Can this be true?

by on November 19, 2015 at 1:37 pm in Current Affairs, Data Source, Economics, Law, Political Science | Permalink

Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989. Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year. According to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals [emphasis added].

That is from Martin Armstrong, via Noah Smith and Michael Hendrix.  While private sector robberies are underreported by a considerable amount, this is nonetheless a startling contrast.

Can this be true?

1 Art Deco November 19, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Is it your contention that someone has a right to the proceeds of drug running, racketeering, and money laundering?

2 adam November 19, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Is it your contention that the US Attorneys actually had evidence that the forfeited assets were the proceeds of drug running, racketeering, money laundering, or any other crime?

3 Uber alles November 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

It is my contention that if asset forfeiture and fines all went to, say, a charity to support victims of crimes (instead of padding the budgets of prosecutors and enforcement agencies) we’d see a lot less Civil Asset forfeiture.

Who denies that?

4 Anon November 19, 2015 at 2:24 pm

We don’t think that, just that the government has to prove their case before being allowed to seize the revenue. Right now the owner has to prove that the property is not guilty. Also, the the proceeds should have some reasonable relationship to the crime. You can’t seize the parent’s house because their son was drug dealing outside the house.

5 John November 19, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Exactly — because the own is not chaged the 4th, or so it’s claimed, no longer applies. Talk about some really twisted, tortured logic! (But the one good thing that came frmo this whole mess was John Oliver’s routine! )

6 Dan November 19, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Well, America has a right to all the profits and proceeds that it generates….. Its one criminal stealing from the other if you ask me. America killed, extorted, raped, exterminated and stole from African and indeginous people in its ascent to the world’s foremost economic power. The things they stole, they claimed as their own; the empire we live in today is a direct result of the land, money and lives that were stolen. So to answer your question, YES! the criminals have a right to the proceeds of their illegal pursuits in as much as the crimminals who are taking it from them have a right to theirs.

Can I get an Amen?

7 Carl November 19, 2015 at 2:58 pm

No. Slavery retarded the economic growth of America, it didn’t advance it.

8 Dan November 19, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Dear Carl,

Are you yourself retarded? How could free labor retard any economic enterprise? …..Especially an agricultural economy? Maybe you mean having an agricultural economy retarded the US’s growth….but surely you do not mean SLAVERY. For it is clear that Americas wealth was built on such a practice. Also, slavery did not just advance the agricultural economy in America. It also played a CENTRAL role in the shaping and development of America’s financial markets and corporations, legal system, military, and foreigein and domestic policy.

So dont even.

Also, you did not speak to my larger point which was that if America is stripping away the assets of those who may or may not have obtained them illegally, shouldnt it too strip itself of all that it has gained illegally? If a theif steals from a theif, who is wrong? Obviously both. So both should be held accountable. My only point is that the comments on here often times are from a privelaged worldview where one very obvious sode of the issue is ignored because it would be too much to deal with the truth of the matter. Like in this case….where a crimminal enterprise is stwaling from a criminal. We would rather talk about the criminal, and not the crimminal enterprise because addressing the criminal enterprise which we are all a part of and contribute to, would be too much for us to handle.

Whatever.

9 Jan November 19, 2015 at 6:28 pm

What if the communists had also employed slavery? Super retarded!

10 chuck martel November 19, 2015 at 6:39 pm

The Communists did employ slavery. Isn’t the theft of the fruit of labor slavery in itself? Just because the state allows the confiscation of wealth doesn’t make it right, just as the state once held slavery to be legal. Seizure of property without due process is simply theft, period.

11 Kevin November 19, 2015 at 9:40 pm

Dan said: “Are you yourself retarded? How could free labor retard any economic enterprise? …..Especially an agricultural economy? Maybe you mean having an agricultural economy retarded the US’s growth….but surely you do not mean SLAVERY.”

How? See Acemoglu & Robinson, Why Nations Fail (2012).
Then compare economic growth/development rates between the North & South from initial colonization through… hell, now.
IIRC, Acemoglu directly addresses the gap between the North & South, and argues fairly persuasively how the extractive institution of slavery did/does retard ec growth/dev.

12 Anon November 19, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Human capital growth in tandem with technological growth explains modern economic growth (why we have iphones and our ancestors had outhouses). Slavery retarded both human capital growth (because it prevented the education of blacks) and possibly technological growth (to the extent that slaves substituted for labor-saving technological innovations). This proposition is supported by the fact that the South has historically been much less developed than the North.

13 Gene Callahan November 20, 2015 at 1:36 am

Dan and Harding, you are introducing an irrelevancy. Perhaps there was some alternate arrangement under which the South might have grown more rapidly — although European wage labor was tried, and face the problem that the workers died like flies in the semi-tropical American South — but IN FACT, it was slavery that built that wealth that actually did exist.

14 Nathan W November 20, 2015 at 3:09 am

I think the key is “agricultural economy”.

15 Gene Callahan November 21, 2015 at 3:22 am

No, E. Harding, the point flew over YOUR head: whether or not the South MIGHT have been wealthier under some other system, the ACTUAL wealth of the South was built on slavery, and so Dan’s basic point is completely valid. Whether some other system might have produced even more wealth is a red herring.

16 JT November 19, 2015 at 5:02 pm

PC Principal disapproves of your use of the word “retarded.”

17 Pshrnk November 19, 2015 at 11:12 pm

Take it easy Dan! How u gonna finish that degree at Mizzou unless you get back to the books?

18 Dan November 20, 2015 at 1:22 am

I cant believe I am even arguing this. Pick up a book by Herbert S. Klein or something. Dont quote to me Acemaglou whose conclusions about slavery are based on data analysis without proper historical context.

Even if slavery retarded economic growth (it didnt but let’s say it did just for the sake of argument), does that then mean that slavery was not capable of being the engine for Americas ascent to the worlds foremost economic power? No! It does not mean that. If slavery retarded growth it simply means that it slowed down growth. Certainly we can all agree that the southern economy experienced TREMENDOUS growth from 1619 to 1865. Southern Cotton was more than a cash crop during some of those years, it was white gold! So… without slavery to retard it, maybe the south experiences even more growth but we must still face the fact that any growth that it did experience happened under the terrible system of slavery. You cannot get around the truth.

Now as to if slavery actually retarded growth…thats easy. It absolutely did not – certainly not for the reasons presented by Anon. Sure, all things being equal, a class of uneducated workers which comprise about half of the total population WOULD hinder growth and progress. But this was not an all things equal system. Blacks primary function in the society was to be marginalized and taken advantage of by whites. The southern economic system was one that was set up to benefit white people and their institutions at the expense of blacks. Therefore, having a class of uneducated blacks that could be easily trained and transferred between occupations depending on white peoples needs SUPPORTED the systems growth and development. This is what i mean about acemaglu. He comes to wacky conclusions because he trusts that his data will provide him with the context necessary to analyze the issue…but data is not a substitute for historical perspective.

Can I get an Amen yet?

19 Gene Callahan November 20, 2015 at 1:39 am

Dan, the real point to stress here is I think the one I made above: and that you note: even if some alternate arrangement might have produced EVEN MORE growth, the growth that actually occurred was built on slavery. That is just a fact, and we don’t need to argue counter-factuals to assert it.

20 Carl November 20, 2015 at 2:55 am

No. Retard means slow not shrink. But that said, I reread your original post and I concede that, as Gene Callahan says, you don’t have to deal in counterfactuals to prove that theft (of property and freedom) was committed against the slaves.
And that said, your larger point is fatuous. You’re saying nobody should obey any property laws because if you go back far enough all property is fruit of the poisoned tree. You talk about the whites only but if you follow your principle you’ll see that the Iroquois slaughtered the Hurons. What’s more, you’ll damn the son of the abolitionist for the crime of the plantation owner.

