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Arizona weighs gold, silver coins as legal tender

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By The Arizona Republic
Saturday, April 20, 2013, 8:24 p.m.

PHOENIX — It may be time for Arizonans who have invested in gold and silver to take their stockpiles of coins out of hiding and get ready to put them to use.

If some of the state's more conservative politicians get their way, someday soon shoppers could conceivably be able to plunk down precious metal to pay for groceries, buy a new car or pay a traffic fine.

Arizona is on track to become the second state in the nation to recognize gold and silver coins as legal tender. It would join Utah as part of a conservative movement arising out of a lack of confidence in the Federal Reserve and a fear that paper money could become virtually worthless as U.S. debt deflates the value of the dollar.

Supporters consider the move a potential financial savior and envision a day when residents can carry debit cards funded by the gold they hold in special depositories.

Miles Lester, who represents a group called Arizona Constitutional Advocates, said during a recent public hearing on legal-tender legislation that “the dollar is on its way out. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.”

Economists question the stability of gold and silver as an alternative to currency, noting that the value of gold in particular has tumbled precipitously in just the past week. Opponents call the movement crazy, a waste of legislative time and nearly impossible to implement. Utah has had the law on its books for two years and still has no organized system for spending and accepting gold and silver.

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