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Trump’s Absurd Claim that Americans Are Free from Government Coercion

James Bovard
February 8th, 2019
Mises Institute
Comments (61)
Read by 1,402 people
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This article was originally published by James Bovard at the Mises Institute

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump received rapturous applause from Republicans for his declaration: “America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.” But this uplifting sentiment cannot survive even a brief glance at the federal statute book or the heavy-handed enforcement tactics by federal, state, and local bureaucracies across the nation.

In reality, the threat of government punishment permeates Americans’ daily lives more than ever before:

The number of federal crimes has increased from 3 in 1789 to more than 4000 today. Congress has criminalized “transporting alligator grass across a state line; unauthorized use of the slogan ‘Give a hoot, don’t pollute’; and pretending to be a 4-H club member with intent to defraud,” as the Buffalo Criminal Law Review noted.

Law enforcement agencies arrested over 10 million people in 2017— roughly three percent of the population. Trump momentarily noticed the existence of government coercion last month when he complained about the FBI using “29 people” and “armored vehicles” for the arrest of Roger Stone. But SWAT teams conduct up to 80,000 raids a year, according to the ACLU, mostly for drug arrests or search warrants. Many innocent people have been killed in such raids.

Trump on Tuesday highlighted the case of Alice Johnson, unjustly sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. Trump’s commutation of her sentence is no consolation to the targets of 1.6 million drug arrests in 2017 – and it is not like those individuals showed up voluntarily at police stations asking to be “cuffed-and-stuffed.” More people are arrested for marijuana offenses than for all violent crimes combined, according to FBI statistics.

No coercion? Tell that to the scores of thousands of victims of asset forfeiture laws, which entitle law enforcement to confiscate people’s cash, cars, and other property based on the flimsiest accusation. Federal law-enforcement agencies seized more property via asset forfeiture provisions in 2014 year than all the burglars stole from homeowners and businesses nationwide.

Since 1970, the number of people confined in American prisons has increased by over 500 percent. Almost 10 percent of all American males will end up in prison at some point in their lives, according to an a 1997 Justice Department report. More than 10 percent of black males aged 20 to 34 were behind bars as of 2006, according to the Journal of American History.

Citizens and businesses pay more than $3 trillion in federal taxes each year thanks largely to the array of threats and penalties for non-compliance. Each week, scores of thousands of Americans have their bank accounts seized by the IRS, or have IRS liens put on their houses or land, or endure a tax audit, or receive notice of penalties and demands for additional taxes. The number of different penalties the IRS imposes on taxpayers has increased more than tenfold since 1954.

No one has a good estimate of the number of Americans who fall victim to arbitrary and capricious regulations by federal agencies. When the Supreme Court heard the case of the Agriculture Department’s dictates prohibiting raisin farmers from selling much of their harvest in 2014, Justice Elena Kagan suggested that the regime was “the world’s most outdated law.” But there are many other senseless provisions that the media and the courts simply ignore.

Trump perpetuates one of Washington’s fondest myths – that the federal government is not coercive unless the president or some agency boss formally announces their plans to brutally punish some group without cause. This is notion is avidly supported and propagated by many of the nation’s pundits and political scientists as a way to keep people paying and obeying.

Trump followed his “no coercion here” assertion with the following line: “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a Socialist country.” Democrats responded with a stony if not irritable silence. Perhaps the greatest irony in Washington is that the people who distrust Trump the most are seeking to vastly increase government power.

Democratic socialists have offered no evidence that new federal takeovers of the economy would not produce the same disasters as followed federal domineering of agriculture or the mortgage industry. Instead, new economic prohibitions would create a profusion of victims akin to Eric Garner, who was strangled in 2014 by a New York City policeman after being apprehended selling individual cigarettes without a license.

President Andrew Johnson rightly observed in an 1868 message to Congress, “It may be safely assumed as an axiom… that the greatest wrongs inflicted upon a people are caused by unjust and arbitrary legislation.” But the federal statute book and Code of Federal Regulations are Towers of Babble that contain vast numbers of punitive provisions that unjustly ruin or blight other Americans’ lives. Trust the Washington establishment to continue pretending that “there is nothing to see here” in the continuing automatic-pilot coercion of the nation.

***

James Bovard is the author of ten books, including 2012’s Public Policy Hooligan, and 2006’s Attention Deficit Democracy. He has written for the New York TimesWall Street JournalPlayboyWashington Post, and many other publications.

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Author: James Bovard
Views: Read by 1,402 people
Date: February 8th, 2019
Website: https://mises.org/

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61 Comments...