Well, sad to say but no country had an immaculate birth. If we want to live in a peaceful and prosperous country we have to accept that theft has a statute of limitations. To think otherwise is to doom society to endless conflict and poverty.

21 Nathan W November 20, 2015 at 3:15 am

I agree with you, but I don’t think you’re going to get many people here agreeing.

22 Dan November 20, 2015 at 7:27 am

Gene Callahan – excellent point! There was no need to argue counterfactuals to make my point BUT I did so only because many people require extra evidence of even the most basic facts concerning race dynamics. Carl is one of those people and his most recent post illustrates that.

Carl – whats up with you man? You clearly do not live by any sort of moral code. If the views expressed in your post reflect what you actually feel, I pray for you and anyone whose life you are a part of. For the sake of your soul and your humanity, I am choosong to charge you with ‘willfull ignorance to the facts’ instead of the more serious crime of being an evil racist, although one could argue that they are one and the same. Its funny how you think Americas crimes should somehow be thrown out the window simply because they happened “a long time ago.” Hahaha. That is so very….white privelagee….. of you… to just dismiss your crime and begin the crime report at the point where someone else messes up. MEANWHILE… you give no regard to the fact that America is still recieving dividends from the crimes it commited so long ago. In fact, the most heinous crimes that America has committed (those involving the genocide, murder, rape and economic enslavement of black and brown people) is a major reason why the incidences of crime among blacks and minorities is so high. However, you would rather that we focus on the criminal than the system that created the criminal because the system that created the criminal implicates YOU and leads to the inevidable conclusion that Americas assets should be forfeited back to the people that it was stolen from…….oh, but its too late for all of that! Thats not even practical! Right? How convenient.

Do you know how offensive it is to say to the native Americans now living in conditions of squalor on reservations that the crimes committed against them is now subject to a statute of limitations which, again, ever so conveniently, has already kicked in!? Hahaha…as if their condition is not a DIRECT result of PAST AND ONGOING crimes being committed against them. Over 100 MILLION americans were exterminated by the colonialists (by contrast hitler killed about 6 million jews) and today, they are still marginalized – politically and economically.

And whatever was going on between their subcultures at the time of colinial expansion into their territory has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CRIMES THAT WERE PERPATRATED AGAINST THEM BY THE COLONIALISTS. Surely, you know this, right?The fact that native american tribes went to war with one another does not excuse the wrong done to them by an outside force….an outside force which benefits anew each day from the wrongs they have committed against them.

All Im saying is that we should acknowledge Americas criminal record as a mitigating factor in the crimes referenced in the main post. AND it is no suprise that America is illegally seizing property from folks because thats what this whole system is founded on. So before you throw stones at the criminals, atleast do humanity a favor and acknowledge Americas own transgressions. If you do, you will find nothing shocking or out of the ordinary about America illegally seizing the property of other crimminals.

Someone…please give me an Amen!

23 Cliff November 20, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Dan, your grasp of history and reality are tenuous at best. The colonists did not kill anywhere near 100 million American Indians, not even close. And the American Indians were by and large brutal and would gladly have killed the colonists if they could have. Aggression, torture, rape and kidnapping were literally routine for many of the tribes. There would have been no reservations for the whites if the tribes had their way.

Furthermore, no one alive today had anything to do with slavery or with the fate of the American Indians. Certainly my ancestors who were in Europe had nothing to do with it. It is racist in the extreme to assign some guilt to me because my skin is the wrong color.

24 Dan November 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Cliff – even if rape torture and killing was rampant in native american society (it wasnt, but lets say that it was), Native Americans were not killing in the name of a corporation with a profit motive. The colonialists turned killing and rape and slavery and brutality into an economic enterprise. If the indians were that way to begin with, there wouldnt jave been any of them left by the time colonialista arrived. And i know my facts. The number of natives killed by colonialists is actually higher than 100 million.

Also, whatever sort of issues they had going on does not excuse, justify or make easier to swallow what the colonialists did to them. Their issues were their issues. They are aeperate and distinct from the problems presented when colonialists showed up to seize their land, gold, women, children, culture and lives.

25 Peter Schaeffer November 20, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Dan,

“Even if slavery retarded economic growth (it didnt but let’s say it did just for the sake of argument), does that then mean that slavery was not capable of being the engine for Americas ascent to the worlds foremost economic power ”

America became a world power after 1865 (really after 1900) base on industrial power. Almost all of the at industrial power was in the North (back then) and was built and operated by free labor.

“Certainly we can all agree that the southern economy experienced TREMENDOUS growth from 1619 to 1865”

Sure, but the economy of the North grew even more with free labor which is the relevant comparison.

“Southern Cotton was more than a cash crop during some of those years, it was white gold!”

The Southern states were poorer (on average) than the North before the Civil War. The North (without slavery) was more developed in all respects (education, railroads, industry, farming, etc.).

No doubt slave owners favored the status quo. They owned the slaves and they were valuable property. The dominant group in any society almost always favors the status quo. So what? That doesn’t make the system productive of generally effective. The leaders of the USSR favored the status quo for decades as well. So did the Maoists in China and the Khmer Rouge.

Today we have a new class of plantation plutocrats who favor Open Borders. Of course, Open Borders is a disaster for society as a whole. So what? The new plantation plutocracy favors the status quo and isn’t interested in the alternatives.

No Amen’s for you until you learn something.

26 Carl November 20, 2015 at 8:57 pm

Dan:

Was slavery an abomination? Yes.
Were the Native Americans badly mistreated and was their land expropriated? Yes.
Did it make sense to give Plantation owners’ land to their freed slaves after the Civil War? Yes. They were the ones who committed the crime.

Now on to more difficult questions…

Does it make sense to hold criminal the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great (G8) grandson of an abolitionist?
Does it make sense to charge taxes to the children of immigrants to pay for the crime committed against the G8 grandson of a slave who may also be the G8 grandson of a slaveholder?
Did German national reparations payments after WW1 help make France a better place to live?
Did national reparations payments in Zimbabwe help make Zimbabwe a better place to live?
Is there any country in the world that is not criminal by your definition? And, does that mean we should all be anarchists.

Now, get down off your Shetland Pony.

27 Dan November 20, 2015 at 10:37 pm

E. Harding — 100million+ is the number. Show me evidence to the contrary and i will gladly shutup……

Waiting.

28 Peter Schaeffer November 21, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Dan,

Life for the innumerate.

From “Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas” (Wikipedia)

“While it is difficult to determine exactly how many Natives lived in North America before Columbus,[6] estimates range from a low of 2.1 million (Ubelaker 1976) to 7 million people (Russell Thornton) to a high of 18 million (Dobyns 1983).[7]

The Aboriginal population of Canada during the late 15th century is estimated to have been between 200,000[8] and two million,[9] with a figure of 500,000 currently accepted by Canada’s Royal Commission on Aboriginal Health.[10] Repeated outbreaks of Old World infectious diseases such as influenza, measles and smallpox (to which they had no natural immunity), were the main cause of depopulation. This combined with other factors such as dispossession from European/Canadian settlements and numerous violent conflicts resulted in a forty- to eighty-percent aboriginal population decrease after contact.[8] For example, during the late 1630s, smallpox killed over half of the Wyandot (Huron), who controlled most of the early North American fur trade in what became Canada. They were reduced to fewer than 10,000 people.[”

Note that North America includes Mexico. The aboriginal population of the U.S would have been much lower although higher than Canada.

