The Growing Threat of the Police State

The Growing Threat of the Police State

Doug Casey, Jeff Thomas, and Nick Giambruno recently discussed a critical topic—the rise of a police state in the former “free” world.

Nick Giambruno: In my experience, the US has some of the most aggressive police in the world. I first noticed this when I started traveling many years ago.

I’ve also noticed that law-abiding citizens are more likely to encounter the police in the US. Both of these trends are accelerating.

What happened to “the boys in blue”—the friendly cop on the beat that everyone knew personally and trusted?

Doug Casey: The fact is that police forces throughout the US have been militarized. Every little town has a SWAT team, sometimes with armored personnel carriers. All of the Praetorian style agencies on the federal level—the FBI, CIA, NSA, and over a dozen others like them—have become very aggressive. Every single day in the US, there are scores of confiscations of people’s bank accounts, and dozens having their doors broken down in the wee hours of the night. The ethos in the US really seems to be changing right before our very eyes, and I think it’s quite disturbing. It’s a harbinger, I’m afraid, of what’s to come.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, this change has certainly been more prevalent in the US than elsewhere. And I don’t doubt that the black combat uniforms are intentional. Psychologically, combat gear is very threatening. It serves only one purpose—aggression. And blue is the color of officialdom, whilst black is the color of death. This, to me, was a very conscious change—maximum intimidation.

Nick Giambruno: Police training has also changed. The War on (some) Drugs and the so-called War on Terror have turbocharged police militarization. What are your thoughts?

Doug Casey: As a general rule, police are no longer trained as “peace officers.” They’re trained to be, and view themselves, as “law enforcement officers.” This is a very different thing. The police are a bigger threat to your property and your liberty, not to mention your life, than actual criminals. 

I started writing about the militarization of American police back in the 1990s, when it started happening in earnest. And it’s very disturbing, because the way a solider deals with the enemy is necessarily quite different from the way the police are supposed to deal with citizens.

The US has these numerous continuing wars around the world, so they wind up with lots of spare military equipment. And what to do with it? They bring it home and give it to the police because they think it might be helpful. And then, driving APCs and wearing body armor, the police get the wrong idea.

Furthermore, all the military vets—many of whom have extra Y chromosomes, as do most police generally—like the idea of wearing a uniform and like the idea of carrying a gun and giving and taking orders. They’re preferred hires for police forces. But they shouldn’t be, because you inevitably pick up bad habits, and inappropriate skills, hanging out in a war zone.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, this is very clear. Not long ago, I saw a training video where recruits were lined up, being drilled—punching their fists in the air, shouting in unison, “I have the power! I have the power,” over and over. This is the antithesis of the helpful neighborhood cop. It’s unquestionably Gestapo training and it’s borne out on the street. Police in the US, especially younger, recently-trained police, see the public as a threatening enemy and behave accordingly.

Nick Giambruno: So, what comes next?

Doug Casey: All these things compound upon the other. It’s a very bad trend. I see no reason why that trend is going to turn around. In fact, I expect it to accelerate, especially as the economy turns downhill and people become more restless and the Deep State feels that the plebs have to be kept under control. So, yeah, it’s a trend that’s been accelerating for several decades. And it’s going to keep accelerating until some type of a crisis blows it all up.

Jeff Thomas: The US government has consciously created a police state. Historically, whenever governments have done this, it was because they planned increased controls that they thought might incite rebellion. So the police state is created in advance to demonstrate that opposition to greater controls would be futile. We can therefore surmise that the controls that are on the way in the US are likely to be far more oppressive than at present.

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Nick Giambruno: We’ve all travelled extensively. In fact, each of us currently lives abroad.

In your experience, do other countries have the same ultra-aggressive police?

Jeff Thomas: Certainly, every country now has riot police, but in many countries, they’re only trotted out in an emergency. I tend to rate countries based upon the ongoing presence of police in riot gear. The more prevalent they are, the less likely I am to want to spend a lot of time there. In the two countries where I spend most of my time, the cop on the beat doesn’t even wear a side arm.

Doug Casey: Here in Argentina, as blowback to the excesses of the military government 30 years back, the police and military are reviled or simply ignored by the public, relegated to a far more appropriate role as night watchmen. There is a very limited and nonthreatening police presence.

The average Argentine despises both the army and the police. This is a very good thing compared to, say, a country like Chile, where they actually love their army and police.

Jeff Thomas: Here’s an interesting point—I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Cuba over the years. This is a country that’s been characterized by the US government as oppressive in the extreme. But, even back in the early 90’s, I found the police there were, generally speaking, quite peaceable and even helpful. They carried pistols, but they could be talked to like anyone else. That’s still true today. It’s possible that, even today, if you yelled, “Kill Raul,” you might be escorted off to the hoosegow, but otherwise, you feel safe around the police. I can’t say the same about New York, Paris, or London. There, you feel… unease in the presence of police.

Nick Giambruno: The US has many vague, overly broad laws criminalizing mundane activities. It’s impossible for anyone to comply 100% of the time.

Many people think only major crimes like robbery and murder are felonies. But that isn’t true. Politicians have criminalized many ordinary activities through an ever-expanding mountain of laws and regulations.

It’s not that hard to commit a felony. Many victimless “crimes” are felonies.

A study by civil liberty lawyer Harvey Silverglate found that the average American inadvertently commits three felonies a day.

Today, there are thousands of federal crimes. The number is constantly increasing.

It brings to mind the words of the great Roman historian Tacitus: “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

On that note, civil asset forfeiture is one of the most corrupting practices. It allows government agencies to grab private property without warning… then dare you to prove they’ve made a mistake.

What are your thoughts?

