On the evening of March 5, 1770, a thirteen year old boy named Edward Garrick deliberately provoked a British soldier who was on guard duty outside the Boston Custom House.
It was a dumb thing to do. Like a lot of teenagers, Garrick didn’t think before running his mouth. He even poked the soldier in the chest with his finger… until the soldier ultimately struck him in the head with a musket.
Now, Boston at the time was a hotbed of revolutionary spirit. Whereas today, people in the northeast seem to be happy to pay outrageous tax rates to incompetent politicians, back in the late 1700s they were ready to go to war over unfair taxation.
So when that British soldier struck Edward Garrick, an angry mob quickly formed at the scene.
By nightfall the soldier had been reinforced by several armed men from his regiment. And the commanding officer, Captain Thomas Preston, pleaded with the crowd to disperse.
But the mob continued to grow… and become increasingly agitated. Someone in the crowd threw an object at the soldiers, knocking one of them down. Another man swung a cudgel at them… and the soldiers opened fire, killing three people instantly. Pandemonium ensued.
Eventually the entire 29th Regiment was called out to help restore order. And the crowd was only satisfied when the governor promised a full investigation.
Nine British soldiers were arrested the following morning and put on trial for murder in the incident that is known to history as the Boston Massacre.
What’s remarkable is that the soldiers actually did receive a fair trial. Most were acquitted, and two of the men were convicted of a lesser charge (manslaughter) rather than murder.
It turns out they had a good lawyer… none other than future US President John Adams.
Adams was a patriot who wanted American independence. He didn’t like the British army and he didn’t particularly want to represent the soldiers.
But he was even more committed to the core principles of justice that everyone should be treated equally in front of the law.
Adams later described being the soldiers’ defense attorney as “one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country” precisely because it demonstrated such a strong commitment to the Rule of Law.
He knew the evidence was clear that the soldiers had acted in self-defense. And had they been convicted of murder, it would have been “as foul a stain upon this country” as the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s.
Roughly 250 years later, the foul stains are piling up at an unimaginable rate… the most recent one coming last week with Hunter Biden’s slap on the wrist for blatant tax fraud.
This is a guy who has spent most of his life as a hardcore crackhead junkie scumbag. Yet somehow he’s been able to make millions upon millions of dollars in everything from business consulting to impressionist art. Talk about a Renaissance Man.
It turns out, though, that Hunter didn’t report the majority of his income or pay taxes on it.
This is especially irritating given that most of Hunter Biden’s illicit income was from overseas sources… and the US government has all sorts of laws to prevent this.
Starting in 2010 they passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires everyone to declare any offshore income and offshore assets. FATCA also requires foreign financial institutions to share information about their customers.
More importantly, Hunter Biden is known in banking parlance as a “Politically-Exposed Person”, or “PEP”. Basically a PEP is a politician or an immediate family member (like Hunter).
And due to the potential for fraud, corruption, bribery, or other financial impropriety, banks are required to HEAVILY scrutinize their PEP customers.
The rules are so onerous, in fact, that most banks refuse to open accounts for PEPs.
So there were supposed to be numerous safeguards in place to prevent someone like Hunter from evading taxes on millions of dollars of dubious income. And yet they all failed. All of them.
Everyone else with foreign-sourced income has to abide by the offshore disclosure rules or else face severe criminal penalties. Hunter’s excuse is that he was a crackhead (albeit a wildly successful one) and therefore cannot be held responsible for his failure to follow the tax code.
Now just last week the US Justice Department agreed to a ‘deal’ in which Hunter will plead guilty to two laughable misdemeanors and receive probation.
So this either means:
1) Being a junkie crackhead is now a valid excuse to break the law in the United States of America; or
2) Being the son of the President is a valid excuse to break the law in the United States of America.
Given the looming allegations by IRS whistle blowers, it seems pretty clear that #2 is the case. But either instance is utterly pathetic… and the case has big implications that go beyond a single crackhead.
In the aftermath of World War II when the United States became the world’s dominant superpower, most nations were happy to accept the dollar as the global reserve currency.
Even after the US government took the dollar off the gold standard more than fifty years ago, the dollar remained the world’s primary reserve currency. And the reason is simple: people trusted America. They trusted in the competence of America’s government, its financial institutions, and its Rule of Law.
Yet these factors have all changed. The US government is now legendary for its incompetence… for its irresponsible spending, its inability to solve problems, its incapacity to act with any urgency or common sense.
Between Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse earlier this year, and the Federal Reserve’s extreme mishandling of inflation, America’s financial institutions aren’t looking as pristine as they once were.
And given these grievous examples like Hunter Biden’s sweetheart deal, which is the sort of thing you’d see in a corrupt banana republic, you’d have to be a fool to believe that the Rule of Law still means anything in America.
Like I said, this isn’t about one crackhead junkie. This is about how the people in charge continue to chip away at the core pillars that helped make the country so prosperous.
There’s enough of a foundation that the overall structure of prosperity continues to hold up. For now.
But the rest of the world has already started wondering— can we really trust these people to be the sole, undisputed global leader? Can we really trust these people with the extraordinary power and privilege of the dominant reserve currency?
I’ve written before that a loss of the dollar’s dominance would be devastating for the US economy, and that it would happen gradually… then suddenly.
We seem to be moving towards the ‘suddenly’ phase. And sweetheart deals for crackheads aren’t going to turn that around.