From “Native American Demographic and Tribal Survival into the Twenty-first Century” by Russell Thornton (considered to be a high estimate)

“The indigenous tribal populations of North America north of the Rio Grande River—referred to generically here as “Native Americans,” a term encompassing American Indians, Inuit (Eskimo), and Aleutian Islanders—declined drastically following European colonization. How drastic the decline was is debated since estimates of aboriginal population size for the area vary widely. The classic estimate of aboriginal population size for this area is James Mooney’s 1,152,000 million for North America north of the Rio Grande River at first (extensive) European contact (see Mooney 1928). Subsequent scholars generally accepted Mooney’s estimate until 1966, when Henry Dobyns (1966) asserted an aboriginal population size for North America north of Mexico of between 9.8 and 12.25 million; in i983, he increased his asserted size to 18 million (north of Mesoamerica) (see Dobyns 1983).

Scholars now agree that Mooney’s population estimate significantly underestimated aboriginal population size for the area north of the Rio Grande River. Most scholars also consider Dobyns’s estimates to be excessive, although little consensus for a higher population figure exists. Estimates vary from around 2 million by Douglas Ubelaker (1988) to almost 4 million (reduced from an earlier estimate of almost 4.5 million) by William M. Denevan (1992 [1976], xviixxix) to the slightly more than 7 million estimate I arrived at and continue to use. My estimate includes somewhat more than 5 million people for the conterminous United States area and somewhat more than 2 million for present-day Canada, Alaska, and Greenland combined. (See Daniel 1992, for a recent, thorough consideration of North American estimates.)”

Note that Thornton’s estimate for Canada greatly exceeds the current best work for Canada. Presumably his estimate for the United States is similarly biased.

So how many people actually died at the hands of U.S.? From “Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas”

“From the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1894): “The Indian wars under the government of the United States have been more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats, and the lives of about 30,000 Indians. The actual number of killed and wounded Indians must be very much higher than the given… Fifty percent additional would be a safe estimate..”

100 million versus 50,000? Off by a factor of 2000? ‘

Feelings vs. facts? Stick with feelings. You will be happier that way.

29 Peter Schaeffer November 20, 2015 at 10:26 am

Dan,

Of the major nations in the Western Hemisphere the U.S. imported the fewest slaves (in both relative and absolute terms). Cuba imported more slaves than the U.S. Is Cuba more or less prosperous than the U.S.? Brazil imported far more slaves than the U.S. Is Brazil more or less prosperous than the U.S.? The U.S. imported 388,000 slaves (directly, another 60-70,000 indirectly). Brazil imported 4.86 million slaves (See The Root for the details).

So Brazil is ten times richer than the U.S.? Really? Facts are a problem.

Northern agriculture was developed entirely without slavery. Did Northern agriculture wither and fade? Far from it. All American agriculture was developed without slavery, after the Civil War. The Great Plains were turned into a massive breadbasket after the Civil War without slavery.

Of course, none of this really happened… Because the truth would be “inconvenient”…

In truth the greatest agriculture development of this nation was done entirely without slavery. Slavery caused the South to lag before the Civil War and (indirectly) after it.

Attributing American economic success to slavery is useful left-wing guilt trip. It is not factual.

30 Dan November 20, 2015 at 11:50 am

This is why CONTEXT and historical perspective is so important Peter. The US imported less slaves because their particular brand of slavery was different. The US corporatized slavery in a way that spain, portugal, the dutch and the british, did not. They raised their slaves in house to completely strip the slaves of their identity and history. They also imported less slaves cuz slave expeditions were a tremendous cost that required public-private partnerships on a scale that the south could not afford with its decentralized government. So yes, america only imported a few hundred thousand slaves but by 1865, millions of slaves were set free and millions more did not make it to see freedom.

And what world are u living in where African slavery and agriculture are not intimately tied? The north did have agriculture — they also had slaves. They chose to substitute away from agricultural slavery as industry and technology emerged as their path forward. But the slave trading markets of Dc and the new england states were very active and real in the 1700’s. So plz, go back to ur facts…good facts by the way…and put them in the appropriate historical context

31 Cliff November 20, 2015 at 2:10 pm

The international slave trade was banned in the U.S. pretty early on, that was the main reason. No one needed to plan an “expedition”.

32 Dan November 20, 2015 at 2:20 pm

CLIFF…. WHY WAS THE SLAVE TRADE BANNED EARLY ON?? IF YOU ANSWER THAT, YOU WILL SEE MY POINT. it was banned for the economic reasons I described.

33 Peter Schaeffer November 20, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Dan,

“The US corporatized slavery in a way that spain, portugal, the dutch and the british, did not”

Plantation slavery was just as prevalent in Spanish, Portuguese, Durch, and British colonies as in the U.S. The following quotes from “Slavery Abolition Act 1833” (Wikipedia) should make this clear.

“The Act provided for compensation for slave-owners who would be losing their property. The amount of money to be spent on the compensation claims was set at “the Sum of Twenty Millions Pounds Sterling”.[12] Under the terms of the Act, the British government raised £20 million (£69.93 billion in 2013 pounds)[13] to pay out in compensation for the loss of the slaves as business assets to the registered owners of the freed slaves. The names listed in the returns for slave compensation show that ownership was spread over many hundreds of British families,[14] many of them of high social standing. For example, Henry Phillpotts (then the Bishop of Exeter), with three others (as trustees and executors of the will of John Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley), was paid £12,700 for 665 slaves in the West Indies,[15] whilst Henry Lascelles, 2nd Earl of Harewood received £26,309 for 2,554 slaves on 6 plantations.[16] The majority of men and women who were awarded compensation under the 1833 Abolition Act are listed in a Parliamentary Return, entitled Slavery Abolition Act, which is an account of all moneys awarded by the Commissioners of Slave Compensation in the Parliamentary Papers 1837–8 Vol. 48″

If anything, slave ownership outside the U.S. was more concentrated and more plantation based, than in the U.S.

“They also imported less slaves cuz slave expeditions were a tremendous cost that required public-private partnerships on a scale that the south could not afford with its decentralized government.”

Wrong again. The South did not import slaves (on a large scale) because the importation of slaves was banned in 1808. See “Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves” (Wikipedia). The penalty for violating the law was death.

“So yes, america only imported a few hundred thousand slaves but by 1865, millions of slaves were set free and millions more did not make it to see freedom.”

The Census of 1860 records 3,953,761 slaves, representing 12.6% of the total population. Brazil imported 4.86 million slaves (4.86 million is greater than 3.954 million, look it up). Somehow 4.86 million slaves failed to make Brazil rich, but 3.954 million (12.6% of the population) made America successful.

“The north did have agriculture — they also had slaves”

Sure the North had slaves. But let’s try numbers. In 1790, New Hampshire had 157 slaves, Rhode Island 958, Connecticut 2,648, New York 21,193, New Jersey 11,425, Pennsylvania 3707, Vermont 16, Northwest Territory 3,417 for a Northern total of 39,796. The total slave population of the U.S. in 1790 was 697,624. That means that 5.7% of the slave population was in the North.

The total population of the U.S. in 1790 was 3,929,214. The Northern states had 1.968 million people (excluding the Northwest Territory). That puts the slave population of the North at less than 2% of the total population. Note that the Northern slave population declined drastically after 1790. But I guess that 2% accounts for Northern agriculture… Amazing what you can “learn” on the Internet.

By 1860, the total population of the North had grown to 18.943 million and the number of slaves was zero. In 1860, 80% of the U.S. population was rural. The percentage would have been lower in the North, but not by much.

Like it not, slavery played an essentially zero role in the development of the Northern economy, including both agriculture and industry. Even before the revolution, slavery in the North was tiny. After the revolution, slavery disappeared in the North and the North went on to become dominant in every respect (population, industry, agriculture, technology, etc.)

