One Story That Tells Us Everything We Need To Know About Government

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Posted: Nov 09, 2021 1:29 PM
One Story That Tells Us Everything We Need To Know About Government

Source: Paul Valade /Daily Herald via AP

Civil asset forfeiture occurs when bureaucrats literally steal a person’s property when the person hasn’t been convicted – or perhaps not even charged – of any wrongdoing.

Citing a nauseating example of this odious practice, I wrote back in 2014 that all decent and moral people should be libertarians.

I was exaggerating, of course, so allow me to share a different statement that is completely accurate: Supporters of civil asset forfeiture (also known as “policing for profit“) are neither decent nor moral.

Indeed, they are bad people who support thuggish and unfair mistreatment of their fellow citizens.

If you think I’m being too dogmatic about this issue, here are some excerpts from a story in the New York Times by Michael Levenson.

When Kermit Warren lost his job shining shoes during the Covid-19 pandemic last year, he and his son took his life savings of nearly $30,000 to buy a tow truck to support Mr. Warren’s longtime side business of collecting scrap metal. …As Mr. Warren walked through security at the airport in Columbus, Ohio, the screeners asked him about the money… At the gate, just before Mr. Warren and his son boarded their flight, three agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration asked Mr. Warren about the cash. …The agents soon suspected that Mr. Warren was carrying illegal drug money and seized the cash. …“I never knew in my whole 58 years as a man in the United States that three D.E.A. agents could take a man’s money from him that he worked for, and not had committed any kind of crime, or was arrested for doing any type of wrongdoing,” Mr. Warren said… “How could they just take my money from me like that?” …The practice is a popular way to raise revenue but has been easily abused and widely criticized for depriving people of their right to due process and for disproportionately affecting poor people and people of color like Mr. Warren, who is Black.

Fortunately, this awful story has a happy ending.

…the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm…sued the D.E.A. and the Transportation Security Administration, accusing the agencies of seizing travelers’ money without probable cause. …On Thursday, federal prosecutors agreed to return all $28,180 to Mr. Warren and to dismiss their civil forfeiture complaint.

Congratulations to the great libertarian lawyers at the Institute for Justice, who tirelessly fight on behalf of people suffering from abusive government.

And kudos to the small handful of states that have restricted the ability of law enforcement to steal from citizens.

But what we really need is for the Supreme Court to rule that civil asset forfeiture is unconstitutional. Fortunately, Clarence Thomas may be interested in leading such an effort.

P.S. The one silver lining to the horror of asset forfeiture is that it produced this clever example of humor.

P.P.S. Civil asset forfeiture is an example of predatory government (and I cheer people who find novel ways of fighting back).