Justin’s note: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to steal your property.
Since taking office in February, he’s done all sorts of idiotic things. He’s threatened to crack down on the legal marijuana market. He’s attacked gay rights. And he even wants to amp up asset seizures. This is when the government takes money and property from people. You don’t even need to be convicted of a crime.
In this installment of our special holiday series, Doug Casey shares his thoughts on the subject…
Doug Casey on Asset Seizures
Justin: Doug, what do you think of Sessions’ latest “bright” idea?
Doug: Well, let me preface this by saying Sessions was a disastrous choice for Attorney General. He’s done nothing in his life but be a lawyer, a prosecutor, and a politician. He has no experience—and therefore probably no inclination or even ability—to produce things of tangible value.
But we almost always get undesirables as the AG. They’re hatchet men, meant to prosecute “the enemy,” taking their pick of the hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations on the books to do so. Look at some of the recent AGs—Loretta Lynch, Eric Holder, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Janet Reno. All of them would have been willing and obedient lapdogs to Stalin or Beria. A certain personality type is suited for the job.
Sessions is a rabid drug warrior, even against something as useful and benign as hemp, or marijuana. He’s a busybody who feels no guilt or remorse at enforcing laws that have destroyed the lives of tens of millions. I don't know if he's stupid, bent, thoughtless, paranoid or what his problem might be. Maybe he’s afraid that if pot wasn’t illegal he’d become a dope fiend himself. But the proper direction, the objective, is to legalize all drugs. Not amp the drug war up another notch, as he wants to do.
And not only does he want to amp up the drug war, but he wants to increase the State’s ability to confiscate citizens’ property—especially cash—on even suspicion of breaking a law.
In the meantime he's not doing anything to investigate the people in Hillary’s camp for all kinds of apparent illegality. In fact, now that Trump's in office, what ever happened to his promise of a real investigation of what really happened to things like Building 7 on 9/11? Or the strange deaths that seem to have surrounded the Clinton clan for decades?
So far the man seems all negatives no positives. He’s just another Deep State actor who’s climbed the political ladder a little higher. These guys all protect each other.
But increasingly many of Trump’s choices are disastrous, like his National Security Advisor McMaster and White House Chief of Staff Kelly. And wormtongues Ivanka and Jared Kushner. This is perhaps an inevitable problem when a President is just a pragmatist with no philosophical core. Although, I hasten to add, having no core may be better than having a rotten core, like Obama and others in the recent past.
Justin: Not to mention, asset seizures don’t work. Over the past decade, the federal government has seized more than $28 billion. But that’s done absolutely nothing to deter crime.
So, why would Sessions double down on this failed policy? Is he clueless? Or is the government just that desperate?
Doug: Good question. Well, I’ve already speculated on some possible aspects of Sessions’ character that might partially explain this. But all the repressive aspects of government—civil forfeitures are just one—have been growing and compounding for years. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s the natural progression of all living organisms. They all want to grow, exert more control on their environments, and become more powerful. The problem is that government has unusual powers, and no longer seems to have many limits. So you can expect this trend to accelerate.
I saw the other day the government steals more from the American people through confiscations than is lost outright to robberies and muggings. It’s been reported that in 2015 civil forfeitures exceeded the amount stolen by all robbers. It’s quite amazing and disturbing. There are at least two reasons things are deteriorating.
Number one, as a general rule, police are no longer trained as “peace officers.” They’re trained to be, and view themselves, as “law enforcement officers.” This is a very different thing. The police are a bigger threat to your property and your liberty, not to mention your life, than actual criminals. Number two, these governments are all bankrupt. They're looking for revenue wherever they can get it. Predators are most dangerous when they’re hungry.
The police are the ones that actually make it happen, and they have a vested interest in doing the wrong thing. Whenever a police department confiscates things under these laws, they get to keep some percentage. It varies, but can be 10, 20, 30, 50 percent of what's confiscated, and they love it because the money goes to the local police department in question. They can use it for buying fun cop toys, or for buying further educational benefits, or whatever, for themselves. So, they're profiting from this stuff as directly as the criminals do that steal things from citizens. It's a total disaster.
And remember, the Attorney General is the country’s top law enforcement officer.
Justin: Yeah, it’s scary.
Unfortunately, the government is sinking deeper in debt by the day. So, I’m afraid this is going to get worse before it gets better. Do you agree?
Doug: It's inevitable.
These governments are digging themselves into deep financial holes. They're going to need more and more revenue. The populace has been trained to see the government as a cornucopia. As the economy goes into the trailing edge of the current financial hurricane, they’re going to demand even more freebies from all levels of government. So, the trend will continue until there's some type of a crisis. At which point anything can happen.
The downtrend is in motion. And trends in motion tend to continue and accelerate until they change. I like to draw attention to France in 1789, a horrible situation with its highly authoritarian and totally bankrupt government. A revolution was necessary and welcome. But then things got worse under Robespierre. And worse again under Napoleon. The exact same thing with Russia in 1917—but then they got Lenin, and then Stalin.
Justin: Absolutely. So, asset seizures won’t even put a dent in the government’s debt problem.
With that said, how else might the government steal money and property from people?
Doug: Well, they're now talking about making you declare your cryptocurrencies whenever you cross a border. If you don't, and they find out, they're eligible for confiscation. As cryptocurrencies get bigger—and they will—this will constitute both a gigantic invasion of privacy and an attack on your wealth.
All governments already ask whether you have more than $10,000 when you cross their borders, and reserve the right to search you. If this becomes law, it means that you, your computer, and your smartphone will always be liable to a full forensic audit.
It's another major step towards the world of 1984. Every new law they pass has Kafka-esque possibilities. That’s what legislatures around the world do every day they’re in session. All of these laws have severe penalties. The trend in this direction—which started in earnest just over 100 years ago—is going hyperbolic. And the average human—miseducated, propagandized, and besotted by food and drugs—wants more laws. Why? I think fear is today’s dominant emotional tone. People want to be protected and cared for, like farm animals. They see the State as their benevolent shepherd.
There are no positive political trends in today’s world. They aren’t cutting back on regulations, reducing taxes, or eliminating laws anywhere. They're doing just the opposite.
Justin: So, how can people protect themselves from this?
Doug: It’s increasingly hard because the statists, collectivists, socialists, fascists, globalists, and the like have won the war for the hearts and minds of the masses all over the world. And the world’s governments—notwithstanding their inevitable wars and such—are cooperating with each other far, far more than ever before.
In a nutshell, there are three things to keep in mind.
First, become as wealthy as possible. Although they can steal anything and everything from you, the more you have the more damage you can sustain, and the more influence you can exert.
Second, diversify politically and geographically. You want to have some convenient options if your government starts looking like Russia in the ‘20s, or Germany in the ‘30s, China in the ‘50s, Cuba in the ‘60s, etc., etc. It’s a very long list.
Third, keep your head down. The tall poppy is the one selected for cutting. I observe my first two rules, but not so much this one. That’s because sometimes we have to make a choice between what’s smart and what’s right. In my case, almost nothing is worth feeling like a whipped dog.
Justin: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, Doug.
Doug: My pleasure.