From “Industry and Economy during the Civil War” (NPS)

“Even in the agricultural sector, Northern farmers were out-producing their southern counterparts in several important areas, as Southern agriculture remained labor intensive while northern agriculture became increasingly mechanized. By 1860, the free states had nearly twice the value of farm machinery per acre and per farm worker as did the slave states, leading to increased productivity. As a result, in 1860, the Northern states produced half of the nation’s corn, four-fifths of its wheat, and seven-eighths of its oats.”

You need to get past guilt trips as a substitute for facts.

34 Peter Schaeffer November 20, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Dan,

Go read some history. The slave trade was banned in 1808, because the 20 year constitution ban on any such law expired. See Article 1, Section 9. The Northern states were eager to immediately ban the slave trade. The Southern states were just as intent on continuing it indefinitely. Since the Northern states had the votes to immediately ban the slave trade, the 1808 date was a compromise.

Why were the Northern states so eager to end the slave trade? Because Northern anti-slavery opinion was very strong even before the revolution. Part of it was philosophic opposition to slavery and part of it was opposition to the kind of society slavery created.

35 Dan November 20, 2015 at 3:51 pm

Peter….

I really did not want to respond to you but since you put the time into forming a rebuttal i will entertain your argument, though I may lose a few brain cells by doing so.

As to my first point…i never said anything about the raw numbers of slavery. I know the number of slaves held inside the borders of each colonial power and i know how many slaves each colonial power was responsible for shipping to a foreign land. Read my words again….

“The US corporatized slavery in a way that spain, portugal, the dutch and the british did not.”

This has little to do with numbers, and much more to do with the nature of the syatem. U do know that there are many different brands of alavery right? So for examplr, the slavery that was instituted in ancient egypt was not the same as the slavery instituted in rome; and the slavery that was instituted in rome was not the same as the system instituted by the arabs; and that system was not the same as the system instituted by african nations; and that system was not at all similar to what spain instituted in cuba and that system was not the same as what was ibstituted in America. What made these aystems different? Barrieres to entry and exit! America had without question the MOST RIGID SYSTEM OF SLAVERY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. That was my point. Regardless of numbers, the American style of alavery was unseen and unheard of previously. spain for instance, allowed slaves in cuba to marry, hold property, purchase their freedom, perform freelance work, serve in the military, become doctors and politicians and otherwise advance in the ranks of the elite. That was not even a possibility in America. In america, slaves were not even considered human. They had no right to even the most basic of basic human rights and crimes committed against them were always legally justifiable.

So my point is that US slavery did not need to rely on slave importations because colonialists created a rigid enuf system to where the population could be grown WITHIN its own borders.

Im not going any furthwr until u understand this point because theres nothing more to say to you if you dont get this.

36 Art Deco November 20, 2015 at 5:32 pm

America had without question the MOST RIGID SYSTEM OF SLAVERY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. That was my point. Regardless of numbers, the American style of alavery was unseen and unheard of previously. spain for instance, allowed slaves in cuba to marry,

You are aware that slaves were commonly castrated in the Arab world, that the advent of serfdom in the early medieval period induced a considerable increase in the birth rate because serfs were allowed a family life and the slave gangs of late antiquity commonly were not, and that slaves were paired off in domestic couplings in British North American and the United States?

(No, you’re not aware. You’re running on verbose historical fiction).

37 Peter Schaeffer November 21, 2015 at 1:15 am

Dan,

Your claim that America had the “MOST RIGID SYSTEM OF SLAVERY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD” is factually testable in some crucial respects.

No surprise in discovering you are wrong. In “Time on the Cross” (by Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman) the authors showed that slave life expectancy was only somewhat lower than white life expectancy (around 10% lower). Of course, the slave population of the United States grew substantially from the time of Revolution until the Civil War almost entirely from natural increase (the excess of births over deaths).

Note that the U.S. was apparently the only country where slave populations rose from natural increase. In all (apparently) other slave countries deaths greatly exceeded births (which accounts for the vast numbers of slaves those countries imported).

The relatively high life expectancy of U.S. slaves (much higher than whites in Northern cities) combined with the uniquely high level of natural increase in the U.S. show that your claims are not factually based.

I get that you have “emotion”, and “facts” are just things in the way of “feeling your pain / guilt”.

Emotion vs. facts. Each of us has to choose.

38 Dan November 20, 2015 at 10:33 pm

You are all in denial and it is pretty hillarious. I guess when you put things in a pan to fire, its only natural that they try to jump out.

Look – the great great great great great great and so on grandsons and grandaughters should absolutely be held accountable for the crimes that were committed in the past. Y should they not be? Rspecially when the crimes that were committed in the past are actually not in the past at all. Just 50 years ago we had to sign legislayion into law to give blacks basic civil rights protections. Blacks were still unable to vote! So obviously, the legacy of racial disenfranchisement is not as distant as we would like to say. It was not your G8 ancestory that was doing the bad stuff, it was your uncle and father. Furthermore, its obvious that even today the legacy of racial disenfranchisement is still alive and well. I do not need to pull up all of the many shocking statistics on economic inequality between blacks and whites because we have all seen them many times. Instead i will point to a more fundemental issue….. how many of you are aware that slavery in america was never abolished?????? Read the 13th amendment again…it says the slavery is abolished in the US EXCEPT AS PUNISHMENT FOR A CRIME WHEREBY THE PARTY HAS BEEN DUELY CONVICTED THEREOF…or sum jargon like that… look it up. So with that being said, i would seriously welcome any argument saying that the astronomically high incarceration rate for african americans is not related to that amendment, especially given americas history. So yes…. all the colonialist babies should be implicated because although they did not enslave anyone per say, they advance the system and build on the legacy of disenfranchisement authored by the forefathers. Also, the babies still benefit from the retardation of black enterprises caused by racist policies which targeted blacks. So again, yes, YOU should be held accountable and any true lover of justice, any real man, would admit that readily. But i dont expect that from you data scientists becuz u think all the answers are in the data. Dumbasses.

39 Peter Schaeffer November 21, 2015 at 1:04 am

Dan,

The 13th Amendment reads

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The provision you seem to be upset about “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” simply means that prisoners can be locked up. That makes the United States the same as every other country in the world. In real life, the 13th Amendment ended slavery in the United States. From “Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution” (Wikipedia)

“The impact of the abolition of slavery was felt quickly. When the Thirteenth Amendment became operational, the scope of Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation was widened to include the entire nation. Although the majority of Kentucky’s slaves had been emancipated, 65,000–100,000 people remained to be legally freed when the Amendment went into effect on December 18.[82][83] In Delaware, where a large number of slaves had escaped during the war, nine hundred people became legally free”

Of course, imprisonment for crimes continued in the United States after the ending of slavery. However, it was not a resurrection of slavery by any means. For example, until around 1980, more whites were behind bars than blacks. See “State and Federal Prison and Jail Population Ratios by Race”. See also “Incarceration Rates, 1960 and 2010”. In 1960 (100 years after the Civil War), the overall black incarceration rate was 694 per 100,000. In other words, well less than 1% of black population was locked up.

I understand that the facts don’t favor your thesis. However, using all caps doesn’t make ignorance a valid replacement for substance.

By the way, the imprisonment data reveals one thing very clearly. The 13th Amendment was a “trick” for enslaving men by women. The male/female imprisonment rates have always been gigantic. A feminist plot that you have now revealed.

40 Carl November 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Dan:
You’re right Dan. The 13th Amendment should have said “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States for anyone, including criminals, because our government is itself a criminal entity lacking the moral authority to incarcerate anyone…”

41 Dan November 22, 2015 at 12:08 am

Carl – Amen – That is EXACTLY what the amendment should read.

And Peter… the death toll is 100+million. Native Americans have been targeted and killed for 500+ years. The numbers you mentioned were a gross underestimation and did not include Canada and hiawaii and was relegated to a narrow time period. The few million that were killed off, though significant in and of itself, was just the beginning of the slaughter, that btw is still ongoing. I am done with you racist clowns. Keep believeing in your data.

