As state lawmakers prepare to leave Austin, political observers are writing off 84th Legislature's session as a dud, small in deed and ambition. After all, this is a body whose proudest accomplishments are passing tax cuts that will be too small for anyone to notice and letting licensed gun owners carry handguns on their hips instead of their coat pockets.
The elegies were premature. Lawmakers, their sense of mission suddenly awakened, voted over the weekend to establish a state-run bullion depository, to be called, simply, the Texas Bullion Depository.
The depository, Southlake Representative Giovanni Capriglione's two-year vision quest, will basically function like a bank, minus most of the borrowing and lending functions normally associated with banks. People, corporations, governments — basically anyone or anything who happens to be in possession of significant quantities of gold (or silver, or platinum, or palladium, or rhodium) — will be able to turn their precious metals over to the state Comptroller's Office, which will oversee the TBD, for safekeeping. The TBD will not pay interest. It will not make loans. It can't invest the bullion in sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps or anything else, as it is statutorily required to keep enough precious metal on hand to satisfy all deposits.
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So basically Texas is creating a great big safety deposit box, which doesn't sound all that visionary. But that overlooks two important points. One, this makes Texas the first state in the country with its own bullion depository, which is self-evidently awesome. Two, having a stockpile of gold is a necessary first step toward preparing Texas for the inevitable collapse of the global economy and world order.
The bill passed over the weekend doesn't specifically mention global economic collapse, but a previous incarnation of the bill, which Capriglione unsuccessfully pushed in 2013, did. Under that measure the TBD would have functioned much as it does in the current bill, as a secure gold piggy bank, but it would have had the additional responsibility of planning for a precious-metals-based economy, just in case there's a "systemic dislocation in a national and international financial system, including systemic problems in liquidity, credit markets, or currency markets."
Stripping out that language leaves Texas just as woefully unprepared for a post-money economy as other states, but sometimes big ideas take a couple of legislative sessions to percolate. There's always 2017, assuming economic Armageddon holds off that long.