Bennis v. Michigan and the Awful Advance of Civil Asset Forfeiture

by Don Boudreaux on May 21, 2011

in Civil Asset Forfeiture

Fifteen years ago, Adam Pritchard (now a law professor at the University of Michigan) and I had the following op-ed published in the March 15, 1996, edition of the Washington Times:

Would you like to forfeit your house?

March 15, 1996
Section: A COMMENTARY OP-ED
Edition: 2
Page: A21
Byline: By Donald J. Boudreaux and A.C. Pritchard

Imagine a guest with a marijuana cigarette secretly tucked in his pocket visits your house. The police storm in, seize the cigarette, and arrest your guest for drug possession. The police then announce that the government now owns your house.  “What?!” you wail, “I did nothing wrong. How can you take my house?”

You are told that civil-forfeiture law allows government to take property that harbored an “abatable nuisance” – illegal drugs, in this case. An officer explains that “Your house, not you, committed a wrong. To help stem drug trafficking, it must be seized. Your doubts about our ability to confiscate your property will be dispelled by reading the Supreme Court’s March 4th decision in Bennis vs. Michigan.”

Certain that such tyranny is impossible in America, you rush to read Bennis. Your heart sinks. Chief Justice Rehnquist explains that the Constitution permits Michigan to use civil forfeiture to strip Tina Bennis of her ownership of an automobile in which her husband John had a tryst with a prostitute. Civil forfeiture allows government to take property from someone without convicting that someone of a crime.

Everyone concedes that Mrs. Bennis was unaware that John used the car for illegal sex – for which he was convicted and fined $250. Still, according to the Court, Michigan violated neither the Due Process nor the Takings clauses of the Constitution by taking the innocent Mrs. Bennis’ property without as much as a “thankee, ma’am.” The court reasoned that the state’s confiscation and forfeiture of Mrs. Bennis’ car is constitutional because courts have long upheld civil-forfeiture seizures of some properties.  But these were historically confined to properties whose owners could not be tried in domestic courts. Not until Prohibition – long after the Constitution was adopted – did government generally wield civil forfeiture against people who could easily be criminally prosecuted.

Traditionally, no one can be punished unless first convicted. And government cannot convict someone – nor forfeit his property – who is denied an opportunity to defend himself before an impartial jury. But what to do about criminals outside of a domestic court’s jurisdiction? This was a pressing question for courts in cases involving smuggled goods as well as ships used for smuggling or piracy on the high seas. Owners of these properties were typically outside of domestic jurisdiction. Unless the law found a practical way to punish these foreign owners, smuggling and piracy would continue unabated.

Civil forfeiture solved the problem of unreachable wrongdoers. Under civil-forfeiture law, a court declared the property itself to be the wrongdoer. This legal fiction allowed the court to bypass the requirement of convicting the foreign wrongdoer before punishing him. Courts realized that the threat of civil forfeiture made foreign shipowners more reluctant to use their properties wrongfully. Civil forfeiture began here – and here is where it remained until after the Civil War. After the Civil War, civil forfeiture was expanded only far enough to reach property used to evade liquor taxation. Fact is, forfeiture of the properties of domestic citizens did not become widespread until Prohibition, when it was used to punish bootleggers smuggling alcohol.

When the Constitution was adopted, the common law did not condone using civil forfeiture against domestic citizens; therefore, use of civil forfeiture to seize the Bennis automobile is not permitted by the Constitution today. The Bennis criminals – Mr. Bennis and the prostitute – were within Michigan’s jurisdiction, and thus, outside the realm of civil forfeiture.

The Constitution does permit civil-forfeiture seizures of aircraft and similar properties belonging to the likes of Colombian drug lords. Such criminals are precisely the kinds of wrongdoers that civil forfeiture was meant to punish. But by upholding civil forfeiture in cases for which the government can easily prosecute suspected criminals in person – such as in the Bennis ruling – the court unleashes a government power unknown to America’s founding generation.

The Bennis decision frees government to impose huge costs on people never charged with criminal wrongdoing. Governments will respond to this novel constitutional loophole by devising ever more creative ways of preying upon innocent citizens as sources of revenue. A Supreme Court committed to respect legal precedent poorly serves judicial restraint and justice by so carelessly interpreting the tradition it seeks to protect.

