Today’s meme is a variation on a theme of giving your guns up “one bullet at a time.” If you are curious as to why there are people who feel this way, I’d suggest you’d read “Serious Self-Defense,” “A Recent History of the Libertarian Position on Self-Defense,” & “Death by Government.”
“The bad news is, most people are never going to consider what I’ve just proposed. Most people are just going to keep on freaking out in the streets, screaming about race, hurting innocent people, and demanding a non-existent ‘government’ steal more money from all of us, thereby exacerbating the problem. They prefer martyrs over solutions, hysteria over reason, politics over philosophy, ‘free stuff’ over economics, and violence over peace. So don’t sit around waiting for democracy to solve this, because that’s never going to happen. The majority is screwed. Instead, get used to the idea that somebody, somewhere, is going to have to do something, to stop this from happening.”
– Chris Cantwell
Today’s meme is a satirical jab at the government approved Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. If you want to know why I oppose electoral voting, I suggest you read “Some Thoughts on the ‘Suffragettes’ and the Civil Rights Movement,” & “My Voter Registration Cancellation Documents.” Attribution for the original picture belongs to Chris Cantwell.
The following is a set of proverbs within a frame story. If you haven’t yet read either, “The Parable of the Mugger’s Sandwich,” or “An Allegory of the Freedom Train,” then please do so before reading the concluding installment to this fictional trilogy.
Penelope and Charlie! Are you two ready for tonight’s story? Oh, good, I’m glad. I think you’ll enjoy this one, since you both worked so hard on your lessons today. I know your mother wanted to spend some alone time with your father, and quite frankly, I could use the change of pace from the life extension conference I attended last week where I gave the keynote address about the viability of total organ regeneration, but I doubt such a talk would interest you unless you were a gray haired old scientist like me.
Settle down, settle down…if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you two were the most rambunctious pair of fraternal twins in all of Appalachia! Despite the fact that I’m a hale and hearty man of sixty-two does not therefore mean I am a limitless source of energy, like the geothermal conductor your parents use to heat this house. Speaking of which, I’d like to light this musty old fireplace here in the den to try and set the mood, for while this tale might sound like ancient history, it’s actually quite a good adventure story, or at least I think so.
You have to remember that it was a very different time, long ago. There were criminals who murdered, enslaved, and even stole from the people on a regular basis. Although some of these murderers, slavers, and thieves would be punished, the most successful of them were confidence artists who tricked the people into giving up their own personal responsibility in return for a promise of protection against the supposed evils of the world. What the people got instead were muggers bribing victims with sandwiches .
A great deal of time passed, and eventually some people became quite fed up with this horrible arrangement, so they attempted to escape it as best as they could. Even though it seemed as if this could work alone, what they soon discovered was that most of the freedom train’s passengers had condoned the slaughter of those who had wanted to live without rulers. And with that betrayal, the cycle of oppression began again.
Not too long after, despotism reemerged with a vengeance, but this time with the capability of literally destroying all life on earth many times over. Prisons became overcrowded, indebtedness skyrocketed, and mad scientists implemented their eugenics agenda. The people had become equally enslaved, much to the delight of the “social justice” warriors.
Into this sorry state of affairs came into being, what eventually became known as a set of proverbs detailing the rise of humanity into our current age. These proverbs of the five boxes (originally, three boxes) describe how our ancestors tried every peaceful solution, conceivable to the mind of man, in reigning in the tyrannical impulses dormant within the lowest depths of the human psyche. Telling these proverbs to our children is a way for us to honour our heritage of hard-won liberty.
You must also understand, that within each of these proverbs, there are hostile factions who are deeply opposed to each other. Statists, my dear grandchildren, are those criminals and their sycophants who worship the false god called, “government,” which, according to their belief system, bestows upon a select few the superhuman ability to be exempt from common morality; for example, their murders were called “wars,” their kidnappings were called “jailing,” and their stealing was called “taxation.” Reformists were those well-meaning but naïve souls who incorrectly believed that if they were to strike compromises and deals with the statists, then freedom could flourish, but alas, all of their political projects ended in notorious disasters, time and time again. Lastly, there were the restorers, or restorationists, who through trial and tribulation, were thankfully successful in dismantling the most dangerous superstition to ever plague the human condition.
Having laid out the situation of that time so long ago, let’s proceed with the first proverb, shall we?
