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All debtes public and private

At 8:36 PM 9/9/96, [email protected] wrote:
>This may be a hopelessly naive question, but is it possible to refuse
>payment in
>cash? Is it really good for all debts public and private?

There is probably a FAQ on this, as it gets asked and debated so often.
>From my reading of too many posts on too many lists about this issue, here
are some misc. points:

* First, anyone may specify what form of payment they want to be paid in,
in advance of a transaction. Alice may demand payment in gold, in platinum,
in barrels of oil, or in Blatislavan Yarts. Bob is free to decline her

(A common example is a sign saying "No bills over $20 accepted." Thus, if
Bob fills his gas tank and then says "Here's a thousand-dollar bill...I
hope you have change," he cannot escape his debt simply because the gas
station does not make change for $1000 bills. If there is no sign, and the
$1K note is offered....well, I don't know what would happen. Maybe there's
been a case like this... Certainly the debt is not discharged merely
because the payment cannot be accepted at the time....)

* Second, once a debt has been incurred--as when a restaurant meal has been
consumed, a gas tank filled, etc.--and absent any special arrangements for
the payment to be in some special form, the debt is considered discharged
if payment in legal tender (dollars) is offered. That is, the debtor can
offer dollars. If the merchant demands Blatislavan Yarts, the State will
not consider the debtor in default for not paying in Yarts. (Again, absent
a contractual agreement.)

* Third, a merchant is free to not let a transaction go to completion at
the point of sale (e.g., the cash register, for physical goods being
purchased) if the form of payment is not acceptable to him. (The case of a
gas tank already being filled, a restaurant meal already being eaten is
more complicated, with an "implied contract" being involved. Absent signs
or agreements clearly announced, the assumption is that dollars are the
means of settlement.)

* Fourth, the main reason for the "legal tender for all debts public and
private" statement appears to be linked to efforts to stamp out private,
bank-issued currencies.

* Fifth, there are various books on alternative currencies,
denationalization of money, and such issues. Basically, trying to introduce
a new currency is not likely to be strongly supported by the legal system.

--Tim May

We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."