Oliver Wendell Holmes observed that “hard cases make bad law.” For Tina Bennis, bad history makes hard law.

Donald J. Boudreaux is Visiting Olin Scholar in Law and Economics at the Cornell Law School. A.C. Pritchard practices law in the Washington office of Bickel & Brewer

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{ 59 comments }

vidyohs May 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Perhaps this is one of the reasons our “dear leaders” always say publicly that Americans have more freedoms than others.

Not that Americans are free, but our leashes are just a tad longer and the collar a tad less weighty.

Not good for me.

Craig A May 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm

So the government can take a car because 2 adults agreed to have sex in it?

Don Boudreaux May 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Yep – if that sex is proscribed by the legislature as “criminal.”

Anotherphil May 22, 2011 at 2:45 pm

This is where I get off the libertine crazy train. The fact is, the sarcastic quotes don’t change the fact that prostitution was illegal there, then. You may not have liked it, but it was (is) part of that jurisdiction’s criminal code and until changed by due process it is illegal without disparaging quotes.

Moreover, there’s plenty of good reasons to outlaw it. First, there’s the public health aspect of it, the second is that it is a predatory business that relies on ill-informed “employees” who are young, foolish and hardly free agents operating in a market economy. They have no idea of the physical and psychological effects of being used as a receptacle.

Legalizing prostitution hardly diminishes state power, it enhances it.
Instead of saying “never”-where “legal” the state licenses the prostitutes, their places of business, complete with the power of inspection and forfeiture. Liberty is having your privates examined as a condition of employment! Worse, it profits from it. A whole class of bureaucrats emerge with all their private inurement masquerading as a paternalistic public protectorate.

Interestingly, that puts the state in a bizarre position-recognizing, registering and regulating the marriage contract-while establishing the conditions that would allow the breach of its exclusivity provision and profiting from acts that potential imperil the innocent.

Legalized prostitution is hardly a victory for authentic liberty. Indeed, as we know from last year’s Senate race-Nevada is hardly a paradise for restrained government and authentic liberty (the real kind, not the moral anarchy that masks the advancing power of the state.) A quick review of public records shows just how beholden Harry and his statism was to vice.

Similarly, the Netherlands is also hardly a paradise of liberty, unless you want cannabis or a consort. There’s a reason why autocrats love to advocate loosened sexual restraints and other distractions from their advancing intrusions into life.

Nor am I sympathetic to the argument that its unstoppable. Many things are unstoppable, there’s no penal code that’s stopped murder-but we don’t embrace indifference based on the futility of eradication. (We’ll surely take such a step when the government allows our existence, so long as our infirmities aren’t a fiscal burden).

This forfeiture is wrong because it denies due process-and in this case seized the asset of the principal VICTIM. The abuse inherent in unrestrained power should be obvious, even to the insular philosopher kings of the SCOTUS.

Of course, the best way to assess how deep the sentiment for legalizing prostitution runs is to test it. Consider behavioral economics meeting Punk’d.

We’ll find some ivory tower academic or think tanker with a pretty young daughter, niece, in college and have her call dad, uncle to have dinner. Then she announces she’s not going/leaving college to pursue a career at the bunny ranch. When the test subject hugs the young lady and says “oh I’m so happy for and proud of you”, instead of melting into apoplexy-we’ll know that that individual really believes prostitution should be legal.

Actually I have a better idea: tell the ideologue test subject with an even younger daughter that the bunny ranch will be a participant in a high school “career day” fair.

There is much wrong with economics beyond overuse and misuse of mathematics. The pretense of knowledge is also present when one reduces every human activity to an simple act of commerce in attempt to subordinate all other considerations to the precepts of economics. Of course, I’m cynical and think its just an attempt to make economists into the court astrologers.

Methinks1776 May 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

What a very impressive army of straw men you’ve built!

First, there’s the public health aspect of it, the second is that it is a predatory business that relies on ill-informed “employees” who are young, foolish and hardly free agents operating in a market economy. They have no idea of the physical and psychological effects of being used as a receptacle.

First, screwing for free is also a public health problem. shall we police all sexual activity to protect the public health?