One other thing Peter — The fact that slaves had long lives does not say anything about the rigidity of the slave system. In fact it supports my point in that it shows that there was no escape for the slaves, even over a lifetime! The slavery in brazil and other places was more intense – the slaves were younger, they were worked harder etc. but the sslave status was not a finality. THERE WAS INDEED SOCIAL MOBILITY IN THOSE SOCIETIES AND SLAVES HAD RIGHTS. SLAVES DID NOT HAVE RIGHTS IN AMERICA. AND BECAUSE THE SYSTEM WAS SO DAMN RIGID, SLAVE MASTERS FELT COMFORTABLE ALLOWING SLAVES TO LIVE THEIR WHOLE LIFE, KNOWING THAT THEY COULD NEVER ESCAPE THEIR STATUS.

DAMN YOU ARE DONE PETER. YOU CANT SEE PAST NUMBERS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. I feel pitty for you.

42 Dan November 22, 2015 at 10:01 am

EL the frick OH EL.
“The provision you seem to be upset about “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” simply means that prisoners can be locked up.”

Hmmm… that is a very funny interpretation of this provision.

So let me get this straight….the amendment essentially says that prisoners can be slaves and you read that as….prisoners can go to jail….

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Do you see how you are wrongly interpreting facts in order to fit your narrative?????????????? You cant even interpret the meaning of a straight forward sentence because your guilt and privilege wont allow you to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

I’m done with you.

43 Carl November 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Dan
Were you asking for a hymen or an amen?

44 John November 19, 2015 at 3:04 pm

You’re making the assumption that all the asset siezed were infact from criminal. The burden of proof for the police to take an asset is merely suspecion and a hunch or the unwhiting connection (such as kids having drug) The burden of proof to get the assets back is significantly higher and inveriable requires agreement from the very department that choose to take the asset in the first place.

You don’t see both an incentive problem and a conflict of interest here?

Anyoen who things we don’t have a serious problem with police corruption, by any reasonable meaning of that word, is fooling themselves. I will agree it’s probably less what one might say is intentional coruption bit it’s mor of an institutional culture corruption that’s also being used by a narrow few that truely have not place in law or policing.

45 Hazel Meade November 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Is it your contention that people shouldn’t have to be convicted of drug running, racketeering or money laundering before having their assets taken?

46 Ricardo November 19, 2015 at 9:25 pm

In Bennis v. Michigan, police seized a car jointly owned by a married couple through civil forfeiture because the husband used the car to pick up hookers. The wife sued to get the car back and the U.S. Supreme Court told her tough luck. So alleged proceeds as well as property that was allegedly involved in a crime can sometimes be seized whether or not the owner did anything wrong and without the government having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was actually committed.

47 European November 20, 2015 at 1:29 am

That’s just wrong.

48 Jake November 20, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Your bias is showing.

Fucking retard.

49 Fred Z November 21, 2015 at 11:54 pm

Yes, that is my contention, given that drug running, racketeering and money laundering are worthwhile activities for the destruction of government assholes.

But I repeat myself.

50 Grant Gould November 19, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Why wouldn’t it be true? Theory says that the unpunished crime will be more common than the punished one, yes? The demand curves are not subtle.

51 PD Shaw November 19, 2015 at 1:50 pm

He seems to imply that there is a direct relationship between burglary and asset forfeiture, whereas asset forfeiture takes place in a wide variety of situations, including drug trafficking and financial fraud. One of the examples in the $4.5 billion link is Bernard Madoff. He is a crook, but no burglar. Also, his crime was multi-year and presumably most of the value seized was given to the victims.

52 Lord Action November 19, 2015 at 1:54 pm

This. Why is it surprising that there is more asset seizure than theft, which is a relatively small part of crime?

53 Christian List November 19, 2015 at 1:58 pm

@PD Shaw
Exactly.

54 Brian November 19, 2015 at 2:12 pm

I wish I could upvote you. This is the explanation.

55 Ray Lopez November 19, 2015 at 2:58 pm

No, PD Shaw’s explanation cannot be right, since the amount of civil asset forfeiture, $12,6 billion, from 1989 to 2010, is much less than the over $10 billion recovered from Bernie Madoff. So clearly the $12.6B is from ‘small time crooks or alleged crooks’ rather than big-time white collar criminals.

The American police are out of control. It’s becoming like the Third World in the USA, with shakedowns by every uniformed officer.

56 PD Shaw November 19, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Madoff was an illustration of a non-burglary-related asset forfeiture that was in Armstrong’s link. Asset forfeitures are theoretically possible for all crimes. Another well-known example, asset forfeiture for viewing child porn.

57 Ray Lopez November 19, 2015 at 9:26 pm

@PD Shaw – not true, it’s not in Armstrong’s link. Look at the original data sourced by Armstrong here: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Forfeiture#sthash.Jek9lLnP.dpbs

You’ll find no mention of the huge sums recovered from Madoff–nearly 10 billion USD–since December 2008. In fact, the drugwarfacts site only lists at best about $4B recovered since then. So Madoff not included.

58 PD Shaw November 19, 2015 at 9:43 pm

No, you are looking at the hyperlink tagged to the $12.6 billion figure (over 20+ years). The hyperlink Armstrong uses to support his claim that the “number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year [2014]” states:

“A Justice Department spokesman pointed out that big cases, like the $1.7 billion Bernie Madoff judgment and a $1.2 billion case associated with Toyota, have led to large deposits to forfeiture funds in a single year.”

59 Ricardo November 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm

I think it is confusing to conflate the Madoff case with the sorts of drug and prostitution cases that usually come up in discussions of civil forfeiture. In Madoff’s case, he was not only indicted for criminal fraud and plead guilty — and grand juries usually have broad powers to order asset freezes when they indict someone for a theft, fraud or white collar offence — but was also sued by the SEC in a civil proceeding since he was a licensed securities brokers who was alleged to have ripped off clients. Madoff was a professional in a highly regulated industry and was sued by his industry’s regulator for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty. As in any lawsuit, property can be ordered seized by the courts once a judgment is entered to compensate victims. I don’t know the exact technicalities of how federal prosecutors and courts forfeited Madoff’s property but I wouldn’t be surprised if the legal justification and proceedings looked different from cases when a landlord or parent has property seized because of a drug offense committed by a tenant or teenage son or daughter.

60 Peter Schaeffer November 21, 2015 at 4:09 am

All,

Madoff never had $10 billion to be forfeited. Not even close. See “Bernie Madoff’s seized assets” (boston.com). Quote

“Court documents filed by defense attorneys indicate Madoff and his wife, Ruth, had up to $826 million in assets at the end of last year. If prosecutors get their way, the Madoffs will have to give up all their assets.”

Over at https://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2009/nyfo062609.htm you can find some details about the assets confiscated from the Madoff’s. The total is less than $100 million. However, other online source show larger forfeitures from the Madoff’s. See “Recovery of funds from the Madoff investment scandal” (Wikipedia). Note that even the largest total are still well below $826 million, much less $10 billion.

61 JWatts November 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm

“The American police are out of control. It’s becoming like the Third World in the USA, with shakedowns by every uniformed officer. ”

I think asset forfeiture is a real issue, but this is ridiculously hyperbolic.

62 Peter Schaeffer November 20, 2015 at 2:09 pm

RL,

The problem with this analysis is that… There was never any $10 billion recovered from Madoff. Madoff never had $10 billion.

