A “Zero Tolerance” Police State

A “Zero Tolerance” Police State

I’ve almost become numb to horrendous videos like these...

It seems like a new shocking police abuse video sweeps the nation almost every week. These viral videos help bring a small dose of accountability to government employees. And they don’t like it one bit.

The unjustified violence isn’t what really upsets them. They’re upset because they can’t operate with near total impunity anymore. The Internet and proliferation of smartphones have made it much harder for the government and mainstream media to sweep inconvenient incidents under the rug.

This is why some states, most notoriously Florida, are abusing outdated eavesdropping laws to harass people who attempt to film the police.

It’s all part of a long trend. The government will always try to shield itself from the fallout from its behavior. Another favorite tactic is to simply declare troublesome information “classified” or to withhold it because of “national security,” a vague and misused term.

It’s an upside down situation. The government can monitor almost any aspect of the average citizen’s life whenever it wants. But it’s difficult to impossible for the average citizen to monitor the government. In a free society, the opposite would be true.

The Camera Is the New Gun

Trying to prohibit people from recording cops is a desperate move. And I don’t think it’s practical.

Nearly everyone has a phone that can record a decent quality video, and it only takes seconds to upload a video onto the Internet. Once it’s there, it’s hard for anyone to make it disappear.

Even a police incident in a small town no one has ever heard of can become a national news phenomenon. This has made it harder for the government and mainstream media to shape the narrative.

It’s also why Judge Andrew Napolitano calls the camera the new gun.

This scenario played out recently at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina. A teenage girl refused to put her cell phone away. The teacher asked her to leave the classroom. She didn’t. So the school called in its resource officer.

“Resource officer” strikes me as a strange term. As far as I can tell, it’s just a police officer stationed at a school. Why not call it what it is?

Some bureaucrat likely invented the term to sanitize a situation that reasonable people find disturbing. It’s unnerving to think about heavily armed government employees interacting with your children every day they go to school (which looks more and more like a prison). “Resource officer” certainly makes the whole thing sound friendlier.

But back to the incident in South Carolina…

The resource officer showed up and asked the student to leave. When she refused, he wrapped his arm around her neck in a headlock. The struggle tipped over the girl’s desk and she fell to the ground. Then the officer dragged the girl and threw her across the classroom.

It’s a barbaric and unjustifiable way to treat a young girl. But it’s hardly unique or surprising.

In my experience, U.S. police are much more aggressive than police in the rest of the world. I noticed it when I started traveling many years ago. I’ve also noticed that the average citizen is more likely to run into the police in the U.S. Both of these trends are accelerating.

This is especially true for young people in public schools. No other country comes close to having the same level of police presence in schools. And no other country criminalizes as many everyday activities.

According to the LA Times there are now over 14,000 resource officers in schools across the U.S.

The explosion in the number of cops embedded in schools started in the 1990s. That’s when “zero tolerance” madness really started to sweep the country. It was a side effect of the ludicrous War on Some Drugs.

At first, these school cops only got involved with things like illegal drugs, gangs, and serious violence. Over time, there’s been a predictable mission creep. Schools were tempted to use the officers in more and more situations. At this point, they’re effectively enforcing school rules. Horseplay and disobeying the teacher now lead to arrests and criminal records rather than in-school discipline, like detention.

South Carolina has a “disturbing school” law, which makes it a crime "to interfere with or to disturb in any way or in any place the students or teachers of any school or college in this state.” The government can fine up to $1,000 or jail for 90 days anyone who breaks the law.

The law’s vague and subjective wording effectively allows the police to harass students whenever the school administration asks…or whenever they want to. This is the law that gave the high school in South Carolina the pretext to call its resource officer to deal (violently, if needed) with the girl who wouldn’t put away her cell phone.

Seven other states already have similar laws. I’d bet the ongoing “zero tolerance” psychosis helps push many more through.

A Harbinger of Things to Come

Unfortunately, most people don’t even question whether there should be a resource officer in each and every school in the first place. Most passively accept it as an undisputed necessity. If they want change, they usually want a more aggressive police presence in schools.

I doubt the attitudes and mindsets that have fostered this situation will change for the better anytime soon. I expect the police state trend will only accelerate in the U.S.

How will the government pay for all this police activity? I’d bet civil asset forfeitures will continue to play a big role.

