by Dan Mitchell
Posted Aug 23rd 2011 at 1:01 pm
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).
Asset forfeiture occurs when government seizes property that is associated with a crime. That sounds reasonable – and it is reasonable if someone is convicted of, say, bank robbery and the government confiscates the stolen cash and any loot purchased with that money.
But it is not reasonable (or moral, or just, or appropriate) when government seizes assets without a conviction. And it is downright disgusting when the government steals (and I use that word deliberately) the assets of innocent parties.
I’ve already written about this issue (including an example from my county) and highlighted how asset forfeiture gives government bureaucracies a perverse incentive to steal.
Now we have a story from the Wall Street Journal that confirms our worst fears.