63 John November 19, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Could be wron ghere but I don’t believe the assets taken from Madoff or siezed stollen goods are what that program in question is able. The federal program was all about taking assets when the person could not be charged with anything, but it was generally assumed that their quilt was established. The law was passed to get at the assets of US assets of South American drug lord the US could not put in jail and likewise could not directly link to the drugs. It took very little time before it was being abused by the DEA. The program was then expanded to allow reveue sharing with local police. A great example of the results of this was the behavior of the Tennessee state poluce who did nothing to stop the drugs heading north east but setup lots of stops for the retuyrn trip southwest with the cash.

This last seems to be a case where the police have been come the actual dealer of the drugs they claim they want to keep away from our children.

64 Shane M November 19, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Hi John, is there a reference for this. I live in TN and am curious in learning more. thanks,

65 The Original CC November 20, 2015 at 11:01 am

This link has a video from a local news account: http://www.theagitator.com/2011/05/22/highway-robbery-3/

66 Cliff November 19, 2015 at 9:00 pm

There is no direct relationship. It is simply a comparison of all the property stolen by criminals vs. all the property seized by the government without due process (i.e. stolen). Of course the figures are not quite right because there are also robberies and con men, fraudsters, which don’t seem to be considered. So we don’t really know the relative levels but they seem like to be at least comparable.

67 cheesetrader November 20, 2015 at 8:24 am

‘zactly – bit of an apples/oranges thing.

Case in point – the grocery store in Michigan with seized cash assets – they committed no crime – much less burglary

68 Steven November 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Agree with PD Shaw, burglary << all theft + fraud.

69 Christian List November 19, 2015 at 1:57 pm

“This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.”
What have asset forfeiture cases to do with burglary cases? I bet not too much. This comment seems to be really dull.

And by the way: The state is taking more assets than criminals since forever. It’s called taxing. 😛

70 Alain November 19, 2015 at 2:05 pm

> The state is taking more assets than criminals since forever. It’s called taxing.

+1 Excellent.

71 Art Deco November 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm

It’s not dull. It’s selling the idea that cops are the real criminals, which is approximately what Tabarrok believes, and, I guess, the other moderator as well. I’ve relations in Fairfax City. The area is tranquil enough that one might forget certain aspects of life (which manifest themselves across the Potomac).

72 John November 19, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Whiile we cannot paint all police with the same brush to suggest we don’t have a serious problem with our police departments is naive or worse. Clearly many are acting the bruts and thrugs and the departmens and DA offices are not doing anything to correct the behavior.

73 Art Deco November 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm

We don’t have a serious problem. Saying we do manifests an attitude and nothing more.

74 Nathan W November 20, 2015 at 3:23 am

A lot of people disagree with you.

75 Thor November 19, 2015 at 5:10 pm

At least I get *something* when the state taxes me. What do I get when a drug dealer rolls up in a new car?

76 Cliff November 19, 2015 at 9:01 pm

You mean what do you get when the government steals your car?

77 Christian List November 20, 2015 at 1:58 am

“What do I get when a drug dealer rolls up in a new car?”

– Drugs?!

Maybe not you but the people who trade with him. It’s a trade. A voluntary trade (if you are not addicted).

I don’t think I trade with the state on a voluntary basis.

78 Erick November 19, 2015 at 2:07 pm

I suppose certain people want to imply that the government is suddenly taking vast sums of money from innocent people who just happen to work with cash or be in unusual and suspicious, but ultimately legal, situations. But the majority of the increase in forfeiture funds were due to two cases, which both involved uncontested wrongdoing.

79 John November 19, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Then the challenge for us to to help ensure that 1) the police are duing their due dilligence to target the guilty and 2) make it much easier for the inncoent to get their property back. Then perhaps some want to use the fact that some of the actions are legitmate to suggest we not worry about the ones that were not.

80 SG November 19, 2015 at 2:13 pm

PD Shaw and Steven are right on. I think literally the first thing most law students learn in criminal law is that burglary (in most states) is illegal entry of a dwelling with intent to commit crime. On the FBI website, they appear to count burglary and larceny as two separate classes of property crime, and they estimate total larceny losses in 2013 at $7.6b.

So assuming no double-counting, it would be ~$12b in violent property crime losses, and note that that DOESN’T include fraud, embezzlement, and other white collar crimes that I’m sure add up to big dollars.

81 ajg November 19, 2015 at 2:40 pm

I would add only two points: (1) burglary is usually defined as the illegal entry of a dwelling [at night] with intent to commit a crime; and (2) much of the seized assets may relate to profits from illegal activity that is commercial in nature (i.e., trafficking in drugs), not derived from theft. None of this is to say that there isn’t governmental abuse of the civil forfeiture laws – with their low standards of proof – but the highlighted statement is more-or-less an irrelevant comparison.

82 prior_approval November 19, 2015 at 11:22 pm

‘but the highlighted statement is more-or-less an irrelevant comparison’

Which is why some of us love reading this web site, actually – very few places on the web are so reliable in making such entertainingly irrelevant comparisons in such an authorative style in an attempt to influence public debate.

83 Peter Schaeffer November 21, 2015 at 3:55 am

PA,

Some more numbers for anyone who cares about “facts”.

From “Property Crime” (FBI)

“Overview

In 2013, there were an estimated 8,632,512 property crime offenses in the nation. The 2-year trend showed that property crime declined 4.1 percent in 2013 when compared to the 2012 estimate. The 10-year trend showed that property crime offenses decreased 16.3 percent in 2013 when compared with the 2004 estimate.
In 2013, the rate of property crime was estimated at 2,730.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, a 4.8 percent decrease when compared with the 2012 estimated rate. The 2013 property crime rate was 10.2 percent less than the 2009 estimate and 22.3 percent less than the 2004 estimate. (See Tables 1 and 1A.)
Of all property crimes in 2013, larceny-theft accounted for 69.6 percent. Burglary accounted for 22.3 percent and motor vehicle theft for 8.1 percent. (Based on Table 1.)
Property crimes in 2013 resulted in losses estimated at $16.6 billion. (Based on Tables 1 and 23.)”

84 Jeff November 19, 2015 at 2:15 pm

To add to PD Shaw’s point, can’t an asset forfieture be used to cover monetary damages incurred under any violation of the law? Lawyers help us out.

85 PD Shaw November 19, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Certainly, a criminal plea or sentence can include a restitution order to the victims, and assets forfeited can be applied to restitution. I cannot tell whether the numbers referenced in this link, however whether they are before after restitution payments.

86 Joe Q. November 19, 2015 at 3:32 pm

New Yorker article on civil forfeiture: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/08/12/taken

“In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on a par with “probable cause” is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime, or even be accused of one. Unlike criminal forfeiture, which requires that a person be convicted of an offense before his or her property is confiscated, civil forfeiture amounts to a lawsuit filed directly against a possession, regardless of its owner’s guilt or innocence.”

87 Hazel Meade November 19, 2015 at 4:38 pm

I’m amazed by the number of people who only seem to be discovering this issue just now, after OVER THIRTY YEARS of libertarians complaining about it.

88 c November 19, 2015 at 10:02 pm

Check the bolded passage at the top of the page. It’s been a problem, and to analogize, the pigs are starting to realize the depth of the trough.

89 Jim Foley November 19, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Here’s a story about a motel owner who reported that one of his guests had been selling drugs, so the feds seized the motel. The seizure was reversed three years later.

http://www.wbur.org/2013/01/24/tewksbury-motel-foreclosure

90 Dan Weber November 19, 2015 at 4:01 pm

The scorpion can’t help it. It’s his nature.

91 Joe Q. November 19, 2015 at 4:07 pm

According to the article (from my quick reading) the motel owner didn’t report it — he had no idea. But it illustrates the point I quoted above, that civil asset forfeiture amounts to legal action against an inanimate object.

92 Max November 19, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Have you counted the $4 trillion in tax theft?

93 TallDave November 19, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Not surprising at all, The median robbery is likely a lot less lucrative than the average asset seizure, and much riskier.

