Archive for May 1st, 2023

It’s hard to pick the worst government policy since there are so many options.

  • Death tax – The IRS penalizing saving and investment by grabbing money just because someone dies.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – Government entities that helped give us the 2008 financial crisis.
  • OECD subsidies – American tax dollars flowing to a Paris-based bureaucracy that pushes for bigger government.
  • Asset forfeiture – When bureaucrats steal money or property because they think a crime may have occurred.

Normally, I might argue that asset forfeiture is the worst policy. It is reprehensible that government officials seize property without ever convicting someone of a crime.

Of sometimes without even charging someone with a crime.

But there’s a version of asset forfeiture that represents an impossible level of government depravity.

Here’s what George Will wrote for the Washington Post about a state government’s mistreatment of an elderly woman.

“Minnesota nice…” expires when grasping government wants to steal your house. Just ask Geraldine Tyler, 94, the Black grandmother… In 2010, alarmed by neighborhood disorder, Tyler, retired and living alone, moved from her Minneapolis condominium to a senior living center. She neglected to pay taxes on her one-bedroom condominium, and by 2015 the $2,300 due in back taxes — combined with penalties, interest and fees — brought her liability to $15,000. The county seized and sold her property for $40,000. Tyler is not challenging the propriety of the seizure or sale, but of the county’s home equity theft. Instead of returning $25,000 to her, the government, in a common act of legalized self-dealing, kept $25,000… Such predatory forfeiture is done by a dozen states and the District of Columbia, which took a $200,000 home from a man with dementia and a $133 tax debt.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to end this odious practice.

Billy Binion of Reason shared some thoughts about the legal case.

The Supreme Court…heard arguments in a consequential case. The query before the justices: Was it unconstitutional when the government seized a woman’s home over an unpaid tax bill, sold it for more than the amount of the debt, and then kept the profit? …Multiple federal courts ruled against Tyler, who is now 94 years old, prior to her case’s ascension to the Supreme Court… Christina M. Martin, a senior attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation…said…”the county should have taken the property, sold it, paid the debts from the proceeds, and refunded the remainder to Ms. Tyler. Instead, the county took everything.” It’s a line of thinking the Court appeared receptive to.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Supreme Court rules against the Minnesota bureaucrats who are trying to steal money from an old woman.

I know Clarence Thomas is skeptical of this abusive practice. Let’s hope all of the other Justices join him in voting to return Ms. Tyler’s money.

And, in a just world, hopefully they will issue a broad ruling ending all versions of “policing for profit.”

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: