What Deference Does it Make?

May 5, 2014

By: Kelly Diamond, Publisher

eminent domainHave you heard the catch phrases “taxation is theft” or “inflation is taxation”?  While they are quite accurate in their depictions, there is a bigger picture to the theft perpetrated by the state… especially in the United States.

Let’s put the taxes and quantitative easing aside for the moment (not a very long moment, but just long enough to clear a little space for the other forms of state sanctioned theft some of us might not even consider). When you are done reading what follows, throw taxes and QE back into the mix, and take a look at the entire scheme.  If you aren’t at the very least shaking your head at the dismal picture before you, then sweet dreams in your coma.

Policing for Profit & Civil Forfeiture

Agents of the state are swooping in and confiscating people’s property, and the due process which once provided even a small modicum of protection against such tyranny is slowly being chipped away.  This is the erosion of our rights to due process and reasonable expectation of privacy… but that’s happening in Pennsylvania.  If the wide-spread militarization of the police is any indication, we can expect that same lax approach to our right to due process to spread throughout the states: it’s just a matter of time.  Basically, probable cause has supplanted the need for a warrant.  This is paving the way for asset seizures, and there need not be a single reason for it.

Following are examples of policing for profit.  All this is done in the name of law, order and safety.  Look at the angle being used in any Google searched article pertaining to searches and it’s always something to do with drugs, money laundering, and of course “terrorism”.

This has the reader thinking that’s who will feel the brunt of this legislation or ruling from the courts.  That’s not who it ensnares.  When fishermen drag their nets, they don’t do it in such a way that only the most succulent shrimp get caught.  They catch all the shrimp they can get and categorize them.  That’s why you’ll see shrimp priced differently according to size and weight: how many per pound.  But they don’t simply throw back the ones that aren’t as large back into the ocean.

In this story of Kearnice Overton, some cops in Iowa decided to confiscate nearly $40,000 from an innocent man for simply having it.  They assumed he was engaging in some sort of illegal activities.  No proof.  Not even probable cause short of just having that much cash on his person at the time of a routine traffic stop.

“Iowa’s civil forfeiture laws make it difficult for innocent property owners to win in court, according to the Institute for Justice’s report, “Policing for Profit.” Owners have to prove their innocence to prevail. The government can forfeit property if it shows that it is linked to criminal activity by a preponderance of the evidence. That is a much lower evidentiary standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used for criminal convictions.”

Not only is there a presumption of guilt, but there is also a very feeble burden for the prosecution to meet to “prove” guilt.  The same thing is true for Gerald Bryan who had cops break into his home and steal close to $5,000.  He was later exonerated… and by later I mean ONE YEAR later.  The case was dismissed, and his money was gone.  It was put into a police pension fund, as a matter of fact.

Finally, there’s Terry Dehko and Sandy Thomas of Michigan.

“Federal law, aimed primarily at money laundering by drug dealers, requires banks to report cash deposits of more than $10,000. It also makes it illegal to “structure” deposits to evade such reporting.

“Because 35 percent of Schott’s Supermarket’s receipts are in cash, Terry and Sandy make frequent trips to the bank to avoid tempting actual criminals by having large sums at the store. Besides, their insurance policy covers no cash loss in excess of $10,000.”

“On Jan. 22, 2013, Terry and Sandy discovered that the IRS had obtained a secret warrant and emptied the store’s bank account.”

Terry and Sandy had the benefit of Institute for Justice’s defense and received their entire amount back.  But not everyone is as lucky, and how sad is it that our justice system is like a mail-rebate now: They take the money up front and you have to go through the obnoxious hoops to get it back!  Sadly, for some, it’s cheaper to let the money go than to fight to get it back.  They couldn’t afford to lose the money in the first place, and now they absolutely can’t afford to pay to fight for it back!

As a matter of semantics, the definition of forfeit is:

1. A fine; penalty.

2. Something to which the right is lost, as for commission of a crime or misdeed, neglect of duty, or violation of a contract.