Second, you are right that a lot of prostitutes are hardly free because the criminalization of prostitution has given rise to criminal pimps. Second, what makes you think that these people do not know the risks involved. What makes you the expert on psychological effects on these people and what gives you the right to protect them against the consequences of the actions they choose to engage in as adults? For someone who makes a “pretense of knowledge” accusation at the end of his comment, this is quite hypocritical.

Legalizing prostitution hardly diminishes state power, it enhances it.

Only if you think it is the state’s right and duty to regulate the sex industry. I don’t. Nobody is suggesting the state regulate who you screw for free. Why should the state regulate who you screw for money?

Still….an odd objection for a guy who wants the state to involve itself in the regulation of sexual activity because it’s a public health issue. Don’t you think?

I understand the aversion that parents would feel if a child eagerly told them that he or she is seeking a career as a prostitute. Parents find many things their adult children do offensive or in poor taste. Perhaps we should make offending parents illegal. But of of the ones who aren’t offended by a prostitute child?

The pretense of knowledge is also present when one reduces every human activity to an simple act of commerce in attempt to subordinate all other considerations to the precepts of economics.

Then you can rest easy because nobody is reducing anything to acts of commerce for anybody. Decriminalizing prostitution doesn’t change societal attitudes toward the profession and and it is not a pretense of knowledge. It just means that sexual arrangements between consenting adults are not the business of the state. In other words, we don’t pretend to know what’s good for you.

Methinks1776 May 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Oh, I forgot…

The fact is, the sarcastic quotes don’t change the fact that prostitution was illegal there, then.

And what in Don’s quote disputes that. Don answered the question – if the illegal act was committed in the car, the po po can seize it. He’s just stating a fact, not making a statement about prostitution.

Anotherphil May 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm

“Parents find many things their adult children do offensive or in poor taste”

Getting a tongue piercing is offensive or in poor taste (that can be abandoned with little more damage than introspective bemusement of youthful indiscretion when maturity finally sets in, assuming it was done hygienically) Becoming a prostitute presents a series of catastrophic, irreversible personal psychological, reputational, health and career risks.

“Only if you think it is the state’s right and duty to regulate the sex industry. I don’t.”

Well, good luck with making that policy. Go to Nevada, see if you can get the state out of regulating hookers. Anywhere else, the only way you’ll get a “sex industry” (you just reduced this human activity to a simple act of commerce, despite your claim that nobody is attempting that) is by persuading the populace that it will be segregated from “decent society”. You already asserted that it isn’t widely accepted. The first time somebody opens a whorehouse in spitting distance of an elementary school -your argument about government not having any “right” to regulate the “sex industry” will whither in public contempt as politicians scheme to meet public outrage while ensuring there’s a thriving “industry” to offer protection from.

“you are right that a lot of prostitutes are hardly free because the criminalization of prostitution has given rise to criminal pimps.”

Yeah, because a noncriminal pimp will be a pillar of society and be the cover model for the next issue of Forbes 100 best employer who will be indifferent when a “ho” leaves, why they’ll probably start having exit interviews so they can improve their work environment after the girl’s quit to use the company scholarship program.

“I understand the aversion that parents would feel if a child eagerly told them that he or she is seeking a career as a prostitute.”

No you don’t. Most parents, especially fathers, even those who treat (ed) other men’s daughters’ virtue as a plaything would light themselves on fire to prevent their own daughter from falling into such a life. If you really understood this you wouldn’t even attempt to make such an assertion, because it only sells when you are trying to show that you are meeting the ideological purity test of radicals in echo chambers who’ve never dealt with the topic, except as an abstraction.

Methinks1776 May 22, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Becoming a prostitute presents a series of catastrophic, irreversible personal psychological, reputational, health and career risks.

So does stripping, appearing in porn films, cross-dressing, being a stunt-double – just to name a few. Who are you to decide for an adult what level of risk is acceptable to them?

Well, good luck with making that policy.

It does not follow that because there is a low probability of an industry existing without government continuously intervening that it should be illegal.

you just reduced this human activity to a simple act of commerce, despite your claim that nobody is attempting that

No, I didn’t. If two people want to make that human interaction a matter of mere commerce, they should be able to have that right. It already happens. You’ve heard of “gold diggers”, yes? Sugar daddies? What do you suppose that arrangement is?

