And also theft.
If you break a religious rule, your conscience is supposed to punish you, if you break one of society’s rules, people cluck their tongues or shun you. But government doesn’t deal in intangibles. Break a government rule and it throws you into a reinforced concrete prison with real iron bars. It hires full-time skilled employees, at your expense, to catch you, lock you in, and watch you, plus (if you try to escape) expert marksmen, to shoot you with bullets you paid for…
The government buys all manner of things—and no expense is spared. Government has an unlimited source of income as long as the citizens have an ounce of strength left to work. Government spending is limited only by the boundaries of human greed. No one has ever found the limits of human greed, but our government is constantly exploring the frontiers, forever pushing them further outward. It is hard to believe that the politicians can actually find ways to spend all the money they appropriate, in the time allotted. Our government may have a secret bank account in Switzerland, in case it has to leave the country in a hurry.
Most amazing of all is the way a government gets its funds. It’s a new twist on an old obsession: Our money burns a hole in their pocket. When religion needs money, it passes a collection plate and lets you decide how much to give, if anything. When society needs money, a silver-haired matron rings your doorbell, and you are free to say you gave at the office. The geejy bird [government] has a better system; each year it figures out exactly how much the public will stand for—short of actual armed rebellion—and spends it in advance. Then on April 15 it says, “You pay or go to jail.” Belonging to a government is like having your credit card stolen.
“Taxation is theft!” rises the cry from thousands of freedom lovers. And it is so, if viewed through the lens of direct comparison. After all, what practical difference is there between the highwayman who points a gun at you and says “Your money or your life,” and the IRS agent who assesses you for some obscene amount he says you “owe,” and tells you to pay or go to prison? It’s just that the latter thief has the majesty of “the law” behind him – and did you get any say in that? I didn’t.
Me neither. Then again, in accordance with its nature, government never asks. It tells. Francis includes a few more examples of government’s thieving nature, to which I would like to append this one:
After the FBI seized Joseph Ruiz’s life savings during a raid on a safe deposit box business in Beverly Hills, the unemployed chef went to court to retrieve his $57,000. A judge ordered the government to tell Ruiz why it was trying to confiscate the money.
It came from drug trafficking, an FBI agent responded in court papers.
Ruiz’s income was too low for him to have that much money, and his side business selling bongs made from liquor bottles suggested he was an unlicensed pot dealer, the agent wrote. The FBI also said a dog had smelled unspecified drugs on Ruiz’s cash.
The FBI was wrong. When Ruiz produced records showing the source of his money was legitimate, the government dropped its false accusation and returned his money.
Ruiz is one of roughly 800 people whose money and valuables the FBI seized from safe deposit boxes they rented at the U.S. Private Vaults store in a strip mall on Olympic Boulevard.
Federal agents had suspected for years that criminals were stashing loot there, and they assert that’s exactly what they found. The government is trying to confiscate $86 million in cash and a stockpile of jewelry, rare coins and precious metals taken from about half of the boxes.
But six months after the raid, the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles have produced no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the vast majority of box holders whose belongings the government is trying to keep.
Some lawyers for box holders say the government’s entire operation is a “money grab” to acquire tens of millions of dollars for the Justice Department through forfeiture. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office denied that and said some of the money it recovers will go to crime victims.
In civil forfeitures, no criminal conviction is required. The government just needs to prove that it’s more likely than not that the money or property it seeks to confiscate was linked to criminal activity.
In warrants authorizing the search and seizure of all “business equipment” at U.S. Private Vaults, U.S. Magistrate Steven Kim placed strict limits on the government, explicitly barring federal agents from searching the contents of each box for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
In the warrant application, submitted by Assistant U.S. Atty. Andrew Brown, a statement by FBI agent Lynne Zellhart assured Kim that agents’ inspection of each box would “extend no further than necessary to determine ownership” so that belongings could be returned once the government took an inventory of the property seized.
Box holder lawsuits allege that those promises were false and that agents, with no probable cause, intended from the start to rummage through the boxes looking for evidence in the criminal investigation.
Which is, of course, true.
“They pulled a bank heist in broad daylight,” Ruiz said. “They didn’t even apologize.”
Also true. Julie Kelly puts it to us straight.
The incurable incompetence, corruption, and moral rot of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was on full display last week.
Within a 24-hour period, some of America’s toughest female athletes recounted to a Senate committee their painful tales of how the FBI ignored evidence that team doctor Larry Nassar was a sexual predator, and a powerful attorney who colluded with the FBI to concoct one of the most animating chapters of the Trump-Russia collusion fiction was indicted for lying to federal officials.
Overlap in the two cases is more than ironic, it’s illustrative: Michael Sussman, a lawyer for Perkins Coie, the law firm that was working on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign, met with the FBI’s general counsel in September 2016 to plant a false story about Donald Trump’s financial ties to a Russian bank. That same month, the Indianapolis Star broke the story of how Nassar, the longtime physician for the USA Gymnastics team, had sexually abused several female gymnasts. One victim filed a lawsuit after the FBI refused to investigate complaints made to at least two FBI field offices in 2015 and 2016.
But the FBI at that time was too preoccupied with protecting Hillary Clinton to deal with a monster who had systematically raped nearly 300 female American athletes. (As Lee Smith recently noted, the FBI “has been used for a quarter of a century as the place to clean up the Clintons’ dirt.”)
Infuriatingly, Wray fired only one agent involved in the Nassar fiasco—and the man was fired the week before the Senate hearing, six years after he first interviewed Maroney. “Someone perhaps more cynical than I would conclude it was this hearing here staring the FBI in the face that prompted that action,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said to Wray.
But what ails the FBI cannot be solved with a few firings. It cannot be solved with more congressional oversight or threats to cut federal funding. The moral rot that infects the agency from top to bottom renders the agency unsalvageable.
“This conduct by these FBI agents…who are expected to protect the public is unacceptable, disgusting, and shameful,” Maggie Nichols, the gymnast who first reported Nassar’s crimes to the FBI, told the committee.
Her description, however, applies to the entire FBI—an institution with no shame, no remorse, and no accountability. There’s no fix for that.
Au contraire, Jules, NOT true. I can think of one straightaway—a fix which I positively guarantee will do the job quite nicely, with almost no real effort, inconvenience, or delay. Very inexpensive, too, requiring nothing in the way of equipment other than 1) a box of matches for the HQ building in Quantico; 2) a jerrycan of gasoline and several cans of Sterno; and 3) some salt for the earth on which the accursed building presently stands. Throw in a few lengths of stout chain and some padlocks for the doors to keep any of the bipedal rats inside from escaping and you’ll still be well within the bounds of what most of us would deem a reasonable budget, especially when balanced against the tremendous benefit the project would bring.
For the life of me, I can’t think what on earth we’re waiting for.
Update! Thanks to Aesop for helpfully reminding me in the comments that Fibbie HQ is NOT in Quantico, as I erroneously stated above. Quantico is where the FBI Academy and training center is located. There’s also a CIA training compound and shooting range not far away from there, if I recall correctly. Which I probably don’t; my memory is NOT to be trusted these days, I’m afraid.