If you’re like most people, you read that title and scratched your head in confusion. “Rich,” you may have said, “what on earth are you talking about? Of course my birth certificate isn’t a bond. It’s a birth certificate.” And now you’re reading this, because you’re wondering what sort of foaming madness I’m spewing forth onto your screen.
I work in the financial sector in my day job, and I come into contact with a broad slice of the general public on a daily basis. That’s how I first encountered this nonsense. About six years ago, I received a call from a gentleman who said he wanted to redeem his bond. So I got the particulars of his account, looked it up, and scratched my head in confusion. There were no bonds. There weren’t any bond-based mutual funds. He had nothing that even looked like a bond. All he had was a checking account, and that held less than a hundred dollars.
“Sir,” I said, probably sounding extremely confused, “did you mean you wanted to take a withdrawal from your checking account?”
“No,” he assured me. “I’ve got a bond, and it’s worth a million dollars, and I just need to get enough out to buy a new car.”
There really aren’t words to describe the confusion you feel as a broker, when you’re talking to someone who has less than a hundred bucks and who assures you that he’s worth a million dollars. So I asked some questions. Did he have the bond with another firm? No. Did he hold the bond in paper form? That almost never happens these days, but you never know. But the answer was… no. However, he insisted had a bond worth a million dollars. It was tied to his Social Security number, and he needed the money. The conversation ended with me telling him that I was looking at every account at our firm associated with his Social Security number, and no such bond existed. Disappointed, my client hung up the phone.
At the time, I was unaware of the “redemption movement.” I won’t link to any of the sites that describe this movement in (excruciating) detail, because I don’t want to risk encouraging them; if you really want to see them for yourself, just search for “birth certificate bond” and brace yourself. In brief, this conspiracy theory declares—often in bold, italicized large font with poor grammar—that the United States government declared bankruptcy in 1933 when the country went off the gold standard. The bankrupt country, in an effort to prevent foreclosure, pledged all Americans to “International Bankers” as collateral for the national debt. As a result, we are all slaves without even knowing it. And somehow, our birth certificates are floated on the markets as “average value bonds” worth—depending on the “source”—millions or even billions of dollars.
At this point, you probably have questions. Let me try to anticipate and answer them.
What is a bond?
A bond is a security, representing the debt of some entity—typically a government, a government agency, or a corporation. When you buy a bond from the issuer, you are effectively loaning the issuer money. The issuer then pays you interest on that loan, and returns the principal at maturity. Since this is Skeptoid, and not Forbes or the Wall Street Journal, I won’t go into all the bells and whistles that specific types of bonds can carry.
Here’s where we hit the first problem with the claims of redemption movement. Bonds, unless the issuer goes bankrupt, have to pay their principal back eventually. They don’t always pay interest, not in the same way your savings account pays interest (assuming it does, these days), but they have to pay the principal back. The proponents of this “birth certificate bond” nonsense don’t explain how the International Bankers benefit from ownership of these bonds in the slightest. Does interest get paid on the bonds? They don’t say. Do you somehow become cash money, in the form of precious metals, upon death? If not, how do the bonds pay out at maturity? I mean, sure, you can pay off a bond by floating a new issue. But if the birth certificate is a collateralized bond, something has to serve as collateral. Are they saying that, if the US birth rate drops, the International Bankers can seize citizens to cover the debt that doesn’t get refinanced.
Actually, they probably are saying that. I am now utterly depressed by the realization that, if I searched for it, I could probably find some sort of 9/11 Truther-Redemption Movement crossover web site. Or worse, the realization that I may have accidentally spawned such a movement.
What is an “average value bond”?
I’ve got no idea, and I work in the financial sector. Google doesn’t know. Investopedia doesn’t know. Quite literally, the only place I’ve ever seen the term is on these “redemption movement” sites, and they really don’t define it. Reading between the lines, I think they mean the bond is valued at the anticipated earnings of the average American citizen, which sort of makes sense (as much as any of this makes any sense at all). These “bonds” reputedly are valued in the million dollar range, and Education and Lifetime Earnings in the United States estimates the lifetime cumulative earnings of an American as being between $0.5 million and $3.05 million, depending on sex and education.
Let me stress the “sort of” in “sort of makes sense.” None of this really makes any sense.
“International Bankers”—they mean Jews, don’t they?
Well, none of them come right out and say that. But, let’s be honest. There are specific code phrases used in conspiracy literature, and “International Bankers” is pretty much always Jews. Antisemitism is the ugly live-in boyfriend of the conspiracy theorist. Even when they throw him out, he comes crawling back, begging them to take him in and swearing he won’t get drunk and set the couch on fire this time.
What in the world is this “the United States declared bankruptcy” business?
The “redemption movement” literature talks about House Joint Resolution 192 (“To ensure uniform value to the coins and currencies of the United States”). The resolution declared that the requirement of US currency to be redeemable in gold was “inconsistent with the declared policy of the Congress to maintain at all times the equal power of every dollar, coined or issued by the United States, in the markets and in the payment of debts.” The resolution further declared that any payment that was originally to be made in gold could be made in any legal tender, that all obligations of the United States payable in US currency could be paid in any legal tender, and that gold coins below the standard weight “shall be legal tender only at valuation in proportion to their actual weight.”
Why did they do this? A couple of reasons. First, the United States had nearly hit the fourth anniversary of the Crash of 1929 when HJR 192 passed, and the ability to print paper money to cover Federal expenses probably seemed like a good idea. Easing the money supply is one of the standard responses to a recession, after all, and a depression is a recession that’s been doping. But there’s another reason they took this step. Remember how the resolution declared that any payment that was originally to be made in gold could be made in any legal tender? Well, during the Civil War, the United States issued United States Notes. These paper notes were legal tender, but were not redeemable at face value for gold. This put the United States in the awkward position of having two currencies, each with the same face value (gold coins and greenbacks were, in theory, legally the same) but different actual values – as the price of gold moved with market forces, gold-backed dollars became more valuable than the paper-backed greenbacks. HJR 192 eliminated this dual currency, simplifying the banking system at a time when the banking system needed simplifying.
Now, you can certainly argue whether going off the gold standard was a good decision for the economy of the United States. A lot of people have spent a lot of time and energy and ink arguing both sides of that decision in the decades since the resolution was passed. But nothing in the act is a declaration of national bankruptcy. No debt was discharged, no assets of the United States government were liquidated to discharge debt, and no structured payment plans to discharge debt were created.
Is there any truth to this? I could use a couple of million dollars…
Yeah, so could I. But here’s the short answer: no.
Here’s the longer answer, if you want the detail: no. There is no cabal of Jewish bankers who secretly own you and everyone else in the United States. Your birth certificate is not a bond worth millions of dollars. There is no legal way you can obtain the millions of dollars of value your birth certificate does not possess. The United States government, although it has a significant national debt, is not bankrupt. You cannot call a brokerage firm or a bank, declare that you know the secret of the international Jewish bankers who own your life, and lay claim to these millions of nonexistent dollars with a magic phrase. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and you should not believe everything you read on the Internet.