The woods are full of bad guys! - The Daily Reckoning

The woods are full of bad guys!

Jun 11, 2015

- By Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner
Paris, France

We have mentioned the 'good.' Now, we turn to the bad. Here, we are spoiled for choice, with too many candidates to choose from. Lacking any better selection criteria, we'll go with what is in the news.

From last week's news came a report that the TSA has been wasting our time and shamelessly bullying us all for years.

There was always a surreal and even cruel quality to the airport security checks. We recall that we stood in line as an old lady was forced to get up from her wheel chair, painfully shuffle into the radar booth, stand with her hands over head, and then totter out the other side. She could barely hold herself erect...but the 'test' proved, as we all looked on in disbelief, the TSA agent forced her to repeat the exercise.

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Did anyone believe the frail woman posed a threat to airline safety? The TSA agents? The people lined up, waiting for their own inspection? But no one objected - not even her son, your editor. We have all been trained to keep our mouths shut, even when we are subjected to senseless inconveniences and indignities.

But last week, came a report that showed just how useless all this 'security' has been. A study done by the TSA itself found that travelers were easily able to smuggle mock weapons and fake explosives past the screeners. In 67 out of 70 episodes, TSA agents missed the banned items and let the passenger go by.

Two good questions arise: why bother with it...and why haven't there been more terrorist incidents?

The first question is easily answered. The security checks could be stopped immediately with no appreciable loss in real safety. The second question is easily dealt with too - why has there been not a single serious terrorist event, involving an airplane, in the last 12 years? TSA hasn't stopped them. Why? Because there really aren't any terrorists...or so few it is not worth worrying about them?

Wait, you may say...if we give up our TSA, then the terrorists may take it as a green light to go on the attack. But what difference would it make? If they went on the attack today, 9 out of 10 of them would glide through the checkpoints.

Homeland Security is just an excuse to scare people, boss them around, and take their money. But at least DHS doesn't kill people - at least not yet.

And neither do the zombies who run the Export-Import Bank. The bank helps American companies sell their products overseas by financing and subsidizing the purchases for the foreign buyers. This costs US taxpayers money - about $2 billion over the next 10 years. But it boosts profits of the companies involved. In other words, it is a form of larceny, taking money from some people in order to give it to others. The other most favored recipient is Boeing.

A small group in Congress has been trying to get rid of the Ex-Im Bank for decades. But it is an uphill battle. The cronies want to keep it, naturally. And the US Chamber of Commerce, a nest of cronyism, has launched a $1 million campaign to save it.

The Chamber had an ad campaign a few years ago called "Save Free Enterprise." But nobody wants to save free enterprise. The Chamber wants to save free money, not free enterprise.

And here's another candidate for the 'bad' category:

DEA agents and local police deserve a good whack with a hard stick. They've been helping themselves to other peoples' money by pretending that the money is ill-gotten gains. Often, it is not ill-gotten at all, until it was gotten by the agents themselves.

All over the country, and in Canada too, police are going wild, taking money away from honest (and sometimes, dishonest) citizens.

A young man was taking the train from Detroit to California, hoping to start a new music video company. He took with him his life savings -- $16,000, in cash. But the lucre was just too filthy for the DEA to resist. The agents took it away from him. The young man was never charged with a crime. No drugs. No guns. No nothing.

The Washington Post covered the story:

    Joseph Rivers was hoping to hit it big. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the aspiring businessman from just outside of Detroit had pulled together $16,000 in seed money to fulfill a lifetime dream of starting a music video company. Last month, Rivers took the first step in that voyage, saying goodbye to the family and friends who had supported him at home and boarding an Amtrak train headed for Los Angeles.

    He never made it. From the Albuquerque Journal:

    A DEA agent boarded the train at the Albuquerque Amtrak station and began asking various passengers, including Rivers, where they were going and why. When Rivers replied that he was headed to LA to make a music video, the agent asked to search his bags. Rivers complied.

    The agent found Rivers's cash, still in a bank envelope...

    The agents found nothing in Rivers's belongings that indicated that he was involved with the drug trade: no drugs, no guns. They didn't arrest him or charge him with a crime. But they took his cash anyway, every last cent, under the authority of the Justice Department's civil asset forfeiture program.

    The DEA declined to comment in detail to the Albuquerque Journal's Joline Guierrez Krueger, though it did say that Rivers was not targeted because of his race. The Albuquerque DEA office did not immediately respond to a request by The Washington Post for more information about the case.

    Once property has been seized, the burden of proof falls on the defendant to get it back -- even if the cops ultimately never charge them with a crime. "We don't have to prove that the person is guilty," an Albuquerque DEA agent told the Journal.

In another case, a couple had $118,000 seized from their bank account. What was their crime? None. They were merely the target of money-hungry agents from the US Secret Service. The agents took the money under the "civil forfeiture" rules, which empower government employees to take first and ask questions later. The couple spent years battling to get their money back. By the time the courts finally ordered the feds to give back the cash, the couple had spent $25,000 on the feds refused to re-imburse.

Want more bad guys? The woods are full of them.

How about the bums at the Federal Reserve? How about the whole 'security' industry? How about the slouches on food stamps and disability? How about the drug industry?

Or take Congress. Please.

Tomorrow...the ugly. Stay tuned.

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

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