No you don’t. Most parents, especially fathers, even those who treat (ed) other men’s daughters’ virtue as a plaything would light themselves on fire to prevent their own daughter from falling into such a life.

Wow. Daughter’s virtues? That’s so sexist I can hardly stand it. Does your son’s virtue not matter or do you just encourage him to bag as many chicks as he can lay his paws on (other men’s daughters)? What a stud. So, look, I’m not a man, but I can certainly understand the impulse to protect someone you love from stuff that’s none of your business.

In light of that, how would you feel if your adult daughter just became an unpaid slut? That’s totally legal, you know. Celebrated, even (I’m thinking “Sex and the City”). Maybe we should pass legislation requiring adult women to get permission from their fathers before they bed a man for any reason?

Anotherphil May 22, 2011 at 10:04 pm

That’s so sexist I can hardly stand it.

Ooh I’ve been called sexist.. well that settles it, just so glad I avoided being called racist. I guess I should just slink away because you called me “sexist” (even though we were talking about parent’s attitudes)

Idiot, the girls (yes girls, not women) that get involved in prostitution are often minors. Not having any direct knowledge of the issue, you wouldn’t know that.

But you keep telling yourself that depraved indifference is a liberal virtue.

Richard Stands May 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Are fraud, kidnapping, extortion, contributing to the delinquency of a minor inexorably tied the concept of an adult selling his or her sexual services to other consenting adults?

If so, why would that be the case?

If not, would it then be possible to retain the criminal status of those first four actions while legalizing the latter?

Methinks1776 May 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

Ooh I’ve been called sexist.. well that settles it, just so glad I avoided being called racist.

I did not call you sexist. What you said was sexist and calling me an idiot because you can’t cobble together a coherent argument is not convincing.

I confess I haven’t ever been a prostitute, so I haven’t direct knowledge. Have you?

You won’t be able to take cover behind your straw man. Nobody is advocating legalizing statutory rape, you foolish little man. I’m asking you what right you have to dictate how adults conduct their sex life and why you’re offended by one form of prostitution, but not another.

Tracy W May 26, 2011 at 7:37 am

Alternative scenario – daughter announces that she is converting to a religion drastically opposed to that of her parents. Parents are duly horrified that she is going to hell (by their lights).

Should the government make it illegal to reject the religion of your parents? Should said parents be barred from arguing for freedom of religion, no matter how much they value it on logical grounds?

kyle8 May 21, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Not only that, they can actually take the car away from a third party.

If I were President I would instruct the Justice Department to begin confiscations of cars and homes of lawmakers and judges who might be guilty of the very slightest infractions of regulations or traffic laws.

I will bet the problem would get fixed real flipping fast if that were to happen.

Richard Stands May 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Reminds me of the attempt to take Justice Souter’s Farm following Kelo.

Perhaps all legislation first should be tried in its most odious form against the legislators who champion it. If more government employees were hoisted on their own petards, the moral hazard of creating and enforcing abuses with impunity might diminish a bit.

Anotherphil May 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm

“I think he screwed up, but I don’t think he should be personally punished for it. It sets a bad precedent.”

I’ll think try that thought on my boss the next time I screw up at work.

Richard Stands May 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Indeed. Being personally punished for a sweepingly bad decision is just the inoculation one needs against future sweepingly bad decisions.

Anotherphil May 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm

If I were President I would instruct the Justice Department to begin confiscations of cars and homes of lawmakers and judges who might be guilty of the very slightest infractions of regulations or traffic laws.

Nice idea but Articles of Impeachment would be drafted the very next day. Theoretically, the branches of government should be in some opposition, but they close ranks against those who would apostatize against their doctrine of greater and greater state power.

Michigan Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and News May 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Very interesting article seeing I live in a medical marijuana state … so if I post and article about a dispensary and they sell to someone without a license and then it leads back to they found out about it through my website … could my host loose there server ? …. ignore the federal law part for now as that is another story ….

Methinks1776 May 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I feel sick.

Don Boudreaux May 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Sickening it is, my friend.

John Papola May 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I’m going keep this video and rub it in the face of every simpleton who points to the police as evidence that government serves the “public good”. There is no difference between government and the mafia.

Don Boudreaux May 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Indeed.

Hey John – let’s do a video together on Julian Simon’s insight that the human mind is the ultimate resource. :-)

Marcus May 21, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Two thumbs up!

