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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Government Has Metastasized

[I wish I was clever enough to have come up with the title phrase.  I heard it on the radio, and had to steal it.]

Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures which had something to do with the production of pig-iron. The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.
--George Orwell, 1984
Reasonable people can disagree about the drug laws.  I don't think anyone likes drug abuse.  Libertarians and Liberals believe it is one of the ugly consequences of a free society.  Conservatives, in general, believe it's OK to bend the Constitution to take away our privacy rights we have via the fourth amendment.  Hey, if we need to bend the rules to catch drug dealers or terrorists, it's OK to give up some rights to stay safe.

Just like Liberals believe it's OK to bend the Constitution with regards to gun ownership and possession.  Bend the second amendment to make it difficult to obtain a gun and carry it to defend yourself, 'cause it's OK to give up some rights to stay safe.  Libertarians and Conservatives tend to think the only permit you should need to carry a gun is the aforementioned second amendment.

There's a problem with bending the rules.  Given a bit of time, government always seems to find a way to apply these newly acquired powers against regular folks.

One of these "bent laws" are our RICO laws.  They were enacted to catch organized crime figures, and they worked quite well.  Snatch up the bad guys, seize their illegal assets, and put them out of business.  The problem is, when the big mafia bosses were largely rounded up, the government was left holding this big ol' hammer with nothing to do.  They started looking for something else to nail down.

One of the benefits of these asset forfeiture laws was that the local, state and federal police agencies all got to split up the booty they grabbed.  They now had a financial interest - and the law on their side - in painting more and more individuals as RICO candidates.

Apparently, anyone who carries large amounts of cash, gold, gems, etc., is now a part of organized crime.  Your personal property - cash, jewelry, real property, cars - are all seized and are not available to you to pay for a defense.  Anything you own is presumed to have been "ill-gotten gains".  What a luscious, perfectly constructed Totalitarian Catch 22:  Since you are presumed guilty because you've been charged under the RICO statutes, you are unable to pay for a defense to prove your innocence.
Almost all forfeiture cases practiced today are civil. In civil forfeiture cases, the US Government sues the item of property, not the person; the owner is effectively a third party claimant. Once the government establishes probable cause that the property is subject to forfeiture, the owner must prove on a "preponderance of the evidence" that it is not. The owner need not be judged guilty of any crime [emphasis mine].
The government sues a piece of property!  Holy crap.  Who could have ever dreamed that up - suing an inanimate object - and what suck ass court said it's legal?  How is a car, or diamond necklace, or stack of cash supposed to mount a defense?

My wife and I have been married for 26 years, and have been a couple for 31 years.  I have bought her LOTS of jewelry over those years.  It represents a considerable sum of money.  The police could enter my home, seize all of this jewelry, sue it, and I would have to prove I bought it legally?  Are you kidding me?

I don't have a single receipt for any piece I've bought her.  Actually, that probably wouldn't matter, because they could just say that the money used to buy the jewelry was earned via illegal means, and I'm screwed.  They don't have to prove I earned the money illegally, I have to prove I didn't earn it that way.  How do you prove you've never earned an illegal dollar?  How do you do that?  How do you prove a negative?  How do I prove that the stack of bills in that envelope are a result of hard, above-the-board work, and not some evil criminal underworld business?

I can't.  No one can.  And it's all a result of usurping the rights of legitimately bad guys, and those usurpation's now being visited upon society as a whole.

Buckle up, kiddies.  Here's comes the next usurpation.

A federal judge has ruled that agents of the state may enter your fenced and posted rural property, and install video surveillance devices.  All without having to bother with those nasty requirements contained in the fourth amendment.
Police are allowed in some circumstances to install hidden surveillance cameras on private property without obtaining a search warrant, a federal judge said yesterday.

CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge William Griesbach ruled that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission -- and without a warrant -- to install multiple "covert digital surveillance cameras" in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana plants were being grown.

This will be upheld if it ever makes it to the SCOTUS because we need to be kept safe from drug dealing, fourth amendment be damned.  And as surely as the sun will set tonight, this WILL be applied to anyone and everyone the government feels is breaking the law and needs to be spied upon.

"No, no, Chief.  It only applies to large, rural properties.  The feds can't violate the "curtilage" boundary." Tell that to the thousands of citizens who have had their property stolen by the state via the RICO laws that would only be used for mafia kingpins.

Seriously, does anyone think that it won't be applied soon enough to suburban, then urban properties and homes?  The government's track record on this is perfect:  We are all presumed to be breaking the law, and the Constitution can be warped to help the government prove it.  Or to at least get paid handsomely for the effort.
In general you could not assume that you were much safer in the country than in London. There were no telescreens, of course, but there was always the danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might be picked up and recognized; besides, it was not easy to make a journey by yourself without attracting attention.
--George Orwell, 1984 
I can hear it now:  "Your Honor, our drone just happened to fly over the subject's house while we were looking for another bad guy.  Luckily, our thermal imaging camera was on, and Officer Fife observed what appeared to be an illegal, gangland wrestling match, surely supplying the mob with illegal gambling proceeds.  The subject's assets were seized and divied up.  It was later learned that the subject was just having sex with his wife.  No harm, no foul, right, Your Honor?  Do you like our new gear?  Can I get my warrant now?"
He took his scribbling pad on his knee and pushed back his chair so as to get as far away from the telescreen as possible. To keep your face expressionless was not difficult, and even your breathing could be controlled, with an effort: but you could not control the beating of your heart, and the telescreen was quite delicate enough to pick it up.
--George Orwell, 1984


Accept The Challenge

I was talking with a friend of mine a few days ago about government.  This friend has made getting around government intrusion in your life, into an art form.  This person won't likely be around much longer, and I'm trying to get a Masters Course in a very short period of time.

The rules are pretty simple:  Keep off the radar.  Don't make a stink.  Don't rock the boat.

If they don't know you have assets, they can't take them.  If they don't think you might be breaking the law, they'll not peek into your life.

The whole idea of government metastasizing is so accurate and horrifying and disgusting.  It's a slow cancer - difficult to notice and not entirely painful.  People that are 50 years and older, see the change to our freedoms, but most are more focused on lining up their ducks for retirement - or are already retired.  Very little boat rocking here.

Younger folks have never know anything different.  Government schools teach them that government is good and right and just.  Follow the rules.  Most of them, too, don't want to rock the boat.

Continue with the Bread and Circuses, and we just don't care.  Fat and happy.  Gettin' by - not thriving but not hurting, either.  Give us the Kardashians or Octomom, and a couple of beers or a strong shot of Jack Daniels, and all is good.

Choices, choices, choices.  How to live our lives?  Real freedom is all but lost.  Subservience is expected.  Gotta ask permission before acting.  Has the flag gone up?  Time to punch out?

Copyright 2012 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

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