The vendors’ hall at this year’s state GOP convention was a magical Candyland for the Texas patriot’s soul. Flag-draped attendees posed next to a life-size Donald Trump, pressed an Abraham Lincoln impersonator for his thoughts on states’ rights, and took a journey of the mind through a miniature Texas Bullion Depository, where the state might someday house its sovereign wealth.
Despite the enormous headshots of state officials in an accompanying brochure, the diorama was not official business — at least not yet. It was the work of Texas Precious Metals, a Shiner-based wholesaler led by a former contestant on The Apprentice. The company hopes to build the real thing for the state.
A Texas Precious Metals representative at the convention stressed that the mock-up had been built at no cost to taxpayers. Some corners of the roofline were crumbling, trees leaned precariously. But the effect it conjured was priceless. Imagine, the scene suggested, loading up the kids in the family SUV, cruising out to whichever town is someday blessed to host the depository, and paying solemn tribute to the little place that brought the Fed to its knees.
To doomsday preppers, it’s a compelling fantasy. But it’s also state law. Thanks to legislation championed in 2015 by state Representative Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, the state comptroller is now soliciting ideas for how, exactly, it ought to establish the nation’s first state-run depository. More than a dozen responses have come back.
Texas Precious Metals argues that the facility should be “a monument of the state of Texas.” Even in detailed renderings, its “monument” looks more suburban bank branch than Fort Knox. But size was never quite the point. Back in 2013, Capriglione suggested Texas could store its gold in just 20 square feet. That would be enough, he said, to ensure that our gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium never falls into the hands of a foreign power.
The prospect impressed at least one man at the convention, who took a long look and exclaimed, “Wait’ll James Bond tries to get in there!”
The real target of this paranoia, of course, wasn’t the queen or MI6, but Uncle Sam. The gold in question belongs to the University of Texas Investment Management Company, or UTIMCO, which holds about $678 million in gold bars, stored at considerable expense in a New York City bank. Upon signing the bill, Governor Greg Abbott promised that the gold could come home once Texas’ depository was built.
But Capriglione’s vision is much bigger. He imagines local governments and individuals will also buy precious metals to store in the new facility. They’ll buy and sell goods backed by the gold. And like a pied piper making a sales pitch on Fox News at 3 a.m., Texas will convince other states to follow suit. The Federal Reserve will lie in ruins, and freedom will reign again.
In early 2016, Tennessee lawmakers passed a nonbinding resolution in favor of a state bullion depository. An Oklahoma state senator proposed a depository to house that state’s sizeable hoard. And in Wyoming, a similar bill was carried by a lawmaker who previously suggested reclaiming federal land, drafting a state army, and buying some jets and an aircraft carrier, just to stay prepared.
It may be little more than a fantasy, but a goldbug can dream.