The Ballot Box
During the Age of Tribulation, our ancestors struggled against the trickiest forms of statism. One of these arrangements was where most of the people would, from time to time, choose which of the muggers would hand out what kinds of sandwiches to their victims. Of course, those who had chosen a different mugger would not be able to enjoy the sandwiches he would have given out had he enjoyed greater support from his victims. As you could have guessed, if some of the people received a mugger who handed out sandwiches they disliked, they were told they could always wait for the next election cycle and then vote him out.
Naturally, it didn’t take too long for enough people to realize that this was a rigged game, and the restorers suggested that the only way to really win was not to play this game at all. Sadly, the reformists insisted that if everybody just moved to the smallest tax plantation, then they could much more easily vote out the muggers “in public office” and replace them with their own trustworthy people who, presumably, would radically change the entire situation by simply mugging the rest of the people a whole lot less frequently, as well as by giving out only turkey, ham, and chicken sandwiches to their victims. As such, the people usually sided with either the statists or the reformists, because they figured that anyone who failed to participate in these government elections deserved whatever sandwiches they ended up with.
It didn’t matter that the restorers went out of their way to scientifically prove that such “electoral voting” was fraudulent. Whether they debunked the myths of the rational voter, defensive (or protest) voting, or “the lesser of two evils,” the evidence supporting such debunking was either routinely ignored or disingenuously ridiculed by both statists and reformists alike. A lifetime could easily have been spent by the restorers trying to gradually sway these elections to the point where the best they could hope for in their lifetimes was slightly more limited mugging.
And this, my dear grandchildren, is where our proverb that correctly says, “If you do vote, you cannot complain,” is based upon, for our ancestors realized that if you chose a mugger, any mugger, you are agreeing to the outcome of that contest ahead of time, just as a man who gambles his weekly paycheck away is agreeing to abide by the outcome of his bet, regardless of whether he wins or loses, lest he become a sore winner, or worse, a man who welches on his debts.
What, Penelope? Oh, I see what you mean…didn’t the people have the right to choose their own leaders? Ha! It is one thing to seek leaders for yourself, but it is a whole different ballgame if you are imposing rulers onto others. The deadly error of the ballot box was that it comingled these two very different actions beyond recognition, and in effect became little else than a slave suggestion box. Bickering about whom is allowed to use such a box is little else than a notorious distraction that has nothing at all to do with the cause for liberty.
Leaving behind this failed experiment, let us proceed to the next one.
The Jury Box
Sometime after John Q. Public died, there was a tradition that even the worst of statists honored. It was the ability of the people to have a say about how the rules were imposed upon a particular individual within a specific set of circumstances. Many scholars of that time attributed this as the only possible way to successfully reign in the excesses committed by John Q. Public’s heirs.
A disgruntled lawyer, who lived a few centuries ago, once wrote that the people enjoyed the right to judge the law as well as the facts of a case brought before them for adjudication by voting their conscience, regardless of the judge’s instructions to them. This same lawyer also pointed out that this ancient common law right had been rendered moot by the government’s increasing despotism over the course of the 19th century. Reformists, in their typically breezy manner, oh-so-conveniently neglected the second half of this lawyer’s argument by only emphasizing the first half, in order to spur up frenetic activity that, in the end, would spin the people around in circles, much like a snake eating its own tail.
Groups of people began suggesting that perhaps education about this ancient right would increase the probability of it being exercised. This assumption was tested in case after case for several decades, but the reformists appear to ignore the implications of the results. Each time, regardless of whether the jurors were given every possible advantage or notice of their ancient right, jury after jury chose guilty verdicts without fail, no matter how arbitrary or capricious the charges the defendant faced.
I suspect one major reason why juries usually let defendants hung out to dry was because jurors were just as captive as the defendants themselves were. Consider for a moment how a game of prisoner’s dilemma works, except that the game here is skewed heavily in favor of the jurors and strongly against the defendant. The worst any juror would face would be either a relatively minor penalty fee or a few nights in jail, whereas a defendant almost always stood to lose so much more.
Worse yet, jurors had more options about how they could act, as opposed to a defendant whose only real choices were to either accept a plea deal or fight the charges and risk losing noticeably more than if he had just taken the plea deal; consider also the so-called “jury tax,” which was a heavier punishment levied against a convicted defendant for choosing to exercise his right to a jury trial, but then losing his case. Suddenly, a juror choosing to switch his vote during jury deliberations, just so he can leave the court house an hour or two earlier than if he had chosen to stick to his conscience, and then your average juror’s decision-making begins to appear rather, well, calculating.
