Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class.
To learn more about Mr. Nock, see the last section below.
The boldness of government in its transition into something indistinguishable from organized crime increases as it approaches bankruptcy. Don Boudreaux likens government behavior to “Looting Like Pirates in the Name of Fighting Crime:”
Civil asset forfeiture, certainly as used today in the United States, is a crime. A rather vile crime, at that. Read, for example, George Will’s column in today’s Washington Post. Or this 2010 study by the Institute for Justice (which Will links to in his column.) And yet governments practice civil asset forfeiture routinely, mostly in the name of fighting the misnamed “war on drugs.”
Any agency that engages in such activities is uncivilized. To trust such an agency with money and power is folly.
The aforementioned George Will column discusses a town in New Hampshire and a motel owner who is in danger of losing his income stream and retirement asset (my emboldening):
This town’s police department is conniving with the federal government to circumvent Massachusetts law — which is less permissive than federal law — to seize his livelihood and retirement asset. In the lawsuit titled United States of America v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, the government is suing an inanimate object, the motel Caswell’s father built in 1955. The U.S. Department of Justice intends to seize it, sell it for perhaps $1.5 million and give up to 80 percent of that to the Tewksbury Police Department, whose budget is just $5.5 million. The Caswells have not been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime. They are being persecuted by two governments eager to profit from what is antiseptically called the “equitable sharing” of the fruits of civil forfeiture, a process of government enrichment that often is indistinguishable from robbery.
What Mr. Boudreaux and Mr. Will described is not rare. The following video (about 2 minutes) provides a short summary of what is going on:
As governments come under increasing financial pressure, the motivation for to grab money from anywhere increases. The ability to do so is a threat to all and most don’t realize the threat unless they are targeted. Then it is too late as the individual against the state cannot easily defend himself without incurring personal bankruptcy in the process. Mr. Boudreaux describes the disadvantage:
The too-convenient legal fiction that the property, rather than the property’s owner or possessor, is the wrongdoer is used by the state to circumvent many, perhaps most, of the procedural restrictions (such as trial by jury) designed to protect innocent people from overreaching government officials.
In essence, the State is policeman, judge and jury in this plunder. This act of civil asset forfeiture is known as Policing For Profit. An analysis is available here. To understand how susceptible you could be to such random plunder, consider the following video:
Albert J. Nock
Albert J. Nock was an interesting man for many reasons. For anyone concerned with freedom, he is a man worth reading. (To learn more about him, see the Wikipedia entry. Or better yet, read one of his many books: Books by Albert Nock at Mises.org).
Nock was a polished writer. My two favorite reads are Our Enemy, the State and Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, although almost anything he wrote is worth reading, especially if you are not familiar with this early libertarian writer. He was a wonderful writer. His short book on Thomas Jefferson is another excellent read.