1) The Drug Enforcement Administration is attempting to seize a $1.5 million building owned as a retirement-investment property by a dentist and an engineer. Grounds are a $37 sale of pot ..to an undercover agent..by one of the building’s tenants, a medical-marijuana dispensary.
As the judge in the case notes, the Obama administration (in 2009) sent a memo instructing federal prosecutors to not target medical-marijuana patients..before deciding to crack down and sending threatening letters to landlords. He even wondered aloud if President Obama would change his mind about marijuana again, after the building had already been seized.
This, in a country whose current President pretty clearly was himself a marijuana user, not to mention former President Bill Clinton, who “didn’t inhale.” Neither Obama nor Clinton are in any danger of having their property seized, however.
2) When financial questions arose regarding the Mountain Pure Water Company, Washington did not send a few staffers to inspect documents. Instead, last spring, some 50 armed Treasury agents breached the company’s headquarters in Little Rock, Ark. They seized 82 boxes of records, herded employees into the cafeteria, snatched their cell phones, and..according to reports..refused to let them consult attorneys.
“We’re the federal government,” Mountain Pure’s comptroller, Jerry Miller, says one pistol-packing fed told him. “We can do what we want, when we want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
3) In Alexandria, Virginia, a 10-year-old was suspended and arrested for bringing a toy gun to school
4) In Tennessee, an Ohio couple was pulled over by pair of black police SUVs. “They were very serious,” said the woman who was driving. “They had the body armor and the guns.”
On the back of the couple’s car was a Buckeye leaf decal, similar to the one Ohio State players have on their helmets.
“What are you doing with a marijuana sticker on your bumper?” asked one of the cops, who had apparently never heard of the First Amendment.
5) In 2005, an Iowa couple purchased a small lot. When they began to lay gravel on the land, which is located in a residential neighborhood, they were hit by an order from the Environmental Protection Administration informing them that the property had been designated a wetland under the Clean Water Act. They were ordered to stop grading their property and were told that they would face fines of up to $75,000 per day if they did not return the parcel to its original state. When the Sacketts attempted to contest the order, the agency denied their request for a hearing.
Last March, the Supreme Court overruled the EPA and stated that the Sacketts are entitled to appeal the EPA order, rejecting the agency’s claims to the contrary.
“The EPA used bullying and threats of terrifying fines, and has made our life hell for the past five years,” said Mr. Sackett. See my post A Defensive Victory Against Administrative Tyranny.
6) Bob Wallace and Marjorie Ottenberg, California residents in their 80s, started a business to make water purification devices for backpackers. Their enterprise has been crippled by the Drug Enforcement Administration and state officials, on grounds that iodine crystals–a key ingredient in their product–can also be used for methamphetamine production.
7) A woman with a shattered kneecap, who went to a CVS pharmacy to pick up a prescription painkiller, was arrested and thrown in jail overnight on suspicion that she had forged what was actually a completely legitimate prescription. She was on crutches, with a leg brace and a permanent IV line in her arm. Dallas police later dropped the charges after speaking with her doctor. The Dallas Police Department declined to talk to a TV news station about the arrest.
8) Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, bought a boat in Canada. The boat had to go through US Customs, and when Arrington arrived to fill out the necessary paperwork, he found an error. The DHS had changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars.
“I pointed out the error and suggested that we simply change the currency from US $ to CAD $ so that is was correct,” Arrington writes. “Or instead, amend the amount so that it was correct in U.S. dollars.”
Arrington says that the DHS agent didn’t care and insisted that he sign the form anyway…and that when he wouldn’t…correctly, since it was incorrect…the DHS agent seized his boat.
“A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today,” Arrington writes. “And when I didn’t do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.”
Many more instances such as those above could be easily cited.
Cassandra, referring to the incident of the couple pulled over because of their bumper sticker, notes that we should beware of drawing conclusions based on isolated instances, and that cops are human and we can’t expect perfection. It’s a valid point.
But what I detect in the growing number of reports about incidents such as those cited above is not a set of isolated instances, but rather a pattern. Officialdom..across governments of all levels…is becoming increasingly and overweeningly arrogant. This is a predictable consequence of the endless increases in the scale and scope of government, combined with the related erosion of civil society.
See Glenn Reynolds’ article about Due Process When Everything is a Crime.
It was once possible for an American to go through life without ever facing a confrontation with a government official–especially an armed government official. But today, such confrontations are becoming distressingly common.
What is the psychological effect of schoolkids when they see one of their classmates dragged off by the police for the crime of having a toy gun? Isn’t the effect to inculcate them with the Old Country idea of officialdom as a feared, inexplicable, and implacable entity to which the ordinary citizen must be subservient?
In my post A Defensive Victory Against Administrative Tyranny, I quoted a passage which is often attributed to George Washington:
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.
While Washington was probably not really the source of the quote, it remains a true and important statement nonetheless. Living with what has historically been a fairly benign government, Americans have become insufficiently sensitized to the inherent dangers of overweening government power. There is a serious danger that we’re going to find out the hard way.
Don’t think that what happened to the individuals mentioned in the above examples can’t also happen to you. As I noted in my “Defensive Victory” post, individual court victories such as Sackett v EPA are important, but true safety can be found only by breaking the back of the political philosophy which calls for unlimited and unending expansion in government’s role and powers.