But (and this is a rather large but), the way a legal case is presented before the jury has to follow court procedures, such as their rules of evidence, which of course the people had no say as to what those rules would’ve been in the first place. As if this wasn’t bad enough, if you weren’t a registered voter, then you wouldn’t even be put on the federal jury wheel; and if you were neither a registered voter nor a licensed driver, then you wouldn’t be put on the Texas jury wheel, either.
Speak up, Charlie, I think my hearing unit is failing a bit. Oh, where’s Texas, you say? My boy, Texas is so far west as to be on the other shore of the great Mississippi River. And as to your other question about whether it’s a different country, heh, answering that should be saved for another evening.
Saddest of all, though, was the fact that the supermajority of these court cases never made it to trial, usually because the defendants were intimidated by the jury tax, and thus chose to accept a plea deal. So, if the jurors were going to railroad the defendant just so they could leave earlier anyway (because none of them wanted to be there in the first place, much like school, or prison), then why should any defendant place the slightest amount of trust in jurors to be fair and impartial arbitrators of justice? They didn’t, and like the game of prisoner’s dilemma, they usually chose the plea deal because they understood, if only intuitively, that they would be badly hurt by both the jury and the government, more likely than not, if they didn’t “cooperate” with the prosecutor.
Most glaringly, the competency of jurors is arguably comparable to that of voters. Jury wheels, jury selection, and ultimately jury verdicts are proudly held by reformists to be constituted totally randomly. Rather than base the composition of jurors based on their capabilities and willingness to do justice, they are instead assembled out of a lottery from a lot of miscreants and cowards who will do anything to escape their predicament. Grand juries rubber-stamped prosecutorial indictments, and petit juries were filled with these people who simply weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty, yet who were expected by statists to render judgments as to truly serious matters of guilt or innocence.
Despite all this, my dear grandchildren, there were even some restorers who adhered to the proverb that, “I’d rather be tried by twelve, than carried by six” to illustrate the idea that the jury box, at best, is not one that should be relied upon as a way of winning back one’s freedom, but rather, as a mostly unreliable last ditch rearguard action to only be used when all other better options have been exhausted.
With that said, it’s time to proceed onward towards a frequently ignored artifice.
The Soap Box
Now, while reformists primarily championed the first two boxes, this one straddles the boundary of effective action, just as a shadow would between light and darkness, for it could be used to propagandize, or it could equally be used to tell truths that are necessary to understand before bringing the entire system down to its knees. Free speech and a free press were truly beautiful things, if they could have been exercised without undue hardship, much like openly carrying a gun. Alas, such was not the case.
Believe it or not, there were forms of soft censorship used to stifle the remnants of the free press. Federal copyright law was used to silence those who produced video press releases, as well as others who had only copied songs from the corporate music industry, if not both. For instance, black hat hackers would game the system by filing false copyright claims on the old dinosaur YouTube website, simply for the purpose of learning the personal identities of various uploaders, the knowledge of which they’d use to harass and threaten them further.
Another problem was that statists would occasionally use the statements of any journalist as evidence against him in the government courts. For example, my parents made me memorize the following hearsay rule that was common throughout the former United States, which said that a statement cannot be hearsay if:
In other words, anything you say can and will be used against you by statists in order to steal your freedom and your property away from you, and they will do this by way of government law. For example, if you were writing a letter to the editor that Americans should consider using their common right of revolution to cast off the yoke of tyranny, all the social justice warriors would come out of the woodwork and accuse you of being an “advocate of violence,” if not also try to drag you into court on the grounds of incitement, despite the fact that such political content was totally legal at that time according to the government’s own lawyers.
It wasn’t just the government’s laws that infringed upon the free press, oh no, my grandchildren, it was also the incessant conflict generated by many who claimed to oppose government media. Sensationalism, not truth, was the prime currency, as misinformation and disinformation took precedence over reliable intelligence. News cycle junkies and inept “researchers” promoted myths and half-truths, which ended up serving only the tyrants. Confidence artists scammed well-intentioned donators out of their discretionary income. “Social justice” warriors inculcated false guilt in the minds of their victims only because they were both angered and jealous of their lifestyle preferences. Most importantly, the never ending bickering and infighting, with its concomitant strains of bullying and death threats, only benefited those who wanted their 15 minutes of fame, but not those who had wanted to spread the message of liberty.
Repeat that again, Penelope? Ah, wouldn’t all that fighting discourage people from opposing those bad men who pretended to be “government?” Well, my dear, yes it would, and it did. A few people realized how these dynamics worked, but by the time they did, it was already much too late for the remnants of the free press.
