VAULTS ACROSS TEXAS

June 8, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

MY BACK YARD – Just dig a big hole, dump the bars in here, cover them up, and the problem is solved. I won’t charge the state more than, say, 100K a year. What a savings for Texas. In case you missed the story, let me back up. The State of Texas has been storing its gold in a bullion depository (banks), and the banks are charging us a small fortune each year to keep it. This raises a slew of questions which we shall try to sort out and come up with a solution.

First, did you even know the State of Texas had gold in any form, lots of it, totaling more than $1 billion? No one told us, and there is probably a very good reason for that, which would explain nothing. Another question: Where is our fortune? The end of the rainbow is mostly stashed in New York City banks and some “may” be stored in Delaware. May? This story gets stranger and stranger. We’ve got gold, some in banks where it may or may not be? Who’s watching the store?

Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst, Republican of Brenham, that’s who. She is quoted as saying, “The state has gold, and several years ago (the University of Texas Investment Management Corp. or UTIMCO) purchased just under a billion dollars’ worth of gold.” Kolkhorst said UTIMCO in March had 5,610 gold bars in its portfolio, an investment worth $645 million, and was being charged a storage fee of $108 per bar by a bullion depository in New York City, a total cost of more than $605,000 a year.

Why does UT have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in gold hidden in New York City vaults, while the school is constantly raising tuition, all the time whining to the legislature that UT needs more state money? What does a decent halfback cost these days? (Harvard came under Congressional scrutiny awhile back when it was noted tuition was $45,278 plus room and board, while the school had an endowment of $36.4 billion.) Is UT’s fortune in gold what’s really the cause of so much infighting among the regents, a chancellor or two, and presidents? UT thought it had hired an Oxford don as its president-for-the-day and was issuing all sorts of glowing press releases, when the guy stiffed Bevo and went to work at NYU. Maybe the Longhorns woldn’t give him the combination to the safe.

Remember that the UT fortune is only part of the stash. Who knows how much gold generated by DPS speeding fines and confiscated pelts from poachers are also parked there? To solve this problem a bill was introduced in this session of the state legislature, and passed almost unanimously, to create a Texas Bullion Depository under the authority of Comptroller Glenn Hegar “at a site not yet determined.” The piggy bank would hold gold and rubies and bribes to our state bureaucrats, and would be open — so to speak – to private citizens who wish to hide cash from the IRS and nosey relatives. The state would charge a modest fee to citizens, a nice business deal for all. Of course, the powerful bank lobby would oppose this for fear of losing banks’ income from safety deposit boxes, although it would be inconvenient to travel 45 miles outside Marfa to retrieve your treasures.

As mentioned, all of this is news to most Texans, and raises even more questions. Where would this “site not yet determined” be? There is already a vault in the basement of the Capitol, complete with a huge door, but the last time I checked it had been converted into a lawmaker’s office. No doubt most of the banks in Texas would be fighting for a chance to land that load. But the bill indicates that a state depository is the way to go. We could store it in the basement of the Governor’s Mansion, but as we have seen, the place was guarded by one state trooper who had already put in a full day at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. What’s more, most of the Mansion’s video cameras didn’t work, Former Gov. Rick Perry, his wife and their entourage of DPS troopers were touring Europe, so that beautiful 159-year-old Mansion almost burned to the ground.

How about putting those stacks of bullion in the Alamo, where we could visit the treasure? No, as we have noted earlier, the U.N. might confiscate all of it. Maybe build a concrete bunker, disguised as an English pub, way out in the boonies and call it Karats–in-the-Sticks. Gov. Greg Abbott and his followers are afraid the Pentagon is going to take over Texas, so we have a handy list of paranoid Texans with backyard bomb shelters which we could use as storerooms.

We might take a lesson from the federal government (stop cursing). The United States Bullion Depository, located at Fort Knox in Kentucky, next to the U.S. Army’s tank base, was built in the late 1930s to hold the nation’s gold reserves, and has never been robbed. Or so we are told. Has anyone actually seen that gold? What if a TV crew from “60 Minutes” finally gets permission to film our horde, the guards open the vault doors and – the room is empty? I think we can all blame Obama.

No other state has its own state bullion depository, so could turn a buck by safeguarding gold from all the other states. This precludes our depository from looking like, say, a giant cactus or a longhorn. We could put up a big warning sign, but a glittering neon reading, “Don’t Mess With Texas Gold” might turn off the treasurer from Ohio. Whatever we do, it will be better than shelling out hundreds of thousands of tax dollars each year to some Manhattan moneymen to safeguard our fortune. Sen. Kolkhorst observed: “New York will hate this.” Hehehe. Senator, what’s your point?

 

Ashby is golden at ashby2@comcast.net

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