94 spencer November 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm

By comparing seizures to stolen property you are comparing crabs and apples, and as my high school algebra teacher took great pleasure in saying, when you add crabs and apples you do not get crap apples.

A major source of the criminals income comes from buying and selling drugs — not stealing.

So you should be comparing the size of the seizures to the size of the illegal drug trade, not robbery.

I do not know off the top of my head, but I bet the size of the illegal drug trade is a very large multiple of the size of robberies.

95 Cliff November 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Okay, like everyone else you seem to find it completely unremarkable that the government steals more property than criminals. I guess that’s totally uninteresting and to be expected? Drug crimes don’t involve theft.

96 prior_approval November 19, 2015 at 11:30 pm

‘Okay, like everyone else you seem to find it completely unremarkable that the government steals more property than criminals.’

Except this is not true, as noted above. Loyal readers need to pay more attention to what is actually written here, to enjoy the underlying satirical entertainment this web site provides – burglaries are merely a subset when looking at stolen property. For example, auto theft is not burglary – ‘In 2014 the value of stolen motor vehicles was more than $4.5 billion. The average value of a motor vehicle reported stolen in 2014 was $6,537. The nationwide rate of motor vehicle thefts was 216.2 per 100,000 people.’ http://www.rmiia.org/auto/auto_theft/statistics.asp

97 Cliff November 20, 2015 at 12:51 am

I noted this myself above but even when you include auto theft and robberies you are still about even. I am sure fraud takes criminals over the top FOR NOW but next year no doubt the government will take the lead. Is this really an argument we even want to be having?

98 Hazel Meade November 19, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Another kind of moral hazard.
After the 2008 financial crisis, police departments started relying increasingly on asset forfeiture to bring in revenue.
Then after the crisis was passed they discovered that nobody had really noticed or complained much, so they kept doing it, and started doing it even more.
Moreover, I suspect that the sight of the federal government bailing out big-time con artists in the banking industry made them more cynical about ethical behavior with respect to asset forfeiture. In an environment where politics is just fighting over the spoils, there is less reason to think there is anything unjust about taking what you can get.

99 Art Deco November 19, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Hazel, the budgets of the New York City police department and corrections department sum to just north of $10 bn and comprehend about 4% of the population in law enforcement in the United States. He’s given you a figure of $12 bn. So, how much is unjustly seized, how much is routed to dedicated funds which just support law enforcement, and how much does that residual figure contribute to global law enforcement budgets (hint: answer is diddly/squat).

And, yeah, it’s a sure thing police departments are motivated by the most tendentious opinions of libertarians about the financial system.

100 Don't Think Twice November 19, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Who is claiming police departments are motivated by “opinions of libertarians about the financial system”? The claim is that they are motivated by money. Do you disagree?

One of the most important intellectual contributions of the modern conservative movement is to resurrect the idea that man is fallen (or imperfect and fallible if you want to avoid the religious symbolism). Why is it that conservatives are so quick to forget this when they consider law enforcement officers?

Oh yea, because most of “politics” is really just justifying your support for your clan.

101 Art Deco November 20, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Who is claiming police departments are motivated by “opinions of libertarians about the financial system”?

I dunno, maybe the person who imputed to police officers the following ” the sight of the federal government bailing out big-time con artists in the banking industry made them more cynical about ethical behavior with respect to asset forfeiture.”

Why is it that conservatives are so quick to forget this when they consider law enforcement officers? –

They forget nothing, Spicoli. They just have a passable idea of who you generally trust and who you do not. They haven’t got it in for cops and you do.

102 Ricardo November 20, 2015 at 1:34 am

Hazel may have overstated the case but the evidence that financial considerations play a role in asset forfeiture cases seems pretty clear. From the article posted by Jim Foley in the thread: “The DEA has an agent who testified his job is to seek out targets for forfeiture by watching television news and reading newspapers. When he finds a property where drug crimes occur he goes to the Registry of Deeds. Finding the Motel Caswell had no mortgage and was worth almost $1.5 million, the DEA teamed up with the Tewksbury Police, who were offered 80 percent of the taking, the agent testified.”

This is the moral equivalent of ambulance chasing except it is done by law enforcement. Instead of prioritizing threats to public safety or the biggest public nuisances, the priority in this case seemed to go toward seizing high-value, unencumbered property with little or no consideration given to the guilt or innocence of the owner.

103 Art Deco November 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Since I haven’t read the trial transcript, who did what to whom is not altogether clear to me. That’s a newspaper paraphrase. It suggests that:

1. The DEA identified the motel as a target from public information sources.

2. The DEA offered the proceeds to the police department.

Problem: unless the police department is financed out of some sort of locked-up dedicated fund, the town council, not the police department, will decide what is done with the funds.

Other articles on this case offer the following:

1. The proprietor was not contacted by the local police, or the DEA. It was the U.S. Attorney’s office who sent him a letter notifiying him that he would be a defendant in a civil forfeiture case.

2. The U.S. Attorney’s office brought the case and took it all the way to trial. Per news accounts, the judge slapped the prosecutor hard, ruling that 8 of the 15 cases they brought as demonstrations of the Hotel’s status as a crime hub did not meet requirements set out in the statute to constitute a trigger for a civil forfeiture case. To my mind, that’s pretty damning right there, but this is not my trade. She ruled regarding the other 7 cases that the owner’s complicity and knowledge were not demonstrated. She also ruled that they had ignored similar crimes occuring with similar frequency at nearby businesses.

Now, if I understand how law enforcement works, the police investigate crimes, not prosecutors, in order to protect prosecutors from being called as witnesses. Prosecutors put police work in front of grand juries or magistrates in preliminary hearings. However, this was a civil forfeiture case, not a criminal case. It looks like the U.S. Attorney’s office was half-assed in building a factual case and misconstrued the law to boot. Arrogant prosecutors who argue an indefensible case into the ground are a familiar character in true crime literature. I suppose it’s very possible the DEA was up to its neck in this, but the cursory accounts in the press make it appear as if the DEA flagged a target and then the U.S. Attorney took it from there.

104 Lucifer November 19, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Just as every cop is a criminal. And all the sinners saints.

105 cthulhu November 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

And our police departments and prosecutors are definitely in need of some restraint.

106 Bill November 19, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Not nearly enough. Or too much.

You need to know the size of the underground illegal economy. And that is really not the question: the only question should be whether the property was seized illegally or otherwise denied due process of law.

107 Cliff November 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Sorry, how would knowing the size of the underground illegal economy tell you whether there was too much civil asset forfeiture? By the way $1 is too much.

108 Mike D November 19, 2015 at 5:25 pm

GDP is about 17 trillion dollars.
I’ve seen estimates that the total informal economy in the US is 7.5% of GDP.
If 1/5 of that is from criminal activity, the criminal sector is $255 billion.

Let’s suppose the criminal sector is not particularly capital intensive. So it has a Capital/Output ratio of 1.5. So the criminal sector has a capital stock of $383 billion.

Seizure of $4.5 billion per year would mean law enforcement is only managing to confiscate 1.17% of the criminal capital stock per year.

That seems plausible to me. I’m actually impressed by how inefficient the confiscation is…

109 Harun November 19, 2015 at 5:41 pm

California will have more theft now that its been essentially legalized for under $500 (IIRC)

We already have grocery stores that do not attempt to stop theft.

110 Stephan November 19, 2015 at 6:07 pm

The problem is not the confiscation of the criminal capital stock, but that innocents are being targeted, with little recourse.
At least two reforms are needed:

1- The owner of the confiscated property must be charged with a crime. If there is no crime then why is the property confiscated?

2- the proceeds of the confiscation should go to a general fund not a police fund. If the police has an interest in the proceeds of the confiscation, it creates a conflict of interest as is well known

111 Mike D November 19, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Tyler asked if it could be true. It seems plausibly true to me.