Ironically, participation in this so-called “alternative media” in fact violated individual privacy more often than not. Smeared were the good reputations of decent people, and baseless accusations held more sway than any exculpatory evidence, mainly because there was no semblance of due process, or basic fairness. As a result, many lovers of liberty saw their employment and business opportunities vanish since there was no remedy for them to even try and regain their good name. This, coupled with the scammers who promoted things like “activist legal defense funds,” were the causes behind why many restorers becoming more impoverished and disillusioned than they were before, and thus it served as a punitive disincentive against those who opposed the government.
An obscure blogger at the time remarked that his greatest fear wasn’t persecution from the government, necessarily, but rather the “alternative media” slowly mutating into the Internet version of statist media (hence the name calling of gun owners as “violence advocates”). He attributed this, in large part, to the destruction of language we now know full well as verbicide, which, you must keep in mind, was a little known concept at the time. Ultimately, he became quite despondent and chose to give up on any notion of spreading a message of any kind (at least, publicly, that is); in one of his final articles, he explained that almost nobody was listening, and of those who did, they stubbornly refused to act, instead preferring to simply repeat what he himself had said on a variety of given topics.
So, children, the adage provided by a more well-known author that, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act,” was more true than even most of the restorers gave it credit for; of course, both the statists and reformists were more than comfortable telling the noble lie as long as it served their nefarious purposes. What became of those restorers, who were still bracing the free press together with little more than bailing wire and duct tape, was that they finally shifted their focus from expressing their grievances to teaching their audiences how to resist the government’s police forces, because for all intents and purposes, they might as well have been living in 1930s Germany.
Having closed the door to that particular avenue, let’s next explore what happened to those who had resisted in a foolish manner.
The Pine Box
The shared assumption behind the three previous boxes was that there was some kind of peaceful solution to the age-old problem of tyranny. Elections, juries, and even the news cycle all serve to perpetuate the notion that if you only play by the tyrant’s own rules, then you will defeat him at some point. Whether it be by persuasion, gambling, or embarrassment, these approaches fail to address the root of statism itself, namely, the mindless obedience to authority.
It was this very obedience, Charlie and Penelope, that directly lead to the massive numbers of humans who died at the altar of so-called “public policy.” During the 20th century alone, there were 284,638,000 people murdered by government, and that number did not include those who were killed in war, whether they be military or civilian casualties, during either world war or the many smaller ones that took place as well. If that fact does not make you shudder to your core as to the dangerously unstable nature of all government, then I honestly don’t know what will.
Some good people back then debated with each other as to whether or not this was a malfunction of constitutional republicanism, or if all governments, no matter their form or structure, would always degrade back into tyranny, because that is it’s natural design. Ultimately, though, it didn’t really matter too much either way, because the result was exactly the same. No one with a conscience would be able to deny the many grievances expressed by the people who had suffered under the yoke of a despotism whose weaponry had the capability to destroy this planet many times over in their mad rush for absolute power over the entire human race.
Moral indignation at those who imagined themselves to be our rulers served as the backbone needed to grow and sustain an effective resistance. Disregarding their laws as whims of the self-appointed political class, freedom fighters across a range of political ideologies banded together in the common cause for the restoration of our liberty. Sadly, as these things tend to go, the reformists butted heads with the restorers as to how best resist the statists.
Civil disobedience became the tactic of choice, and peaceful evolution the long-term strategy of the reformists. They would encourage average people to not only disobey unjust laws, but to also do so blatantly and out in the open. Some of the restorers observed this behavior, labeling it “teasing the bear,” and advising against it, not because they opposed civil disobedience on principle, but because they advocated a wiser application of it that was much more discrete. In response to this criticism, the reformists performed their final act of betrayal to the cause of liberty when they routinely labeled the restorers as “advocates of violence.”
Ironically, such so-called “peaceful resistance” only ended up increasing the wrath of the tyrants upon the people, for reasons I’ve already mentioned. Worse yet, much of the techniques for doing so were ineffective, and what methods did actually work were seldom used. Only what was actively promoted by the reformists ever got any serious consideration by the majority of people who resisted government, because they owned the noticeable competition to state approved corporate media.
Those who persisted in this bad strategy also failed in its execution by not taking the proper precautions. For instance, there was no estate planning; no will, no nest eggs, no last wishes, and no prepaid funerals arranged ahead of time. Practitioners of “satyagraha” ultimately ended up dying in government prisons, irresponsibly failing to provide for their families.
