News about a 78 year old woman traveling with her daughter to the Philippines grabbed us this morning as we sat before our morning coffee in our land of the free. The intrepid airport security folk protecting us discovered that she was smuggling some $41,000 out of the country, secreted in various places in her underwear. The government minions pounced at once, seizing this largesse as government property. The government is filing a petition to the court to declare it so, per the story. This is not unusual.
Our elderly traveler is not alone; police routinely seize cash from motorists when large amounts are found on them. No crime need be involved and our 78 year old was not charged with anything. Nowadays, if the government finds you have much cash, it will often be routinely seized. No evidence, no suspicion of a crime, no record of criminality; the government just grabs your cash if it decides you have too much of it on you. The 8th circuit of the Federal Court of Appeals has blessed this policy. That may be why our elderly traveler tried to secrete her loot, that she claimed was proceeds of the sale of her house.
Yes, the Constitution says that the government can’t take your property without due process and just compensation. Some folks have forced return of their confiscated property by going to court, an expensive and lengthy process. Those who can’t afford that are out of luck. and out of cash, too.
This isn’t a universal policy; the way it is handled can differ from place to place. But if you haven’t been aware of it, you are now. A couple of things seem to have brought this about: One is the “War on Drugs” that has made large amounts of cash routinely suspicious to law enforcers. A lot of perfectly legitimate cash has traces of drugs on it. Another is typified by a recent New Jersey cop, who told a motorist that since President Obama doesn’t follow the Constitution, the cop doesn’t have to either.
This story rather soured our morning coffee. But then, it made sense. If it’s ok to kill nascent inconvenient babies, marry homosexuals and help seniors off the planet because the government says it’s ok, then clearly the government has the power of life and death and no one else has any rights at all, unless government decides to bestow them. And any rights bestowed by government can be withdrawn by government at will. It all makes perfect sense, when you think about it …