112 Steve Sailer November 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm

This is a promising way to fight terrorism by clan-based cultures that have immigrated to the West. When the young jihadi goes off to collect his 72 virgins, the state can confiscate his extended family’s assets. That way, the elders will police their own youngers.

Sure, it violates Western traditions of individualism, but collective responsibility is the traditional method used outside the West to keep Muslim violence under control. Collective punishment is multicultural!

http://takimag.com/article/four_ways_to_save_europe_steve_sailer#axzz3ruFz0i7H

113 PD Shaw November 19, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Do jihadis have assets?

114 chuck martel November 19, 2015 at 9:19 pm

Great idea! The extended family of the jihadi will be penniless, meaning that all of them that are able, excluding the littlest children and the octogenarians, will be forced to turn to crime to survive. Then those can be arrested and incarcerated. Problem over, they’re all in jail at Guantanamo, with their kids.

115 Nathan W November 20, 2015 at 4:58 am

Problem solved, yeah.

116 Peter Schaeffer November 21, 2015 at 1:18 am

CM,

People with no assets typically work for a living rather than engaging in crime. At least a large majority do.

117 It's Over November 19, 2015 at 8:51 pm

That $13 billion number is pretty depressing. Even more depressing is that no one cares. The Art Decos of the world think the police and prosecutors need even more power, and on the other side, that number doesn’t make many lefties think twice about giving our benevolent government more power. I guess if the police don’t seize YOUR business or YOUR car or whatever, the $13 billion is really just a made up number that happens to someone else.

118 chuck martel November 19, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Current asset forfeiture makes anything George III did small time. Kleist’s story Michael Kohlhaus, taken from a true event, shows what eventually happens in this sort of situation. Can’t take place soon enough.

119 Art Deco November 19, 2015 at 9:45 pm

The Art Decos of the world think the police and prosecutors need even more power,

No, I think police and prosecutors need to be evaluated fairly and that police are generally on your side and the libertarian intelligentsia is not.

120 arb November 19, 2015 at 11:50 pm

You clearly don’t understand the audience. You and Steve Sailer are the only “defenders of the common man” around. And Steve is defending a group he isn’t a part of.

121 Art Deco November 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

So what?

122 Cliff November 20, 2015 at 12:54 am

Okay but “generally” on our side is not good enough. “Generally on our side” but 10% of police go around stealing to fill the coffers of the PD and buy SWAT toys so they can barge into your house and shoot your dog (if you’re lucky) is not acceptable.

123 Art Deco November 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Where’d you come up with the “10%” figure?

124 Cliff November 20, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Where’d you come up with the “generally” figure? “Generally” is consistent to me with 90%. It seems like an attempt to elide the very significant problem of police misconduct by waving it away as the work of some minority of police officers.

125 A B November 19, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Le Chatlier’s principle, as paraphrased by John Gall: “Systems tend to grow to oppose their proper function,” or, “The System always kicks back.”

126 prior_approval November 19, 2015 at 11:42 pm

‘Can this be true?’

No.

If only loyal readers could learn this simple trick to reading this web site – ‘Betteridge’s law of headlines is an adage that states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”‘ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_law_of_headlines

Especially since the quoted text says burglaries, and Prof. Cowen writes ‘robberies’ – two different categories (the first being a property crime, the other a violent one), according to this information –

‘Here are some highlights from Crime in the United States, 2014:

* There were an estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes (murder and non-negligent homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults) reported by law enforcement.

* Aggravated assaults accounted for 63.6 percent of the violent crimes reported, while robberies accounted for 28.0 percent, rape 7.2 percent, and murders 1.2 percent.

* There were an estimated 8,277,829 property crimes (burglaries, larceny-thefts, and motor vehicle thefts) reported by law enforcement. Financial losses suffered by victims of these crimes were calculated at approximately $14.3 billion.

* Larceny-theft accounted for 70.8 percent of all property crimes reported, burglary for 20.9 percent, and motor vehicle theft for 8.3 percent’ https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015/september/latest-crime-stats-released/latest-crime-stats-released

But let’s be honest – Prof. Cowen, like any GMU econ dept. faculty member (much less anyone in the exalted position of chairman and general director of a public policy institute), has more important things to do than actually keep up with what is really going on in the U.S.

127 Cliff November 20, 2015 at 12:56 am

So NEXT year the government will surpass the private sector as the biggest thief, what a victory for leftism?

128 cheesetrader November 20, 2015 at 8:30 am

Hey now – these things take time doncha know.

If only we had slavery to retard the growth of gov’t…

129 prior_approval November 20, 2015 at 10:56 am

You really need to read Peter Schaeffer’s comment underneath, posted two hours before your reply. As he notes, ‘From “Victims of Identity Theft, 2012” (BJS)

“Direct and indirect losses from identity theft totaled $24.7 billion in 2012.”’

I think it is safe to say that it will take considerably longer than a year for the government to catch up to private criminal enterprise – whether it be larceny, auto theft, or identity theft individually, much less all together.

130 Cliff November 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

“Indirect losses from identity theft” is like time people spent dealing with the issue. It’s not theft.

131 Peter Schaeffer November 20, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Cliff,

The methodology behind the identity theft number of hazy. That’s why I included other sources.

132 Peter Schaeffer November 20, 2015 at 10:15 am

TC,

“According to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals [emphasis added].”

From “U.S. Auto Theft Statistics”

“The FBI reports there were an estimated 699,594 motor vehicle thefts nationwide in 2013”

At a (very rough) $10,000 per car we are up to $7 billion per year.

From “Motor vehicle theft” (Wikipedia)

“Motor vehicle theft is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a car (or any other motor vehicle). Nationwide in the US in 2012, there were an estimated 721,053 motor vehicle thefts, or approximately 229.7 motor vehicles stolen for every 100,000 inhabitants. Property losses due to motor vehicle theft in 2012 were estimated at $4.3 billion.”

From “Victims of Identity Theft, 2012” (BJS)

“Direct and indirect losses from identity theft totaled $24.7 billion in 2012.”

From “FBI Releases 2012 Crime Statistics”

“Collectively, victims of property crimes (excluding arson) suffered losses calculated at $15.5 billion in 2012.”

133 Mike November 20, 2015 at 11:13 am

Another possible comparison is seizures to expenditures on policing. Two minutes of googling led me to this:
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/lpd13ppp.pdf
which has total police employees 2013 at 600,000 and average salaries around $55,000 for a total of $33 billion. Using this number we have asset seizures of $4.5 billion representing about 13% of policing costs.

But this is biased way upward as not all jurisdictions report personnel data and there are non-wage costs as well. Perhaps the seizures represent ~5% of policing costs. Which still seems like a lot.

134 Observing November 20, 2015 at 11:38 am

The original post makes an inapt comparison. The lion’s share of forfeiture proceeds comes from a few huge judgements each year, and those judgments stem from major fraud cases — like Medicare and government contracting frauds. For the comparison to make sense, you’d have to compare the forfeiture total to the amount of fraud in the economy. But there’s reason to think that most frauds are undetected or unreported.

135 mfk November 20, 2015 at 12:03 pm

It could be true, but burglary makes up a small percentage of criminal proceeds, so the bolded implication is nonsense.

136 Larry Kummer November 21, 2015 at 10:11 am

The comparison is bogus. The link goes to a website which says…

“2008, there were less than $1.5 billion in the combined asset forfeiture funds of the two agencies. By 2014, that number had tripled, to roughly $4.5 billion.”

That does not mean that $4.5b was taken in 2014. Sloppy reading by Martin Armstrong, as usual. Very odd that a GMU economics professor would consider Armstrong a reliable source.

This is typical right-wing nonsense.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: