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More Forfeiture Coverage

On August 24, 2011, in Drug War, by John Payne

At Forbes, the Cato Institute’s Dan Mitchell discusses the forfeiture article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal. Here are some highlights:

As a grumpy libertarian, I routinely get agitated about taxes, spending, and regulation. As far as I’m concerned, much of government is a racket that uses coercion to reward interest groups with unearned wealth.

But there are degrees of evil. So if you asked me to pick the most reprehensible thing that government does,  “asset forfeiture” might be in second place (hurting poor people to benefit rich people is at the top of my list).

Personally, I’d argue that imprisoning–or even killing–it’s own citizens for victimless acts that some people happen not to like is the worst thing government does. Of course, forfeiture encourages the government to pursue these non-crimes even more rabidly.

Our Founding Fathers gave us a presumption of innocence and no bureaucrat or politician should be allowed to cancel our constitutional rights.

Asset forfeiture should apply to people like Bernie Madoff. He’s been convicted of operating a Ponzi scheme, so by all means grab every penny he accumulated. But government should follow a simple rule: Convict first, seize second.

Is that so much to ask?

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