Doug Casey: You can be accused of almost anything by the government and have your assets seized without due process. Every year there are billions of dollars that are seized by various government entities, including local police departments, who get to keep a percentage of the proceeds, so this is a very corrupting thing.

People forget that when the US was founded there were only three federal crimes, and they are listed in the Constitution: treason, counterfeiting, and piracy. Now it’s estimated there are over 5,000 federal crimes, and that number is constantly increasing. This is very disturbing. It’s becoming Kafkaesque.

All the repressive aspects of government—civil forfeitures are just one—have been growing and compounding for years. It’s not a conspiracy; it’s the natural progression of all living organisms. They all want to grow, exert more control on their environments, and become more powerful. The problem is that government has unusual powers, and no longer seems to have many limits. So you can expect this trend to accelerate.

I saw the other day the government steals more from the American people through confiscations than is lost outright to robberies and muggings. It’s been reported that in 2015 civil forfeitures exceeded the amount stolen by all robbers. It’s quite amazing and disturbing.

Whenever a police department confiscates things under these laws, they get to keep some percentage. It varies but can be 10, 20, 30, 50 percent of what's confiscated, and they love it because the money goes to the local police department in question. They can use it for buying fun cop toys, or for buying further educational benefits, or whatever, for themselves. So, they're profiting from this stuff as directly as the criminals do that steal things from citizens. It's a total disaster.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, the US police now have the legal authority to become the modern version of the highwayman of old. But, today, it’s done with the assistance of a badge. Any authority can seize all your possessions, including the contents of your bank account, and simply absorb the proceeds into the department—legally. Although it can theoretically be contested, no one who’s just had all his money confiscated is going to be able to hire a lawyer. And this is no small-time scam. The take nationwide for civil asset forfeiture annually exceeds the total amount taken in burglaries by badgeless criminals.

Nick Giambruno: That brings us to the big question. Where will things go from here?

I doubt the police will tone down their current policies and practices. So, what will the police state look like in a few years?

Doug Casey: As I said earlier, the trend is accelerating. And the entire country is now polarized. Even more than it was in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It’s not just a difference of opinion; it’s a clash of worldviews. It’s increasingly impossible, even dangerous, for leftists and rightists, Trumpers and anti-Trumpers, to discuss politics. It’s—as hard as it may be to confront—the kind of atmosphere that precedes a civil war. I expect lots of violent confrontations between antagonistic groups in the years to come. The State will necessarily increase its police powers to deal with the problem. Perhaps they’ll even set up some new agency to deal with civil disturbances. And—like the TSA and every other national agency—it will become part of the firmament. And will find reasons for getting more money and power.

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Jeff Thomas: I believe that, at some point, they’ll stage a series of false-flag events in which multiple killings will take place in public places in several states at roughly the same time. Maybe a church social in North Carolina, a daycare center in Chicago, a hospital in Nevada, and so on. The theme would be ordinary gathering places that everyone takes for granted as being safe. The attacks would be blamed on “domestic terrorists” and would be diverse enough to convince Americans that nowhere is safe from domestic terrorism and the government “has to do something.” After that, authorities will take action nationwide “to protect the public.” They’ll be above the law, and invasions will be considered unfortunate but necessary by the populace. It will be introduced as a “temporary emergency measure” but will become permanent. The US will be the leader in this policy, but the trend will be echoed in the EU and possibly elsewhere.

Nick Giambruno: Of course, someone living in the US or EU should plan to leave before that happens.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, that word, “before,” is the key word—one that many, many people overlook. Countless people have said, “Well, if it gets really bad, I’ll leave my home country for greener pastures.” Historically, this has proven to be a grave mistake. Once conditions are getting really serious, it often becomes illegal to exit without written permission. Additionally, if an exodus does begin, those countries that previously accepted expatriates suddenly pull in the welcome mat and lock the immigration doors. The time to implement an exit plan is prior to the implementation of intolerable controls. As to the US, that warning bell has already been rung.

Doug Casey: The most important first step is to get out of the danger zone.

Let's list the steps, in order of importance.

  1. Establish a financial account in a second country and transfer assets to it, immediately.

  2. Purchase a crib in a suitable third country, somewhere you might enjoy whether in good times or bad.

  3. Get moving toward an alternative citizenship in a fourth country; you don't want to be stuck geographically, and you don't want to live like a refugee.

  4. Keep your eyes open for business and investment opportunities in those four countries, plus the other 225; you'll greatly increase your perspective and your chances of success.

Where to go? In general, I would suggest you look most seriously at countries whose governments aren't overly cozy with the US and whose people maintain an inbred suspicion of the police, the military, and the fiscal authorities. These criteria tilt the scales against past favorites like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK.

And one more piece of sage advice: stop thinking like your neighbors, which is to say stop thinking and acting like a serf. Most people—although they can be perfectly affable and even seem sensible—have the attitudes of medieval peasants that objected to going further than a day's round-trip from their hut, for fear the stories of dragons that live over the hill might be true. 

I'm not saying that you'll make your fortune and find happiness by venturing out. But you'll greatly increase your odds of doing so, greatly increase your security, and, I suspect, have a much more interesting time.

Let me end by reminding you what Rick Blaine, Bogart's character in Casablanca, had to say in only a slightly different context. Appropriately, Rick was an early but also an archetypical international man. Let's just imagine he's talking about what will happen if you don't effectively internationalize yourself, now. He said: “You may not regret it now, but you'll regret it soon. And for the rest of your life.”

Editor’s Note: Setting up your personal escape route may sound like an intimidating process. But it doesn’t have to be. Doug Casey takes you through the steps and extraordinary benefits in his exclusive special report, Getting Out of Dodge. Click here to download your complimentary PDF 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.

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