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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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The Federal War on Financial Privacy


While Americans are celebrating pre-revolutionary efforts by the English colonists to avoid taxes imposed by their government (e.g., the Sugar Act, Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, and Tea Act), the IRS is celebrating a federal court victory forcing a Swiss bank, UBS, to disclose the identities of U.S. customers who may have used secret accounts at the bank to avoid taxes. It’s a classic case of where one bad intervention — income taxation — inevitably leads to another bad intervention — invasion of financial privacy.

Historically, the Swiss have taken the right position with respect to financial privacy — fiercely protecting the identity and financial information of their bank customers, including from government officials. Unfortunately, the Swiss position on financial privacy is contrary to the position taken by the U.S. government, which is why the U.S. feds are now attacking UBS.

Over the years U.S. bankers have succumbed to the control of the federal authorities, especially with respect to the “war on drugs” and the “war on terrorism.” There is hardly a banker in the country that doesn’t quiver and quake at the thought that a bank examiner or IRS agent is paying a visit to his bank. Even worse, bankers have effectively been converted into spies and informants of the government, required by law to report any “suspicious” financial transaction to the feds.

For their part, the American people have become as sheep-like with respect to financial privacy as they have with civil liberties in general. The fact that their personal financial information must be reported to the government is considered “the price to be paid for living in a free society.”

Of course, never mind that those English colonists in 1776 were rebelling against these sorts of things in order to achieve a free society. After all, is it really just a coincidence that American lived without taxation on their income for more than 125 years?

People have the fundamental right to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth and decide what to do with it. How much they earn and what they do with it is none of the government’s business. A restoration of liberty to our land not only requires a repeal of all infringements on financial privacy, it also entails a repeal of the income tax, the drug war, and all other excuses for infringing the financial privacy of the people.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.