Reformists who persisted in this course of action shouldn’t have expected any flag-draped coffins or a 21-gun salute at Arlington National Cemetery, like they’d expect from a Tom Clancy novel. The best anyone could hope for at their own funerals would be attendance from their good family and close friends who’d then pass around a bundle of burning sage before shooting an arrow into the sky as their homemade coffin was lowered into the earth. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all mortal, but what I’m trying to say here is that it doesn’t matter how you died so much as how well you lived, and it would seem that the reformists had forgotten that.
Because of this stems the phrase, “I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.” Although its sentiment is certainly more admirable that rolling over and groveling before the feet of tyrants, it stops awfully short of its potential to do some real good in the world. Meditating on death, as the medieval Japanese samurai did, can be useful in making peace with one’s mortality, but is unhelpful if one is attempting to inspire courage.
Now having examined the consequences of half measures, as well as of failure despite the best of intentions, let us now proceed to the final and most important box.
The Cartridge Box
If there ever was a Devil, the State is it; that is why the Founders of the former United States insisted on maintaining and strengthening the militia system. Because they viewed government as a necessary evil, they understood that the only truly effective check on the power of any government is for the common people to use their privately owned weapons to deter, and even repel, the King’s guards. As one of those former guards warned back then, “Tyranny can not come to the door of any American unless it comes in uniform.”
You must keep in mind, grandchildren, that revolutions are internal whereas restoring independence is external. This understanding, coupled with an appreciation for leaderless resistance, should impress upon you the dynamics inherent in the evolution of human liberty. Only a unity of purpose, not a unity of structure, would ever be the appropriate expression of any broad solidarity.
People, back then, routinely confused freedom with comfort. Before the Korean reunification of the 2020s, those who had been natively born in the southern half of the peninsula, as well as the expatriates from the northern half, considered life south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to be freer than in the north. However, both governments had constitutions, and both constitutions recognized many civil rights, including suffrage, free speech, and privacy of correspondence; interestingly, neither Korean constitution enumerated the right to keep and bear arms. Just because you could use a cellular telephone in the south, does not therefore mean that you are free, but what it certainly means is that you are more comfortable. Unlike the German reunification of the 1990s or the American reunification of the 1860s, the Koreans decided to try living without a government for awhile, and to their surprise, they enjoyed it very much.
Korean imitation of the civil defiance earlier demonstrated by Americans during the Bundy Affair was paramount in their ability to deter and ultimately repel both governments forcibly. South Korean dissidents, who were inspired by the restorers, marched around Seoul wearing holstered pistols; following the mass arrests of these demonstrators, the North Korean expats gathered around one of the police stations and smoked cannabis until they too were thrown into the same cells. This event, which became known as the “Seoul Roundup,” inspired the show of force in Pyongyang of peasants armed only with their pitchforks who were finally challenging the legitimacy of the communist government. With no more need for the DMZ, the American military stationed there returned home in order to suppress the popular uprisings in Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Topeka, but ultimately to no avail because nearly all those who had been on duty chose to not just disobey their superior officers, but to also join the growing resistance by hunting down and punishing the worst statists. By 2032, the long-suffering restorers had won their freedom back, but at no small sacrifice.
Reformists condemned both the American restorers and the Koreans for breaking the law, as this would destabilize both countries by inviting chaos, or so they said. Despite their repeated failures with elections, juries, and news, the reformists insisted on pushing forward a strategy of “peaceful evolution” on the grounds that if they simply could win some hearts and minds by chaining honorably discharged veterans to the doors of government buildings and then filming the subsequent police brutality, then this would magically accomplish something, somewhere, somehow. Needless to say, their failures were quite impressively astounding.
You can tell a lot about a government by how its law enforcement officers normally treat the citizenry. House raids normally included police officers shooting the family dog in cold blood or tazing women asleep in their beds. Once the public executions were being held in town squares to the sound of government trumpets blaring, guerrillas emerged who then began their combat operations by doing such things as pouring sand into the gas tanks of police cars.
Just like the American colonists and Texian settlers before them, the restorers organized local Committees of Safety in their neighbors and counties in order to bring a degree of stability to their respective areas of operation. These Committees of Safety, once they had established themselves as pillars of their communities, began recruitment for the formation of openly armed militia units, who would meet in local parks to practice close order drill and conduct physical fitness training as cohesive units.
Much of what followed was quite an exciting time. Politicians and their minions were targeted, as were the gendarmerie, the latter of whom were summarily executed on the spot. The strategy and tactics of the restorers was much like the Viet Cong guerrillas of the 1960s, but with the technological roles reversed.
