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End Federal Asset Stealing by Legalizing Drugs

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As most everyone knows, federal spending and federal debt are out of control. The feds continue to spend far more than they take in with federal taxes. The excess of federal spending over federal taxes is called the deficit. The deficit this year is estimated to be $702 billion. That amount will be borrowed and added to the existing $20 trillion in federal debt. The national debt comes to $166,000 per taxpayer.

There is no end in sight. The federal government is voracious. There are all the welfare-state programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidies, foreign aid, corporate grants, and others. There are all the warfare-state programs, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and military bases and interventions all over the world.

If anyone wonders whether out of control federal spending and debt can be harmful, see Greece. Or Puerto Rico. Or Venezuela. Or Connecticut.

One way to solve this massive fiscal problem is by slashing spending. But that’s not likely to happen any time soon. Welfare recipients scream like banshees at any such suggestion and public officials immediately run for cover. By the same token, there is no possibility that the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA are going to permit Congress to reduce their dole in any substantial amount. Moreover, statist economists have convinced many members of Congress that out of control federal spending and debt are actually beneficial to a nation.

One possibility would be to raise taxes on people to cover the amount of the deficit. If income tax rates were raised to, say, 50 percent of people’s incomes, that might be enough to cover the $702 billion deficit. In that case, the amount of spending would equal the amount of tax revenue, which would mean no additional amount would be added to the federal government’s $20 trillion debt load.

But everyone knows that American taxpayers would fly into a rage over such a tax increase. Moreover, when we consider the number of businesses that would go out of business with such a tax increase, the situation would likely be even worse than before the tax increase.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has an idea that will increase the amount of money flowing into the federal government without a tax increase. He is ordering federal agents to crack down on what is called asset forfeiture, which is really nothing more than legalized federal stealing from the American people.

The advantage of Sessions’s plan — at least from the standpoint of U.S. officials — is that it enables law enforcement officials to increase the amount of money being sucked out of the private sector and into the federal government’s coffers without making American taxpayers angry with a tax increase.

Even better (from their standpoint) is that people are encouraged to believe that this is a good way to increase federal income because the money is, they assert, being taken from drug users and drug dealers, who everyone is encouraged to hate.

It really is the perfect way to steal. No need to go to Congress and seek a tax increase. Just stop people traveling on the highways and take whatever cash they happen to be traveling with.

And that’s the way asset-forfeiture or, more accurately, asset-stealing works — by simply taking money from people against their will, like with robbery. In many cases, the money ends up in police departments, which converts them into self-funding, independent, unelected fiefdoms that are less dependent on the elected legislature for their funding. In states where the loot has to go into a general fund, the feds permit the police departments to launder the money by first sending it to the feds, who then return a portion of it back to the police department, which then immunizes it from being sent into the state general fund.

There is something important to note about asset-stealing: Officials are empowered to seize people’s money without charging them with a crime, ever. They just take the money and that’s it. They don’t have to file any legal proceeding to keep it. People have the right to sue to get their money back but that takes lawyers and lawyer fees. In most instances, the official bandits get away scot free and get to keep the money they’ve stolen from people, many of whom are on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. It’s called stealing from the poor to fund the massive, ever-growing welfare-warfare state.

Old, unrepentant drug warriors like Sessions respond that when people are carrying large amounts of cash, they’re probably drug users or drug dealers, and so it’s really no big deal to fund the federal government with money that is stolen from them.

But the money can be taken from anyone, even if they’re not drug users or drug dealers. And even if it’s true that some of the robbery victims are drug users or drug dealers, why should that give the government the authority to steal their money from them?

Drug users have presumably earned their money in their jobs and, for whatever reason, have chosen to spend it on drugs. We can concede for argument’s sake that that might not be a healthy thing to do, but why should that give the feds the authority to steal their money from them?

Drug dealers have earned their money in voluntary transactions, ones in which they are selling drugs to people who wish to buy them. Why should those voluntary transactions entitle the feds to steal their money?

Is the solution to end asset-forfeiture or asset-stealing? Only a temporary solution, not a permanent one. It’s just a branch of a very evil weed, one that is called the welfare-warfare state, which continues to destroy the freedom, privacy, and prosperity of the American people, especially with its out of control federal spending and debt. The solution is to pull the entire weed out by its root. A good place to start is by ending one of the most evil and immoral government programs in U.S. history — the war on drugs, a failed program that has wreaked untold death, destruction, violence, corruption, and suffering on millions of people.

It’s time not just to end asset-stealing. It’s time to end the entire war on drugs.

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.