Civil Forfeiture and Boiled Frogs

Is it bad in Obama’s America?  Yes it is, very bad.  Monty Pelerin who wrote with me the article “When government turns predator“, has written another post, “Government Extends Its Tyrannical Role As Predator“, in which he features the question of civil forfeiture.  Reading about this subject makes me wonder if God has put me in Canada for the same reason that he put Joseph in Egypt, “You intended it for evil but God intended it for good,” he said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  For Joseph went to Egypt, and as a result, was able to save his entire family–his aged father and his brothers who hated him, their wives, children and all the servants in their households.  Am I in Canada to be able to save my dear dad and my family from a crisis in the United States, when things go really bad there?

In any case, the question of civil forfeiture appeared in a George Will article, “When the looter is government”, which tells the story of man whose family business is being seized by the Justice Department.  Such forfeiture is obviously a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment due process clause, but damn it, we are talking about the United States of America, a country which operates according to the rule of law, and that is why Stephen Dunn would never renounce his citizenship.  Someone asked me yesterday Stephen shouldn’t be added to our Hall of Shame.   No, I think we need a new award–the Boiled Frog Award for American Panglosses that believe that the United States is the best of all worlds. Are you reading this WhoaIt’sSteve?

Monty linked to two videos and I offer them here below. The impression I have is that the rule of law has broken down at all levels.  Not only can MF Global steal money out of client’s segregated accounts and the bankters can commit mortgage fraud with impunity, but now the local police get in on the act with absolute impunity.  America as an ideal is over.  America as a nightmare has only just begun.  We who are living abroad are the lucky ones.  I almost regret feeling so angry at Americans.

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39 thoughts on “Civil Forfeiture and Boiled Frogs

  1. I might expect this in the 3rd world, especially the last part. That actually happens all the time with lawyers. But in the US. How shocking that this is even legal!

  2. A number of years ago I met a guy who was from New Jersey and was visiting a relative in Canada. He said that as much as he loved the U.S., he said that Canada was “God’s Country”.

  3. The US keeps fighting its “war on drugs” and loses.

    It’s gets ridiculous to the point you have to show ID to buy a single pack of an antihistimine containing pseudoephedrine because I might be running a meth factory.

    It’s the same old US story trying to ban something and you can probably go around the next street corner and get it anyways illegally if you look hard enough.

    It’s like FATCA, people will find ways around it probably through doctored passports or IDs, or a helpful foreign bank manager who makes a mistake about your place of birth.

    I wait for the day when 60 Minuites will walk into a foreign bank with a doctored passport in Europe somewhere and open an account that will not get reported to the IRS. The “FATCA” scandal, the Americans will be appalled those foreigners won’t follow US laws abroad.

    It’s the same with alcohol, I was in a US supermarket and the lady in front of me was about 65. The grey hair and wrinkles did give her away. The cashier asked her for an ID, now coming from Europe you’d never see such non-sense. I laughed and remarked to the cashier “do you have difficulty telling people’s ages it’s pretty obivous the woman is at least 21?” They’re all programmed over there just to keep your head down and your mouth shut. The cashier got all offended and got the manager over to threaten not to serve me. Then the manager said it was state law to ID, and I said NO it wasn’t state law to ID every customer, it was state law not to sell booze to under 21 years olds – there’s a difference.

    You reach a certain age and expect to be treated with some level of respect and not be told by some 21 year old in a supermarket you have to produce an ID for a bottle of wine when it’s apparent you’re over 21.

  4. John, I would lump your example in there with the “overreacting to everything” / “can’t handle criticism” / “lash out at anything that is contrary”.

    If I would have been the store clerk, I would have just said “yeah, wouldn’t you figure!” – but you see their reactions. Very predictable.

  5. BTW, the whole mentality of the United States has become putting a fence around the law. That is, they are trying to fence in the law with new laws to make it impossible to break the first law. So we make it so that everyone has to show ID so that no one can break the under 19 drinking age. We have to do FBAR so that no one can laundering money or hide income in Foreign Banks, but that didn’t work, so we create FATCA, another law that is supposed to stop people from laundering money. The current system of laws in the United States clearly is outdoing the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.

    They don’t see what they are doing: they are killing freedom and giving too much power to the authorities, and they destroying themselves.

  6. Like the gentleman says, “I really don’t want to go back” to the excited states of America. Have you been following what’s happening in N Carolina re the illegalization of gay marriage there? Once you get the law behind you it’s easy for a gay hater to call for a homosexual concentration camp, as one minister is calling for. Disgraceful. My husband suggested we wear star-spangled banner stars on our lapels.

  7. @ bubblebustin
    I hope if you wear the stars and stripes on your lapel that you wear it upside down to indicate a nation in distress. I’d wear my little Canadian flag pin that way but you’d have to get real close to realize it is upside down.

  8. @ bubblebusting
    RE: My husband suggested we wear star-spangled banner stars on our lapels.”

    See last paragraph of this comment from Opinino Juris!

    “Here is Canadian perspective, based on the equality under law that all Canadians have under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.FATCA would make US-born Canadians second-class citizens in their own country. This would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Human Rights Act, along with well-established principles of sovereignty, Canadian bank laws, and Canadian court judgments regarding banking and foreign tax revenue claims.

    If Canadian financial institutions, with the complicity of the Canadian government, single out certain customers by birthplace, irrespective of actual economic activity, location of assets, residence or physical presence, it’s discrimination based on nationality or ethnic origin. And it exposes these individuals to harm. Canadians born in the US have no exemption from the protection of Canadian law; all Canadians are equal under the Charter, regardless of place of birth.

    Any Canadian government assistance in enforcement of the foreign law FATCA would adversely affect US-born Canadian citizens who earn, bank and invest solely in Canada – long-term Canadian taxpayers with no US economic ties or presence. This includes Canadians who were simply born there while parents were visiting, or through cross-border hospital arrangements, and Canadian-born children of US-born Canadians. These individuals would likely mount a challenge based on the Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Let’s be clear. Whether this involves Canadian banks getting away with a soft-pedaled, less-than-diligent electronic search for US birthplace… or tagging US-born Canadians with a red, white and blue star on their garments…the principle is the same.”

  9. Ain’t that the truth. I wrote a similarly worded letter to the CBA. Response was that they don’t know what’s expected of them yet. What would the IRS be without the element of surprise?

  10. @ Wondering
    Very good! I see I may have misinterpreted Blaze’s lapel pin reference but no matter, either way, a message is sent.

  11. @geeze – From the American point of view, yes I’m overreacting because I’m pointing out the ridiculous. The US has lost its ability to make use of common sense. Asking for ID is a small point but equally a UK publican would be laughed out of his pub if he wouldn’t serve a 65 year old for not producing an ID.

    Petros’ point of creating a law for everything is spot on. If you read a book “Collapse of American Criminal Justice” this is the very point the author makes. The US is seriously reaching the point where is so easy to break the law, everyone is a criminal and placed at the mercy of plea-bargaining fine and penalty system.

  12. @John, Actually it’s not just a law for everything: it is law fenced in by laws to make sure you follow the law, fenced in by millions of rules and procedures (I’m thinking here of the Internal Revenue Manual, which is a rule book about how to implement the thousands of pages of the IRS code, which is itself based upon the one real law, the 16th Amendment which permits congress to tax incomes.

    Putting a fence around the law is a special kind of mentality which is the opposite of freedom. It puts restricts on behavior and creates a superstructure of procedure which is designed to keep people from not even so much as accidentally breaking the law–but instead is a burden which makes people unhappy slaves of the law.

  13. Hey Petros I just wanted to apologize for calling you a jerk, it was immature, the Tennessee thing is stupid I saw the story before, the officer is a numbskull. The other story just shows why “drugs” should be legalized and taxed. I do believe in a few Libertarian principle’s, smaller Federal Government, less of their intervention in my daily life, more power at State level.

    I don’t believe the US is the best country on Earth, I believe the US is among the greatest nation’s on Earth, and the best for me, from my experience’s.

  14. A few weeks ago on Fox they had a nutty girl on who vehemently opposed the use of the “I” word. That’s I for illegal aliens. She kept insisting that the world illegal was dehumanizing and should be banned.

    I say we set up an interview with Fox and demand that foreign banks stop using the “A” word. A is for American. We don’t like how they look at Americans. They should be banned from ever mentioning it.

  15. @OMG: Great idea. I would love to hear that discussion on Fox.

    How about it Petros? Will you again be our spokesperson on the topic of our Scarlet Letter A? You’re becoming famous.

    @Whoa: I can’t speak for Petros, but I appreciate your apology to him. For the record, I personally didn’t like Petros asking you if you were mental because of your views about the US. I hope we can all stay away from name calling each other and stick to the issues. Even though I often don’t agree with you, I appreciate you hanging out with us and trying to see some things from a different perspective.

  16. @all

    About two years ago – before the IRS Jihad started and before FATCA was a known fear, I concluded that I wanted nothing more to do with the U.S.

    Here – in a nutshell is why. After watching the Conrad Black thing, the Martha Stewart thing (and I am sure others) I came to the following conclusion.

    The U.S. is obsessed with laws upon laws upon laws. Most of the laws have no moral basis, but in the minds of the Homelanders – the morality is actually the fact that it is the law. So, in other words, once some idiotic thing is turned into a law, that somehow gives it moral force. Ridiculous.

    The U.S. is obsessed with crime. The easiest way to reduce the amount of crime is to reduce the number of laws. I assure you nobody would miss them. Because of the sheer number of laws, every person in the U.S. is a criminal of some kind or another. The only issue, is who they want to come after. I can guarantee you that there is not a living breathing person in the U.S. who is not in violation of some law or another.

    So:

    In the U.S. – the morality is the fact that it is the law.

    To reduce crime, they just need to reduce law.

    Especially in the area of our favorite kind of crime: “Form Crime”.

  17. @WhoaIt’sSteve: It takes integrity to apologize for an error, bravo.

    Re the Tennessee case, yes it was wrong, and all too often this happens because people don’t know their rights when pulled over.
    The driver had every right to refuse to answer the question about carrying cash, and he had no obligation to allow the officer to search his car. He could legally say, “Are you detaining me, sir, or am I free to go?” and “I am not resisting, sir, but I do not agree to allow a search without a warrant.” There is nothing the officer could do then except bluster, threaten and lie, because you are not required to answer any questions unrelated to the driving offense (you are required to produce ID if asked) nor to allow a search without a warrant.
    People tend to over-comply to appear cooperative, but police often are looking for a chance to find something or even, in some cases, plant something while doing a search. Yes it happens.
    There are several videos on Youtube about this and they are worth watching, to understand your rights when a policeman pulls you over for a traffic offense. Google Know Your Rights and you’ll find a lot about your rights in both the US and Canada.

  18. @WhoaIt’sSteve, I took no offense to you calling me a jerk because I can’t be too offended by what I know is probably mostly true. I’m pretty desensitized to that level of name calling. As a matter of principle, though, I am very happy to have your input in the comments, especially when we disagree. It keeps it from being an echo chamber. It keeps it from being an echo chamber.

    I am very livid about this Ex Patriot Act. The desire to get revenge on expats is really mentally ill in my view; so I’m just saying what I think regarding this view that Americans will be happiest in America. And my apologies to Blaze for offending her by calling Steve mental.

  19. @Petros: Thank you. Now, about OMG’s suggestion that we contact Fox News about our offense at the A (American) word being imposed on us by our own banks.

    She may have been just joking, but I think the idea has some merit, considering they already did a segment on the I word for illegal immigrant. We could frame it as the modern day version of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (which, as you know, was also an “A”).

    I can envision you on Fox wearing your Scarlet Letter. I won’t lend you my Brock uniform for that because the Scarlet Letter would blend it too much against the Redcoat. The fireworks from that interview would rival both July 1 and July 4!

  20. @renounce, I totally agree with you, there are just too many laws that serve no purpose but to define new crimes.

    I think that the US is obsessed with law and crime because in the end they are obsessed with safety. I remember I was once is a swimming pool with my family and heavy clouds started to form. The lifeguards immediately forced everyone outside of the pool. But this is not only US behavior, I was once in Israel and officers in public areas were constantly asking people if their bags belonged to them. Could this obsession with safety explain why the US and Israel are often involved with wars? Safety is important, and it’s hard to define at which point it becomes excessive.

  21. This is very similar to FBAR fines. In fact, the same law that created the FBAR restricts the withdrawal of more than $10,000 in cash, inside the US. It seems that this is a widespread problem, not restricted to expatriates. I it also not new or restricted to the US. Many cities have old laws, now unenforced, restricting the way people can address others in public or what they can carry in and out of the city. Singapore prohibits chewing gum. China prohibits most couples from having more than one child. Canada prohibits doctors from accepting payments from insured patients, even if both agree. Most countries prohibit driving a vehicle or working in some professions without a license. Many countries restrict the sale of substances and weapons, even if they are legal. All these laws have valid purposes and most people agree with them, but they don’t see the problems that these laws create until they are affected themselves.

    The man in the video said that he could not believe that such a thing could happen in the US. For me, if anything good has come out of the whole crackdown on US expatriates, it was to make me realize that any government has absolute power. It doesn’t really matter if those in government are granted power by birth, appointment or election, they can still do whatever they want. The only solution I see is to try to convince them by logic or empathy.

  22. “No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”

    – Mark Twain

  23. Maybe big “A” could go over the face for radio. I’m not sure I should go on TV. Perhaps I could ask Tertia to appear with me–but she was born in Canada.

  24. Thanks bubble, i must have missed that post. Re being stopped by police, knowing the law and what your rights are just makes sense, and if the police know you are up on that, they will be more likely to leave you alone. They need to intimidate people to get them to give up their rights, and I suspect most cops know something about that. If you know your rights and can assert them clearly but politely, they won’t waste their time on you.
    I hope.

  25. @foxy, I agree. I just want to avoid the opportunity to try. I don’t know how brave I’d be with a trooper standing by my window with a handgun in full view. I’d be inclined to make the encounter as short as possible, bleeeettttt!

  26. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/25/nyregion/albany-times-union-editor-says-police-targeted-his-wifes-spa.html?_r=1

    I found this article on Yahoo news. Some people are saying that “civil forfeture” is just plain wrong in the comments in the yahoo article (but the link is toooo long to post here). If you ask me, this IS a case of retaliation.

    I saw a case some years back where the FBI apparently raided a guys house. The guy was simple in his late 50’s; he had been saving money all of this life. He didn’t trust banks so he literally kept the money under the mattress ($400,000). The FBI found 1 marijuana joint in his house, so they confiscated the money even though 1 marijuana joint doesn’t necessarily indicate drug dealing activity.

    The message I get from all of this is: “If you have it, we’ll find a way to [legally] take it.” America has really turned into a scary place. Even here, in the 3rd world, we see corruption all the time, but at least people still have some rights, which no one can deny. Things can be a little chaotic here at time, but people don’t fear the government.

    These seem to be depressing times. The US, with all of its values and morals of the past, is turning into a tyrannical 3rd world country, right in front of our eyes.

  27. @geez, you know how bad things are when you hear that almost 900,000 US war vets are waiting 6 months or more for disability claim reviews, two years for disputes. When wars go unfunded you can expect this. It’s a disgrace.

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