Such an effort would have been impossible to mount without the logistical planning before the outbreak of active hostilities. For decades, many stockpilers began squirreling away materiel that one day could be used if any of the normal supply chains ever broke down, even if only temporarily. These stockpiles were quickly put to use by the guerrillas and their many allies, and because of this, the stockpilers became one of the most important support sections for the restorers of constitutional government.
Once the many Committees of Safety began coalescing into larger committees as the small white dots grew to eventually overshadow the black areas, then governance transitioned to the Constitutional Compliance Convention whose duty it was to guide the orderly dissolution of the tyrannical empire and the long-sought for restoration of these United States.
A few decades went by, and there were those who felt as if government really was an unnecessary evil. Public debates and many referendums were issued amongst this rather enlightened people, who had not too long before had regained their hard won republics, and were now faced with the very real prospect of experimenting with limiting government much more so, perhaps even to the point of extinction. First the American Southwest, followed closely by Texas and then the Pacific Northwest, abolished their respective governments, because their executive and judicial functions had already been replaced by the private production of security services alongside multi-tiered third-party arbitration that was sold in a truly freed market by competing dispute resolution firms.
Used during both the earlier American and Texan struggles for independence, the well-known phrase, “Come and take it!” was again pressed into use by the restorers in order to emphasize that the use of weapons to kill government agents, including so-called “law enforcement” or “police officers,” was truly, indeed, the last resort in the defense of freedom. Since that time, absolutely no one has dared to question the idea that firearms are liberty’s teeth, and as such, it is vitally important to maintain good hygiene.
* * * * *
Evolving past the most dangerous superstition was only made possible by the tireless actions of those who came before you, who suffered, fought, and often died just so that you and your children would be able to taste the sweet nectar of liberty. Incumbent is it upon you to maintain this fine tradition of ours by adhering to our libertarian values, lest the future descend again into the same bottomless pit of subjugation and oppression. Never be tempted into giving up your freedom for anything, and perhaps, one day, humanity might just assume its rightful place amongst the stars.
And now, my dearest grandchildren, it is time for bed, yet a part of me doubts this is in any way “the end,” for that could only be if the people living back then had chosen the bonds of slavery over the blessings of liberty. I think that what I have told you tonight is evidence that their faith in us has been duly rewarded more so than any of us could have ever imagined. That being said, off to bed with you; good night!
“So here’s the question for libertarians: Is property the natural state of man which can be returned to once we explain its obvious benefits to enough people? Or is it something only desired by a minority of people and achievable only when people are willing to fight for it? I’m in the latter camp and I want to see libertarianism returned to it warrior-aristocratic roots. Your family guards that wall, my family guards this wall, inside will we have a market with property rights. If people attempt to breech our walls, we will kill them. If people are ready to help defend our norms, we will welcome them.”
– Roman Skaskiw
Today’s meme reminds pacifists about the libertarian position on self-defense.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 37,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Americans who express serious grievances regarding welfare state entitlement handouts have a tendency to focus their rhetoric on theoretical abstractions rather than on practical action. Many of these libertarians and patriots are well-versed in multiple schools of economics, yet fall short when it comes down to examining the cafeteria of political tactics which might curb the power of the administrative agencies. Presuming that taxation, debt, inflation, and “security from cradle to grave” are obstacles against securing our common human liberties, then what legal remedies, based on sound economics, are available to us as helpful tools in resisting central planning?
Unclaimed property, simply put, is abandoned property held in trust by a government’s treasury. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’ Unclaimed Property Division, the Virginia Treasury’s Division of Unclaimed Property, and the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) each define unclaimed property, respectively, as:
“Unclaimed Property is any financial asset that has been abandoned by the owner for one or more years. Some examples of property that can become abandoned are dividend, payroll or cashier’s checks, stocks, mutual fund accounts, bonds, utility deposits and other refunds, bank accounts and safe deposit box contents, insurance proceeds, mineral interest or royalty payments, court deposits, trust funds, [or] escrow accounts.”
“Unclaimed Property is money or intangible property owed to an individual or business. Property is considered unclaimed after it is held for an extended period of time with no owner contact and a ‘good faith’ effort has been made to locate the owner.”
“Unclaimed property (sometimes referred to as abandoned) refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for one year or a longer period.”
