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IPFS News Link • Tyranny

Tyranny Comes to Main Street

•, by James Bovard

Politicians are hell-bent on protecting citizens against everything except Uncle Sam. Is America becoming a Cage Keeper Democracy where voters merely ratify the latest demolition of their rights and liberties?

"We live in a world in which everything has been criminalized," warned Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. There are now more than 5,200 separate federal criminal offenses, a 36% increase since the 1990s, along with tens of thousands of state and local crimes. More laws mean more violators who can be harshly punished on command, resulting in the arrests of more than 10 million Americans each year. Thanks to the Supreme Court, police can lock up anyone accused of "even a very minor criminal offense" such as an unbuckled seatbelt.

The Founding Fathers saw property rights as "the guardian of every other right." But today's politicians never lack a pretext for plundering private citizens. Despite being charged with no crime, half a million Americans have been robbed by government agents on the nation's sidewalks, highways, and airports in recent decades. Federal law enforcement agencies arbitrarily confiscate more property from Americans each year than all the burglars steal nationwide. The IRS pilfered more cash from private bank accounts because of alleged paperwork errors than the total looted by bank robbers nationwide. Federal bureaucrats blocked landowners from farming or building on a hundred million acres of their own property because of puddles, ditches, or other suspected wet spots.

Police have killed more than 25,000 citizens since the turn of the century, but the federal government does not even bother compiling a body count. SWAT teams use battering rams and flash-bang grenades to attack 50,000 homes a year, routinely terrorizing people suspected of dastardly crimes like spraying graffiti or running poker games. Cops in many cities have been caught planting guns on hapless targets, while corrupt police labs fabricated tens of thousands of bogus drug convictions. Police unions have more sway over government policy than anyone on the wrong end of a baton or Taser. Despite perpetual promises of reform, most police who brutalize private citizens still automatically receive legal immunity. Federal Judge Don Willett derided the "Constitution-free zone" courts created where "individuals whose constitutional rights are violated at the hands of federal officers are essentially remedy-less."