John Papola May 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Don, I love that idea. There’s nothing more ridiculous than those who discuss our “resources” as some fixed stock. The last time I checked, people are creative beings.

Methinks1776 May 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm

You’re a prime example of that, John! Would love to see what you and Don come up with and what you and Russ will dream up next (hope?) :)

John Papola May 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Thank you, my friend. Brainstorming on new projects has already begun.

Gil May 22, 2011 at 1:05 am

Whose minds?

JBaldwin May 22, 2011 at 12:34 am

“The more private misfortunes there are the greater is the public good.” -Pangloss

vikingvista May 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Voltaire was a rare genius, wasn’t he?

Dan May 22, 2011 at 2:42 am

Oh, we are in trouble. I feel ill knowing my children or grandchildren will know the likes of an authoritarian regime in the US.

vikingvista May 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm

It seems the pattern here, is that your children and grandchildren will demand it.

Dan May 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Maybe not. It would seem as if there is quite the backlash to more govt authority. I believe I am younger than the regulars, here. And, for my part, I can say I have not witenessed as much fervor toward diminishing the role of govt.

Dan May 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm

As much fervor in the past, that is……………

vikingvista May 24, 2011 at 12:43 am

I don’t particularly enjoy treading on people’s hopes and dreams, but…

Oh hell. Your hopes will be crushed soon enough. Until then, dream on, my friend.

SaulOhio May 22, 2011 at 8:55 am

When I argue for free markets and deregulation, some idiots always tell me I should quit society and live as a hermit if I don’t like living by rules. I should ask then what they are going to do when they have their home or car taken from them by asset forfeiture.

vikingvista May 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Society is full of thieves, liars, murders, rapists, vandals, and pedophiles. You should ask your friends if that is why they choose to remain in society.

Marcus May 22, 2011 at 9:24 am

Free-markets are not about not having rules.

When I contract the painter to paint my house we agree on rules. My employer has rules. Even an amusement park as rules.

That’s a straw man argument used to distract from their real concern: their view that humans (other than themselves, of course) are bad and need to be ruled over.

Marcus May 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

My above comment was in reply to SaulOhio. I’m not sure why it doesn’t show up as a reply to his post.

vikingvista May 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm

And a fine comment it was, sir. Law not agreed to, is force without permission. It isn’t order out of chaos. It is tyranny out of order.

Nevada Doctor May 22, 2011 at 10:31 am

I would like to float the idea that we are living in the Second Civil War. We didn’t “win” WWII, because it never really ended. Much of our civil rights and personal property were appropriated to join this wealth and capital destroying nightmare, and we’ve never properly managed to get them back.

As predicted by Hayek, the worst that get on top have mandated countless central planning schemes, all of which mostly fail, and take the rightful place of what would have been provided by the free market.

As academics, I urge you to do some study on the ground, away from the ivory towers, and be amazed at just how oppressed and un-free a commoner really is in a big American city today.

vikingvista May 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

The failure of their schemes is their success.

Anotherphil May 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I think there’s a reason the government lavishes so much money on the academy. They are often-often knowingly-and sometimes unknowingly-the intellectual shock troops of statism.

Economiser May 22, 2011 at 10:45 am

It’s worth calling out that the great evil behind civil asset forfeiture is the flipping of the burden of proof. In a typical criminal case, the government must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Under most civil forfeiture laws, the government needs only probable cause to seize your assets, and to get them back, you must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the assets were NOT used in a crime. The owner is asked to prove a negative. As that Tennessee video showed, that leads to horribly perverse incentives.

PrometheeFeu May 22, 2011 at 10:50 am

The behavior of that police department is despicable. Citizens should organize so those police officers meet hostility and opprobrium wherever they go. It is unfortunate that nowadays, legislation has become the only norm which one is punished for violating. Those who violate commonly accepted ethical standards should be shunned and otherwise punished in a social non-violent manner.

Anotherphil May 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Citizens should organize so those police officers meet hostility and opprobrium wherever they go.

A fish rots from the head. I ask you are the police acting on their own or at the behest of the cartel known as the bar?

The problem with your idea is how its executed. Ignoring the cop at the dinner party is “opprobrium”, but not submitting politely to inquiry can easily become “resisting arrest” and “obstruction of justice”.

