The Daily Bell has covered the growing lawlessness of governments in ways that directly affect many of our readers, particularly in Western nations. These include ever-increasing surveillance, draconian Homeland Security powers and militarization of out-of-control police as well as restrictive banking regulations and tax-related penalties including passport confiscation and border detainment. Yesterday, we wrote about the issue of civil asset forfeiture in the US.
While some justification is always given for expanding restrictions, including terrorism and, lately, Ebola, nothing seems to work in reverse, even when the so-called threat lessens. Governmental authority expands but does not retract.
Our article on asset forfeiture featured an analysis of a Forbes story that was actually derived from a recent three-part article written by Washington Post reporters. Another prominent outlet to feature the issue since the Washington Post story was the British BBC, which posted an article in September entitled, "The Growing Outcry Over Police Confiscation."
Here's an excerpt:
If you find yourself embroiled in a forfeiture case and you can't afford a lawyer, you have no recourse … It's a process called civil forfeiture, and it is the subject of a recent three-part series in the Washington Post, which looked at these four cases and hundreds of others in which law enforcement confiscated property based solely on reasonable suspicion.
The owners are then presented with an often long, difficult legal process to go about reclaiming what was taken. The numbers, the Post reports, are truly astounding. In 2012 around $4.6bn (£2.8bn) in cash and property were confiscated. The practice has prompted a closet industry of businesses with names like Desert Snow that specialise in advising law enforcement on how to most effectively conduct roadside seizures.
Although drawn from British admiralty law, where ships could be confiscated to pay for damages, civil forfeiture in the US only really became an issue in the last 30 years as the government ramped up its efforts to combat drug trafficking. Federal law, as well as the laws in 42 states, was written to allow law enforcement to confiscate property – cars, planes, houses, businesses, currency – suspected to be tied to illegal activity. They could then use the assets for… well, pretty much whatever they want.
According to the Institute for Justice, which is leading a class-action suit against the city of Philadelphia's forfeiture programme, police have used the money for "better equipment, nicer offices, newer vehicles, trips to law enforcement conventions and even police salaries, bonuses or overtime pay". It creates a perverse incentive, they say, for law enforcement to confiscate first and ask questions later.
The ability of police to confiscate money using the flimsiest of pretenses and then keep the money to expand police resources is indeed "perverse." What's also perverse is the statement in the article that, "What's different now, however, is that a growing chorus from both the left and the libertarian right are calling for change."
Please – not so fast. In fact, the libertarian and alternative media have been covering this issue for years. A Supreme Court decision that strengthened the ability of municipalities to confiscate private property set off outrage in the mid-2000s. There's nothing "different" today except the mainstream media's sudden decision to cover what's been going on.
We see the same thing when it comes to cannabis decriminalization and legalization. The libertarian left has been agitating for cannabis legalization for decades but only suddenly in the second decade of the 21st century did cannabis legalization become a cause célèbre. The first shots were fired by Colorado and Washington, followed by Uruguay, which each legalized cannabis. Almost immediately after Uruguay's senate voted yes, the story was picked up by elite mouthpiece magazine The Economist and shortly thereafter a global UN-led conference on the topic of cannabis was moved up from 2021 to 2016.
It's easy to see the larger globalist forces at work when it comes to cannabis legalization and growing entrepreneurship – and in fact, using the VESTS model, I saw right away that cannabis was likely a promising business opportunity.
It's very likely that the same forces backing cannabis legalization are also involved in attacking asset forfeiture. That should be a positive sign but, as stated, I'm not sure it is. It makes me nervous, perversely, because I don't see that Western governments ever promote increased freedom in the modern age. I don't see the state ever giving up power. If the mainstream media has taken an interest in asset confiscation, it is likely only because there are other elements of police and federal force that are coming into play.
I can think of two right away, and I'm sure you can too: terrorism and Ebola. Even when the Ebola scourge, if that's what it is, is defeated, the increased security, including expanded checkpoints, probably will be retained. The "war on terror" continues to spawn increasingly more invasive measures as privacy degenerates.
Throughout the West, but especially in the US, police are becoming more adversarial to the public they are supposed to "serve." It's a trend that has been abetted in the US by Homeland Security providing police forces around the country with military hardware and SWAT-style attack platforms.
A dialectic is obviously at work here. The police are first armed and encouraged to take violent measures against "drug dealers"; the mainstream media – following a decade or more of silence – is now in full cry against abusive police practices. Who knows what the resolution will be? The chances are it will generate an official formula that will in some manner enshrine arbitrary police privileges, even as some abuses are rolled back.
The larger areas of concern are terrorism and Ebola. The globalists among us that strive for increased internationalism never seemingly give up one area of government authority without swapping it for another. Asset forfeiture and police brutality are two ways of intimidating people; domestic passports, travel restrictions and house-to-house searches based on "public health concerns" are another.
One can be optimistic based on increasing acceptance of cannabis and the sudden outcry over police authoritarianism and asset confiscation. But I'm afraid, having lived through the past decade, that I am not.
I don't think things are suddenly getting better just because we can foresee certain "green shoots." I do believe what we call the Internet Reformation has panicked many in the internationalist movement and caused "blowback."
At the same time we're experiencing this burgeoning police state, we are clearly on the cusp of a major economic setback. No one is certain of the timing, but clearly, the facade that for most people veils the truth of our economic system and the fraudulent underpinnings on which the whole thing is based is being rapidly torn away.
It is only a matter of time until history repeats, as it has in all other such situations: Think French Revolution, Germany's 1923 Weimar Republic, 1946 Hungary or Argentina and Brazil in more recent decades. Anywhere people are fed by the state, where people have become accustomed to living off the state, when that failed state can no longer support itself you have a very difficult set of circumstances, to put it mildly.
This is clearly not a situation in which you want to spend a lot of time. When there is no longer food on the shelves or gas at the stations, when day-to-day life comes to a screaming halt for a society in which the majority of people don't know how to change a tire let alone grow their own vegetables, there can be only one means to which they can resort in order to feed themselves, which is to take what you have.
I would not expect neighbors to come with hand out, asking for a little help; they'll be coming with weapons to take it. And I do expect that will be the case in many environments where people at this point still feel quite secure, where they still line up for their weekly bread and circuses events, apparently foreseeing nothing ominous coming.
When this societal complacence does end, probably very suddenly, many people will be looking for alternatives. It's clear that it will be a little too late to act once bank accounts have been restricted, assets are inaccessible and borders may be closed, certainly to any movement of assets. Asset freezes will become the norm. The ease of wiring funds offshore to buy assets in safer places won't be available at that point. That's why in reporting on these alarming issues, we have urged that people consider options available to them now, including relocation of assets along with second passports, citizenships and residences.
The bottom line is this: This system is built on fraud and it is going to unravel so it behooves us to think now about ways to protect our lifestyle, as we consider how the world can change rapidly.
I do think that the world will inevitably grow more free in the 21st century rather than less free but getting from "here" to "there" is going to be a problem for many people. Freedom isn't won or sustained cheaply. Those of us who value freedom and want to sustain a lifestyle of liberty for ourselves and our families will have to plan ahead, and securing a second residence is one such lifestyle-protection measure. It may not need to become one's permanent home, but having somewhere to go even temporarily until things settle down is extremely valuable.
As for my own consideration of such a second residence, I look for places in the world where we find self-sufficiency. I consider such questions as: Who are the neighbors? Who's already secured a residence there now? Would the location simply mean moving from one firestorm to another and, if so, why would I make that choice? I'm looking for places where the people have little to no leverage to the great game to which I'm referring, where they still have a traditional understanding of self-sufficiency but also access to all the amenities to support the modern lifestyle I desire.
I'm also looking for somewhere with stable climatic conditions that preclude the necessity of electricity for heat and where foodstuffs are abundant, meaning the country doesn't require trading to acquire foodstuffs, power, etc.
In addition, I think it's important to choose a location where one is able to enjoy this second residence now. It's one thing to build a home that offers security for the future but that really shouldn't be the only reason to do it. In my mind, it should be somewhere you want to spend time now – a place you can go for vacation, to spend holidays, for a month in the summer or, if you're retired, somewhere you would enjoy spending months at a time. And it should ideally be somewhere you can grow to truly enjoy, where you feel more and more comfortable over time so that you can use it today and know that in a time of crisis you already have in place the greatest insurance policy possible to ensure you can continue to enjoy your lifestyle.
For these reasons, I made the decision to secure a second residence in Medellin, Colombia several years ago. In addition to Canada and the United States, I have lived in several countries, including Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Spain and Switzerland, so to say it is one of my favorite places to spend my time is not without comparatives. In our article yesterday we excerpted a recent Colombia Reports piece, "Colombia tipped as one of the world's top retirement destinations."
I could not agree more with the article's premise, that Colombia is "among the 'crème de la crème' when on the search for retirement locations." I would add, however, that it's not just an ideal retirement destination; it is ideal for the kind of second residence we've been discussing. Medellin is easily accessible from almost anywhere – a 2.5-hour flight from Miami or a direct flight from New York, Toronto and various European cities, for instance – and is a thriving, enjoyable place to be with year-round springtime temperatures and just the kind of self-sufficient people I mentioned earlier. Of the many people who have visited Colombia with me or who have read about it in The Daily Bell or other free-market publications and then visited, everyone comes to a similar conclusion: This is one of the most beautiful, pleasant, promising best-kept secrets ever.
Together with my team at High Alert Investment Management, I am in the process of conducting due diligence on creating a community of freedom-oriented residents located in Colombia, and as events advance, I'll report on our progress. Our due diligence, in fact, is of the most profound kind, especially given that there have been difficulties – well known on these pages – regarding other such communities, and we will not rush that process.
For those interested, I would urge similar due diligence of your own. Trust is an important part of such due diligence, and I hope we've earned your trust with our uncompromising reporting and dedication to telling the truth about our modern life and times. Nonetheless, pursuing your own due diligence as persistently as possible is a cornerstone of establishing oneself as a free-market thinker. The one imperative that must always be at the forefront of your consideration is to demand of anyone trying to sell you anything, "Show me the evidence." I know we'll welcome that type of scrutiny once our efforts come together and we're able to present a logical and attractive platform.
For me, and hopefully for you, choosing a second residence is a critical yet promising undertaking. The world is not a certain place these days between "plagues," war and the inevitable ruinous outcomes of fiat money. If we can offer alternatives that provide an element of increased security and lifestyle enrichment, we'll try to do so. As our plans evolve, I hope you'll take a look at what we're presenting.