Yet, in each of these cases, the property owners committed no crime or misdeed.  There was no neglect of duty or violation of contract.  The state is playing a little fast and loose once again with the words.  Semantically, calling this a “civil forfeiture” is a misnomer as there is nothing civil about it, and this does not meet the semantic burden to be considered a “forfeiture”… but it does meet the burden of being a confiscation… and, for the intellectually BRUTALLY honest, theft.

Eminent Domain

Here’s a constitutional peach people often overlook.  Eminent domain is not only constitutional and legal, but the Supreme Court ruled in a 2005 decision, Kelo vs. City of New London, governments can seize property to increase potential tax revenues.

This landmark case – if you’ll pardon the insensitive pun – conflates “public use” (which is the original wording and intent of Amendment 5) with “public purpose” where there need not be any demonstrable benefit to the entire community.  So while a railway might arguably offer some public benefit, a stadium would not.

In her dissenting opinion, Justice O’Connor rightly points out the upward redistribution of wealth and property: “Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded—i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public—in the process.”

Consider the dire implications of that ruling for just a second.  What does this mean for working and middle class people?  They play by the rules, do what’s right, manage to save up for a home of their own, and BOOM!  They are hit with a notice from the city saying their property is necessary for a new shopping mall with luxury apartments and a new stadium.  Why?  Because MORE tax revenue can be garnered from new developments than from low to middle class housing.

No longer is eminent domain a matter of building a road that could facilitate trade and reduce traffic for commuters; or maybe pipelines to facilitate energy independence; or even a school or park.  (I don’t condone ANY forcible theft of property, but to at least stick to the original intent of the 5th Amendment would be better than simply making private property subject to the profits of the municipality in which it exists.)

Eminent domain is a marvelously reprehensible tool in the arsenal of crony capitalists or corporatists.  This is also the altruistic “greater good” philosophy being put under the light and exposed for what it really is.

Government confiscates more from the rich, no one bats an eye.

That same government confiscates a working class neighborhood, and the crowd all of a sudden gets uppity over property right?

This is one of the myriad reasons for my ardent and unwavering position on property right: I will defend it for the ridiculously wealthy as much as I will for the indigent living in abject poverty as much as I will for everyone in between.  This is the government creating losers where at one point everyone was winning.  This is the government preempting the win-win of capitalism in favor of a distorted win-lose of corporatism; all under the guise of “the greater good” I might add.

By the way, “greater good” translates into all of this being done by elected officials IN YOUR NAME.  Check out a few examples here, and might I recommend also getting very familiar with this because as  the government becomes more desperate, they will go after anything they can:

Atlantic Yards: Turns out the contractor for this job that was petitioning for the city to invoke eminent domain also owned the New Jersey Nets at the time… And what were they going to build in Brooklyn?  A new stadium for…………………. The Brooklyn Nets!

One notable victim that got caught in the crosshairs of all this politicking was Freddy’s.  This was an establishment that has been hailed as one of the area’s best bars.  A neighborhood hot spot, it was also right in the midst of the Atlantic Yards project.

Strobel Family: So the Seven Sisters Strobel dared to have a diner called “Meal Makers”.  Said diner failed to meet the city’s arbitrary 5-star standards for that particular area, so the city planners decided to make “damn sure” a road was set to run right through their restaurant just to get rid of it!

The court admitted that the city planner was deliberately doing this for no other reason than to spite the diner.  It even admitted that the road did not HAVE to be built right through the diner.  But rather than provide a check against abuse of power, they decided to err on the side of deference and give the city as much latitude as it needed to satisfy the city’s “greater good” appetite.

This is greed plain and simple.  Greed isn’t some rich dude who earned his wealth keeping it.  Greed is looking over into another man’s plate and wanting to STEAL it for your own personal gain.  It is an egregious violation of such a fundamental right: the right to property.

Government confiscations from bank accounts or the outright confiscation of real estate is devastating.  These are people’s investments.  This is no different than when the Cypriot banks dipped into pensioner accounts to bail out the banks.  What difference does it make what form the property takes?  Or where it is being stored or held?  At the end of the day, they are the same act: government seizing the investments of private citizens for the gain of the state or another crony entity.

Do what you can to protect your assets.  These accounts are real.  These are REAL victims in America losing their investments and their wealth to nothing more than a municipal whim.

 

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