The greatest abuse, in terms of the number of those affected, of police power is the enforcement of traffic laws. The police routinely hide in an attempt to catch somebody. There’s no requirement that the excess speed be intentional or sustained-and the enforcement is focused on revenue raising interdiction rather than prevention.

Methinks1776 May 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I don’t remember how this came up, but I heard that you should never ever submit to inquiry. EVER. I later confirmed this with several lawyers. All the information you are required to supply is your name and address.

So, if you come home from the movies with your wife and there are cops surrounding the corpse of a guy shot by the guy they are handcuffing in your driveway (I assume you live in Compton, yes?:)), you do not help yourself by telling the cops you were at the movies and your daughter is at her friend Tina’s house. This is what I was told by several lawyers.

a long time ago, a cop I knew socially told me that it’s not worth their time to stop cars traveling less than ten miles over the posted speed limit. Also, for whatever reason, red cars are pulled over more often. I have never owned a red car or driven more than 9 miles over the speed limit. I’ve only ever been pulled over only once and that was because the cop thought I was a terrorist (he yelled at me, but let me go).

MWG May 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm

“I don’t remember how this came up, but I heard that you should never ever submit to inquiry. EVER. I later confirmed this with several lawyers. All the information you are required to supply is your name and address.”

You’re probably referring to these guys.

http://flexyourrights.org/

This is also a great lecture regarding the 5th amendment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

PrometheeFeu May 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm

The problem with the fish rotting from the head theory is that
1) The high level officials who determine policy are basically out of our reach.
2) Those officials can only do what their subordinates will be willing to do.

What I was thinking is refusing them service at your store. Mailing their families and friends information about what they are doing. Making it a point to deny them any assistance they are not entitled to by law. Basically, doing everything you can to ensure their life is unpleasant without breaking the law.

muirgeo May 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Yes this is concerning but a lot more people HAVE forfeited their house and savings thanks to the banking scams. We are talking umbers closer to 1000 or 10,000 times more people losing their homes from banking fraud compared to the number that loose them from asset forfeiture. If anything we should be re-directing our government to seize the banks assets and not homeowners.

The sense of outrage and perspective are as always misplaced here.

Methinks1776 May 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm

This is hodge podge of ridiculous crap is what I will repeat to you when your junkyard is confiscated by the po po because your daughters were smoking pot in their bedrooms.

skh.pcola May 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Muirgeo, you’d have a point if the original post was directed towards housing forfeitures. But, as usual, you insert yourself into a conversation using straw men and babble. Try to stay on topic.

Anotherphil May 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I rather imagine you are something of an expert on misplaced outrage.

John V May 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Whatever, muirgeo. Talk about misplaced outrage.

Fact is, this thread is about asset forfeiture. So, your little rant is off-topic and basically all you could do to find disagreement because you probably have no quarrel with the topic at hand. Pathetic.

Secondly, Don and Russ have made plenty of threads about housing bubble and all here have expressed a good amount outrage about it. Problem for you is that you didn’t like the anatomy or criticism directed at market perversions and bad incentive structure.

Chucklehead May 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm

“a lot more people HAVE forfeited their house and savings thanks to the banking scams.”
It is not “their house” until it is paid for. Just like a car, you need clear title before something is “yours.”

brotio May 22, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Good point, but I’d point out that since you must pay property taxes to keep your house, it’s never yours.

SheetWise May 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

What great news for the State! If you can confiscate property simply because it was illegally used by a sex worker — it should be no time at all before they own the Hyatt and Hilton chain. I would guess about a week, if they get right on it. Ritz-Carton the next week, they’re a little more private and discreet — might take more time. After they’ve cherry picked the best properties, they can go after the low hanging fruit — Holiday Inn, Best Western, limousines, Motel 6, and other easy pickings.

They do intend to apply these laws evenly, don’t you think?

Dan May 22, 2011 at 8:49 pm

only to the little guys.

Methinks1776 May 22, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I believe Dan is right. Crony property is off limits.

Dan May 23, 2011 at 12:41 am

The big guys pay tribute regularly and politically connected folks have some controls over the large businesses. The little guys still free to publicly rebuke and outright refuse the officials demands of ‘respect’.

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