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Present-day highwaymen is what I’d call them

September 10, 2014

The Institute for Justice has been running a campaign to end civil forfeiture — a topic I mentioned recently with the video about the ‘forfeiture machine’ in Philadelphia.

The IJ contributed to a three-part series in The Washington Post titled Stop and seize. The first installment is a long article but the thing that jumped out at me was this bit (fairly early on).

A thriving subculture of road officers on the network now competes to see who can seize the most cash and contraband, describing their exploits in the network’s chat rooms and sharing “trophy shots” of money and drugs. Some police advocate highway interdiction as a way of raising revenue for cash-strapped municipalities.

“All of our home towns are sitting on a tax-liberating gold mine,” Deputy Ron Hain of Kane County, Ill., wrote in a self-published book under a pseudonym. Hain is a marketing specialist for Desert Snow, a leading interdiction training firm based in Guthrie, Okla., whose founders also created Black Asphalt.

Hain’s book calls for “turning our police forces into present-day Robin Hoods.”

Evidently we’re all fair game now, according to Deputy Hain.

Here are Part 2 and Part 3.

As I often say, RTWT.

And when you have time, pay a visit to the IJ’s EndForfeiture site.


Update (9/22/14):

Here’s an editorial by John Yoder and Brad Cates (both former directors of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office) that appeared in The Washington Post on September 18th. My emphasis below.

Government self-interest corrupted a crime-fighting tool into an evil

Last week, The Post published a series of in-depth articles about the abuses spawned by the law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture. As two people who were heavily involved in the creation of the asset forfeiture initiative at the Justice Department in the 1980s, we find it particularly painful to watch as the heavy hand of government goes amok. The program began with good intentions but now, having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished.

Asset forfeiture was conceived as a way to cut into the profit motive that fueled rampant drug trafficking by cartels and other criminal enterprises, in order to fight the social evils of drug dealing and abuse. Over time, however, the tactic has turned into an evil itself, with the corruption it engendered among government and law enforcement coming to clearly outweigh any benefits.

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The mark of a master

September 6, 2014

Paul sends a link to this interesting story about Richard Feynman and fuzzy black holes: Why “Hawking Radiation” Was Almost “Feynman Radiation”.

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What he said (4)

August 24, 2014

Jeff sends a link to this post by Kevin Williamson at NR’s The Corner. (It’s the whole post, since it’s not easily excerpted.)

In the Wrong Business, Part 247

The school board of Centinela Valley Union High School District in Los Angeles County is firing its superintendent, Jose Fernandez.

He was paid $750,000 a year. 

That’s three-quarters of a million dollars a year — not to manage some sprawling big-city school system (which would be questionable enough) but to oversee five schools and an independent-study program in the suburbs. 

But not to worry: He was previously paid only about a half-million a year. As the Los Angeles Times reports, “Fernandez’s unusually high compensation was in part the result of a one-time payout of $230,000 he used to increase his pension credits, which would give him a higher annual pension upon his retirement.”

So they were paying him an outrageous sum of money today in order to pay him an even more outrageous sum in the future.

These thieves are why we’re broke.

Amen, brother.

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Policing the police (2)

August 19, 2014

Here’s some follow-up on a post from last December about equipping police officers with body cameras.

Gee, what a surprise!</sarcasm>

What Happens When Police Officers Wear Body Cameras

Use of force by police officers declined 60% in first year since introduction of cameras in Rialto, Calif.

With all eyes on Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the death of Michael Brown, a renewed focus is being put on police transparency. Is the solution body-mounted cameras for police officers?

Sometimes, like the moments leading up to when a police officer decides to shoot someone, transparency is an unalloyed good. And especially lately, technology has progressed to a point that it makes this kind of transparency not just possible, but routine.

So it is in Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing so-called body-mounted cameras, no bigger than pagers, that record everything that transpires between officers and citizens. In the first year after the cameras’ introduction, the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%.

It isn’t known how many police departments are making regular use of cameras, though it is being considered as a way of perhaps altering the course of events in places such as Ferguson, Mo., where an officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.

What happens when police wear cameras isn’t simply that tamper-proof recording devices provide an objective record of an encounter—though some of the reduction in complaints is apparently because of citizens declining to contest video evidence of their behavior—but a modification of the psychology of everyone involved.

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Cops into Robbers

August 12, 2014

Today the Institute for Justice will announce a major federal lawsuit on behalf of a group of Philadelphians seeking to end the city’s particularly shocking system of seizing nearly $6 million in property from thousands of its citizens each year.

"Settle" for half the market value indeed. What a racket!

Thank Heaven for IJ; there are No Rights without Property Rights.

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way

August 10, 2014

Here’s some interesting news from Bath (in southwest England).

Rolling in money: Man makes toll road to get around roadworks

A grandfather sick of roadworks near his home defied his council and built his own toll road allowing people to circumvent the disrupted section.

Opened on Friday, it’s the first private toll road built since cars became a familiar sight on British roads 100 years ago. Motorists pay £2 [$3.30 USD] to travel each way and bypass the 14 miles diversion.

Mike Watts, 62, hired a crew of workmen and ploughed £150,000 [~$250,000 USD] of his own cash into building a 365m [0.23 mi.] long bypass road in a field next to the closed A431. He reckons it will cost another £150,000 in upkeep costs and to pay for two 24 hour a day toll booth operators.

Speaking from the road in Kelston, Somerset, Mike said: “Too many people are displaced by the road closure, their daily lives have been so disrupted by this.”

The A431 between Bristol and Bath was closed in February after a landslip caused huge cracks to appear in the road.

Quickly businesses in the area began to suffer – including the cafe and party supplies shop Mike runs with wife Wendy Rice, 52, in Bath.

Naturally, the local bureaucracy wasn’t pleased.

But a spokesman for the council said it was not happy about the bold build.

“It is not just the planning, it’s the legal aspect of drivers using the road, and also safety – the area around the road where the landslip occurred has only just stopped moving, which is why work has only just been able to begin.”

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What happens when your tax rate is too high?

August 8, 2014

For one thing, you get nonsense-on-stilts like this:

The United States Needs Corporate ‘Loyalty Oaths’

Big corporations are fleeing for lower tax rates abroad. With reform legislation going nowhere, it’s time to think creatively and institute newfangled ‘non-desertion agreements.’

Do none of these people ever think…

- about the incentives companies are reacting to?

- that corporations are just groups of people; like school boards or the local Lions Club (except with better financial savvy)?

- that the idea of taxing corporations is sort of nonsense to begin with?

Corporate taxes are paid by customers (people), or by reduced earnings to shareholders (people), or by reduced salaries and benefits to employees (people), or by reduced reinvestment — causing job and opportunity losses (to people).

economic-patriotism

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