Dozens of government agencies now have the power to lock up all your U.S. bank accounts, your U.S. brokerage accounts, and even your home. They only need the flimsiest hint that something might be wrong.

It doesn’t matter if the underlying allegation is about taxes, drugs, food safety, the environment, or something else. It doesn’t even take a real allegation to make it happen. A single government employee’s suspicion or ill will is enough to push the bureaucratic launch button and start your nightmare.

They act without warning, and they can strip away all of your assets without waiting for a hearing, a trial, or any other token of due process.

If it’s in the U.S., it’s theirs, whenever they say it is.

Yes, after they strike, you can go to court to get your property back. But how will you hire a lawyer if they’ve frozen your bank account? And how will you pay your bills while the legal process grinds on?

Forget what you learned in civics class. Sometimes a government agency just wants your property.

As the Institute for Justice has stated, “Under modern civil forfeiture laws…filling law enforcement’s coffers is often the primary purpose of the seizure.”

The government can easily pick up any assets you keep in the U.S.

The Ultimate Protection from an Out of Control Government

If you’re alarmed by the growing threat from your own government to your personal freedom and financial health, I don’t blame you.

You’ve seen the crowded parade of new laws, taxes, and regulations. Many more are in the works.

In fact, as financial resources shrink and government deficits rise, I’m afraid the grab for money will become more desperate. Governments will go beyond taxation and reach into checking, savings, and even Grandma’s retirement account for help.

Events around the world show cash strapped governments are more than willing to use capital controls, income tax hikes (to rates as high as 75% in France), debt monetization, nationalization of private pensions, bail-ins and bank deposit confiscations, and other ways to grab your money.

No matter how safe your government says your money is, how comfortable can you really be if it’s all in one country?

Most people understand that it’s foolish to keep all their eggs in one basket. But they don’t apply the principle all that well. Portfolio diversification isn’t just about investing in multiple stocks or in multiple asset classes. Real diversification - the kind that keeps you safe - means holding assets in multiple countries so you’re not overexposed to economic and political risks in any one of them.

Doug Casey, founder and chairman of Casey Research, has said pointedly that spreading your political risk beyond a single jurisdiction is the single most important thing he can recommend today.

In short, international diversification is prudent because it frees you from absolute dependence on any one country. Achieve that independence, and events or policies in any country can never dominate your life.

Wealthy families have been doing this for centuries. Today, with modern communications, international diversification is within everyone’s reach. You don’t even have to leave your living room to do it.

A big part of this strategy is to place some of your savings outside the immediate reach of the thieving bureaucrats in your home country. Setting up a foreign bank account is a convenient way to do just that.

That way, no one can easily confiscate, freeze, or devalue all of your savings with a couple of taps on the keyboard. If the government imposes capital controls, a foreign bank account means you have access to some of your money when you need it the most.

The right foreign bank account is beyond the reach of no-warning seizures by any of the many agencies that grab property first and then dare you to prove they’ve made a mistake. If you ever find yourself in a wrestling match with a government agency or a frivolous lawsuit, you’ll have the resources you would desperately need.

Despite what you may hear, setting up a foreign bank account is completely legal. It’s simply a way to put your liquid savings in sound, well capitalized institutions, where they’re best protected.

Going Global 2015 can show you how to get started. This hardcover book contains our comprehensive guide to the best international banking jurisdictions. It also includes a list of the rare international banks that still accept American clients and allow them to open accounts remotely with small minimum balances.

These strategies are not just for the ultra-rich. In Going Global, New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team outline how just about anyone can set up an international bank account...right from their living room.

This get-it-done manual normally retails for $99. But we think this book is so important, especially right now, that we’ve arranged for U.S. residents to get a hard copy mailed directly to their doorsteps practically free. We only ask that you pay $4.95 to cover shipping costs. International residents will only receive the e-book. Click here to secure your copy now.

Nick Giambruno

Nick is Doug Casey’s globetrotting companion and is the Senior Editor of Casey Research’s International Man. He writes about economics, offshore banking, second passports, value investing in crisis markets, geopolitics, and surviving a financial collapse, among other topics. He is a CFA charterholder. In short, Nick’s work helps people make the most of their personal freedom and financial opportunity around the world. To get his free video crash course, click here.

Tags: police state,