Pay attention to the fact that the government considers this type of property as being owed to its rightful owners, but has been unable to successfully locate them in order to return said property. Now, why would any government do this? Virginia’s Division of Unclaimed Property and NAUPA both said, respectively, that:
“The Department of the Treasury administers the unclaimed property program as a consumer protection program for the citizens of Virginia. The primary purpose is to safeguard and return the unclaimed property to the rightful owners or their legal heirs.”
“Acting in the best interest of consumers, each state [government] has enacted an unclaimed property statute that protects your funds from reverting back to the company if you have lost contact with them. These laws instruct companies to turn forgotten funds over to a state official who will then make a diligent effort to find you or your heirs. Most states hold lost funds until you are found, returning them to you at no cost or for a nominal handling fee upon filing a claim form and verification of your identity.”
Notice that the government considers its trusteeship over unclaimed property as a type of consumer protection. What could possibly be the legal basis for this, though? Title 6 of the Texas Property Code describes how the Texas government handles unclaimed property (although I was unable to locate a statutory definition for that term), yet thankfully, the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (Code of Virginia § 55-210.2) explicitly defines unclaimed property, legally, as:
“As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:  ‘Unclaimed property’ means property for which the owner, as shown by the records of the holder of his property, has ceased, failed or neglected, within the times provided in this chapter, to make presentment and demand for payment and satisfaction or to do any other act in relation to or concerning such property. This definition shall be construed as excluding any act of a holder of unclaimed property not done at the express request or authorization of the owner.”
In other words, it is not the ownership of the property that is in question, but rather the fact that the owner has acquiesced in relinquishing possession of it, despite the fact that the government still recognizes the owner’s legal title to it.
How much unclaimed property does the government currently possess? Well, the Arizona Department of Revenue’s Unclaimed Property Unit says that it holds in excess of $1,000,000,000 in unclaimed property that belongs to over 1,000,000 citizens. The Charleston Daily Mail reported in 2011 that the West Virginia Unclaimed Property Division paid 88-year-old Frank Imperiale $169,491.20 from the interest accrued in a savings account that Imperiale had opened during the 1940s. ABC News reported in 2012 that nationwide, an estimated $32,000,000,000 was cumulatively held by the several state governments, and by January of 2013, CNN reported that this number had apparently risen to approximately $58,000,000,000. Interestingly enough, Virginia’s Division of Unclaimed Property said that:
“A portion of the funds received through the [unclaimed property] program is deposited into a reserve account maintained to allow for repayment to the rightful owners. The remaining funds are transferred to the Literary Fund for use in programs to support K-12 education. This doesn’t mean that these funds are no longer available to be claimed. They are simply being put to good use for the benefit of all citizens of the Commonwealth until the rightful owner(s) comes forward.”
Awfully clever, isn’t it? The Virginia government partially funds its public school system from a portion of the overall unclaimed property it currently possesses. It makes you wonder if any interest is also being earned on the principle amount, and if so, where that interest is being allocated towards, doesn’t it?
What difference does it make if the several state governments are holding onto billions of dollars worth of property that even they recognize as belonging to American citizens? Are there any implications of this for patriots and libertarians alike? You bet! Henry Hazlitt once said that:
“The condition of poverty, moreover, is relative rather than absolute…[t]he only real cure for poverty is production.”
Of course, as any entrepreneur knows, in order to own and operate said means of production, whether it be a hammer or a factory line, individuals must have enough savings (that is, investment capital) in order to buy the tools required to be productive in whatever industry they choose to work in. But, it is nearly impossible to accumulate enough savings to do this since the government is completely hell-bent on inflating, taxing, and indebting the remaining wealth of Americans to the point where much of the citizenry find themselves dependent upon “social welfare” handouts like food stamps and Section 8 housing. Add onto this the evils of the administrative agencies and their so-called “business regulations,” and what you find is a difficult political situation whereby the government has strongly discouraged people from creating wealth, mainly because there is little available capital from which to start new businesses.
Another implication to consider would be that reclaiming unclaimed property is a legal remedy that could help starve the State. Objectivists and conservatives alike have argued over the years that it is moral and ethical to “take the welfare benefits” because “it’s like getting your tax money back.” Of course, there is never any accounting given by these taxpayers of how much they enjoy from their welfare entitlements vis-à-vis the amount of taxes they originally paid, so this is little else than a thinly veiled excuse for those who say they value frugality to not practice what they preach. By contrast, unclaimed property, by definition, is already the property of its owners, and in the meantime, is just sitting in the government’s coffers waiting around to be reclaimed. If you truly oppose the welfare state on principle, I can’t see a better way to do so legally than by attempting to reclaim your unclaimed property (although I will suggest that you refrain from practicing civil disobedience while trying to do so, lest the government attempts to use civil forfeiture against you, thereby making any restitution of your property null and void).
