Saturday, March 21, 2015

What’s Yours...Isn’t

     I suppose it’s time to head back to the salt mine. After all, the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch might find their moods improving and their blood pressure de-escalating otherwise, right? Right?

     I don’t read Zero Hedge nearly as often as I should:

     Imagine going to the bank to withdraw some cash.

     Having some cash on hand is always a prudent strategy, and especially today when more and more bank deposits are creeping into negative territory, meaning that you have to pay the banks for the privilege that they gamble with your money.

     You tell the teller that you’d like to withdraw $5,000 from your account. She hesitates nervously and wants to know why.

     You try to politely let her know that that’s none of the bank’s business as it’s your money.

     The teller disappears for a few minutes, leaving you waiting.

     When she returns she tells you that you can collect your money in a few days as they don’t have it on hand at the moment.

     Slightly irritated because of the inconvenience, you head home.

     But as you pull into your driveway later there’s an unexpected surprise waiting for you: two police officers would like to have a word with you about your intended withdrawal earlier…

     It might not be local cops, either. We’re talking about federal action here. So they might be Justice Department agents. Possibly even FBI types. And all you need to do to land in prison is say something to a fed that some federal prosecutor can construe as an attempt to deceive him – a federal crime under the United States Code. Ask Martha Stewart and Lewis “Scooter” Libby about their experiences in that regard.

     With the costs of everything under the Sun rising steadily as the Federal Reserve weakens the dollar, Americans are becoming frantic about finding ways to save a few bucks. One way to do so is to hold cash and inquire discreetly into whether the vendor or artisan with whom you’re transacting would offer a cash discount. Many will do so upon request. But the price of the item or service involved must be substantial: typically four or more digits to the left of the decimal point.

     Thinking of buying new windows or vinyl siding? Perhaps a new driveway or a backyard fence? What about having central air conditioning or a generator put in?

     Even if you’re not in the market for some “consumer durable,” you might be thinking of going to the precious metals to retard the deterioration of your dollars. Many Americans have done so in recent years. But such transactions are almost always conducted in cash, whether as a wire transfer or by counting out actual greenbacks. And the federal government is very interested in knowing who’s making such purchases.

     Scared yet?

     Privacy as a reliable fact of life is gone.

     It’s been some time since the intrusions escalated from relative nuisances, such as the requirement for a permit to add a deck to the back of your home, to genuine threats to freedom such as the “suspicious activity report.” As with so many other aspects of the loss of our liberty, the key to the process was gradualism: taking thin slices of the freedom salami, spaced some time apart, so as not to alarm ordinary folks into going for their pitchforks. We’re near the terminus of the process today. If we judge by the old definition of property as the right to exclude others from access or appropriation, there’s essentially no private property left in these United States.

     Maybe that spring-assisted folding knife in your hip pocket qualifies as entirely and only yours...but don’t be seen fiddling with it when a “law enforcement officer” is nearby. They frown on such things, don’t y’know. You’d probably go home without it.

     Say, weren’t street predators – rapists, muggers, and the like – a lot rarer back when no gentleman would be seen in public without his sword? But I digress.

     As the prices of goods and services escalate, there will be more, not less, federal intrusion into what we once regarded as our routine transactions with one another. Indeed, one of the reasons the feds are not unhappy about the deterioration of the dollar is that it justifies precisely such intrusions. The War on Drugs has been immensely useful to the statists for that reason, though it’s done nothing to reduce the consumption of illegal narcotics, cocaine, Ecstasy, and the like.

     If you pay attention to the news, you’ve surely read an article or two about “policing for profit:” the use of the War on Drugs to justify arbitrary seizures, whether of “suspicious” cash or of real estate where a drug transaction might have once taken place, from wholly innocent Americans. In that particular case, local “law enforcement” has led the pack. However, the feds are right behind them in their exploitation of the highly convenient “asset forfeiture” laws.

     What’s that you say? Asset forfeiture is an important tool for fighting “drug crime?” Sorry, both the practice and the results speak otherwise. It’s more about “deficit reduction”...but not the sort of deficit of which a naive sort would be thinking.

     For all the odium I and other commentators heap upon the Obamunists, we can’t lay this entirely upon them. It started a long time ago, under Richard Nixon. The legal theory upon which it was justified is that an inanimate object can be guilty of breaking the law, and so can be detained, indicted, and tried as if it were a living man. Think about that for a moment.

     Gives a whole new meaning to those jokes about “guns running amok,” doesn’t it? But that is indeed the legal theory behind asset forfeiture, whether the asset is a physical item such as your home or a more abstract one such as your life savings.

     Now about those IRAs and 401(k) accounts...

     Oh, never mind. All stand for the Pledge. And have a happy Saturday.


Joseph said...

Civil forfeiture can make other government abuses much harder to stop. In Western Civilization, the executive has traditionally been controlled by means of the purse strings. For example, the British monarchy was at its absolute most following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when King Henry VIII hijacked church property. If civil forfeiture enables many government departments to operate without tax funds, they can be zeroed out by Congress but continue anyway.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to the bank to withdraw $5,000, your first mistake was in allowing $5,000 to accumulate in the bank. Same goes for investments. The best investment you can make today is a nice heavy safe in which to put all your cash, or preferably, gold. As for the bank? Paycheck goes in, cash comes out. To use the bank as anything more than a glorified check casher today is foolish. Old habits are apparently hard to break, because I hear about people and their "bank accounts" all the time. It's astounding to me. If your money is in an account, it's being watched and controlled by other people. Would you allow another entity to hold and control any of your other important assets? Why then would you do it with the most basic, critical one, your wealth? Hold on to your cash, and use it instead of easily-traceable forms of payment at every opportunity.

FrozenPatriot said...

Is it time yet to start shooting the bastards?

If not now, when? When we are older, weaker, and have even fewer means?

If not us, who? The generations behind us who know little of liberty and responsibility, but much of licentiousness, sloth, and entitlement?

If not because of this (and the endless list of other abuses and usurpations), than what? When the remainder of our property (retirement accounts included), is seized and we no longer possess the means to procure pitchforks and torches and high powered rifles?

These are not rhetorical questions.

We outnumber them, outgun them, and surround them. They have no avenue of egress, and yet we do nothing to destroy those whose mission allows them to steal, rape, pillage, kidnap, cage, enslave, and murder. We allow these "public servants" to steamroll us, our loved ones, and our liberties without accountability or retribution. Dog trainers and parents know the limits are always being tested and pushed. Without sharp and sometimes painful corrections, canines, teenagers, and aspiring tyrants will all run amok, and the effort required to return them to civility increases dramatically.