gold. Looked at that way, the story of the Menendez web searches becomes that of a Senator gathering the information necessary to the power granted to him under Article I of the constitution, “to coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures.”
It’s no accident that “weights and measures” and “money” and “coin” are right there in the same passage. When the Constitution was adopted, money had a value measured in weights of silver or gold. Today, the Federal Reserve talks about stability, but the value of the Federal Reserve Notes it issues has been — against gold — anything but stable. It’s fallen more than 98% since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971.
The two percent inflation the Fed insists on targeting means that the technocrats to whom Congress has delegated the management of the dollar to have a formal goal of making the dollar a little less valuable each year. The technocrats can’t even accomplish that goal, at least as measured by the rubber yardstick of the consumer price index, a flawed measure compiling prices of lots of things—compact discs of music, landline telephone service, cigarettes—that lots of Americans buy less of than they once did.
In that context, who can blame a senator, or his wife, for having gold as a hedge against the possibility that his fellow senators will fail in their responsibility to “regulate the value” of the money that they coin? In 2021 and 2022, with Democrats controlling the White House and both houses of Congress and the Bidenomics stimulus spigots open wide, it was entirely predictable that dollars would be eroded in value by inflation.
The gold isn’t useful primarily because it’s hard to track or easy to store or transport. Cash has similar properties. The usefulness of the gold is that, unlike the paper dollars, it wasn’t going to be inflated away in value. The real offense of the senator is not so much in having some gold bars around his house, but in failing, as a member of Congress, to make sure the rest of us have some similarly reliable currency.
Mr. Menendez has been a constructive voice for freedom on foreign policy matters. If Governor Christie or some other candidate rises to the challenge of unseating the Senator, the case with the voters will be strongest if it is made not only on honest government but also on honest money. Let Congress create a dollar strong enough that when politicians or anyone else wants to shake someone down, it’s acceptable tender.