Inspired by Stephen White’s article on swatting the government parasites, I decided to test this method of reclaiming unclaimed property myself. NAUPA is affiliated with MissingMoney.com, which is the closest equivalent to a nationwide searchable database that cross-references all the other searchable databases of unclaimed property that are maintained by the several state governments. To my surprise, I found that there was property I was owed, but I would have to further contact Virginia’s Division of Unclaimed Property for more details, which I did last August. I filed an affidavit under penalty of perjury claiming that I believed, in good faith, that I was the rightful owner of the unclaimed property in question, which turned out to be a tax refund in excess of $50. Three months later, I received a check for $265 from the Virginia Treasury, as you can see from a redacted scan of the receipt as well as the cropped photographs I took of the actual check itself:
Needless to say, I deposited the check without any hiccups. Not too long after, I rechecked the searchable unclaimed property databases, and any record I was still owed any unclaimed property was thankfully erased (just to clarify, my legal name is not the same as my pen name, hence why I redacted & cropped the abovementioned pictures, because I’d like to retain whatever privacy I still have left).
So, I can now say, that I successfully reclaimed formerly unclaimed property from the Virginia Treasury in the amount of $265 between August and November of last year. In accordance with Stephen White’s advice, I did use some of it to pay off the remaining balance of my credit card debt, although I have not yet switched to a credit union as he suggested, mainly because I think a better goal might be to become what the FDIC called “unbanked.” Anyone who still maintains a bank account is at a higher risk for becoming a victim of civil forfeiture, identity theft, or even the cashless society.
Unfortunately, there are limitations you must know about regarding the efficacy of reclaiming unclaimed property that I came across when I tested it recently:
- First, as you’ve probably noticed, you need to have some way of either depositing or otherwise cashing whatever check you may receive from the government.
- Second, you must verify your legal identity somehow; in my case, I was required to provide a photocopy of my Social Security card and my driver’s license.
- Third, if your legal name does not pop up on any searchable unclaimed property database, then there is nothing more you can do, because you cannot reclaim any unclaimed property that the government does not recognize you as the legally rightful owner of; and,
- Fourth, reclaiming unclaimed property, for the most part, is a one-trick pony, unlike dumpster diving, which is repeatable, albeit legally questionable, depending on where you live.
There are some misconceptions I’d like to clear up regarding the entire topic of unclaimed property. Despite what corporate media may say or imply, reclaiming unclaimed property has nothing to do with the Internal Revenue Service, and little, if anything, to do with the federal government at large, because it is mostly a phenomenon involving the several state governments. Unclaimed property is neither a Matthew Lesko “free money” scam nor a welfare state entitlement handout, because of the government’s legal basis for it, in addition to its potential as a legal remedy for shrinking the welfare state. Fears that merely searching the unclaimed property databases somehow violate your privacy are bogus, for the very simple reason that the unclaimed property units already have your Social Security number on file (as they did with me); I suggest that if you consider yourself a privacy advocate, then you should see if any unclaimed property is owed you, and if so, to reclaim it, so your legal name can be removed from those databases (as was done with me). Most importantly, reclaiming unclaimed property is definitely not the same as the alleged “Accepted for Value” (A4V) method those oxymoronic “sovereign citizens” typically advise people to somehow pick up and use.
To summarize, reclaiming unclaimed property is a way for someone to legally rescue private property, similar to how dumpster diving does so in principle, albeit in its own legally precarious way. I hope that I’ve sufficiently proved that reclaiming unclaimed property is just as reliable a legal remedy as unregistering from the voter rolls is, besides the fact that both of them appear to reinforce state citizenship. If any of you are successful in reclaiming unclaimed property yourselves, I’d suggest you consider investing the proceeds into tangible goods, such as storable foods or precious metals, as you are willing to do so.
If anyone is going to be able to frugally enjoy their liberty, then it would behoove each and every one of us to rectify the “mugger’s sandwich” problem as best as we individually can. By doing so, we can begin the road towards financial independence from both the government and the corporations, neither of whom really care about our lives or liberties. To be fair, though, I think some frank conversations need to be had regarding whether the government respects our property rights, especially in light of civil asset forfeiture, with the pressing question being, does the legal ability for citizens to reclaim unclaimed property adequately counterbalance the government’s ability to civilly forfeit anyone’s private property anytime they wish?