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  1. And don’t forget about Trumps statement at the SOTU that he wants ‘huge’ numbers of immigrants to enter this country (albeit legally). This is the last thing this country needs. With the expanded welfare state, most of them either come here to suck the entitlements or flood the lower-wage job pool with a cheaper labor force.
    And don’t forget he wants to expand the entitlement state (and socialism) even more by creating regulations that allow employees to take “paid” family leave. Can you imagine the amount of people that will end up needing to take care of their “ailing” parent, sister, spouse, etc…with employers forced to pay them a full salary for an extended period of time. This is the very essence of socialism. But he exclaimed that we will NEVER be a socialist state. NEWSFLASH: We’re already 80% there.
    And fiscal policy? He has grown the govt even bigger, and reduced taxes on mostly the corporate elite (using all that $$ for stock buybacks). Will hit $22 trillion soon and the budget deficit has grown also. Does he not understand that we can’t afford all this govt spending/entitlements anymore?
    And lest not forget: what have we gotten since his election twp years ago, and the Repubs controlling both houses of Congress and the Presidency? NADA…we still have Obamacare….we still don’t have a wall….we are deeper in debt than ever….we are still in Afgan, Iraq, Syria….(and talking about invading Venezuela).
    No my friends….this dog and pony show on Tuesday was a farce.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      It’s very simple folks: Gov’t is criminal and incompetent and getting worse as the days go bye. And how we all though good ole’ Trumpet would actually make America Great Again! Hahahaha. There is ZERO chance this hell-hole known as the United States Corporation will ever be GREAT again…you might as well forget it Jack!! Folks, this is a slow version of the Titanic, sinking in the freezing cold, icy Atlantic and the Fat Lady has sung a many, many years ago I am sad and sorry to say but the truth is the truth guys.

    • pay taxes or end up fighting it out in court and lose everything.

      Government coercion.

      Your ball, mr president.

      • Menzoberranzan says:

        Yep, be a little late with your huge property tax bill if you have some land and get the threatening letters in the mail. Don’t pay them long enough and they’ll take your land. This is something I will and may die over. If I’m going to be carried off my land dead then they will also carry off the bodies of as many costumed goons I can kill, which will be many.

        • The Deplorable Renegade says:

          Menzo, neither me nor any of my family are giving up anything without a fight. Sure, the goons will claim they’re ‘just following orders’. But that same claim was made by the Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, who were still held accountable and punished regardless. I’ll die before I take any orders from any govt. goons. I’m not someone’s ‘good little nazi’.

          • Menzoberranzan says:

            DR, property taxes are my biggest concern regarding unconstitutional taxation. How can we say we own anything? I would certainly make them fight me to the death for my land and home.

            • The Deplorable Renegade says:

              Menzo, all of us in the family pay our property taxes on time every year so that’s one less thing for us to worry about. We also hate property taxes but it is what it is. But once the balloon goes up I believe everything will change.

        • Gene Grimm says:

          You are right! Urbanites do not understand a freeman’s attachment to his land. As the government is increasingly dominated by urbanites the government has become increasingly hostile to rural Americans. I read once that a patriot was someone who loved his home LAND. Without an attachment to land we have no true patriots. I too will die on my land before it is taken for purposes of social and economic justice. I pray my sons, daughters and grandchildren feel the same.

  2. Maranatha says:

    What nonsense. You blame President Trump for actions taken by Congress and SCOTUS decisions that were not on his watch. WTF.

    This is just sickening Trump bashing and Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Gov’t sucks and especially the so called Congress. Now they are genuinely the most worthless and arrogant clowns around!

    • Chris says:

      Just as a traitor should be treated, well, actually the real treatment involves a tree and a rope.

      Signed the Patriot act
      Restarted the 1033 program
      Increased domestic spying
      Increased civil asset forfeiture
      Attacking the 2nd amendment
      Much more, but this much alone would have the founders calling for revolution.

    • Hardrock says:

      Trump bashing at it finest ! Sounds like the writer is one of the whiny liberals that want nothing but division in this country ? What a waste of time!! WTFU?!

      • Beaumont 2.0 says:

        He’s not a cultural nor fiscal conservative, most of the time.

        I could personally have a platonic sort of respect for the office and the fixtures of a modern civilization. I felt that a unitary executive, doing clinical, procedural kind of stuff, is completely inoffensive — without all the back-and-forth. Why do we need to make a deal for ordinary kinds of necessities.

        “Civilization jihad”, potable water, and putting canker worms ahead of live human young are not political issues. Why must RINO’s put moral equivalence ahead of objectivism. Aesop and Biblical parables are good enough.

    • vincente pox says:

      If Obama’s SOTU address was filled with this propaganda, you and the rest of the true believers would be apoplectic and triggered. And you would be bashing Obama and Holder. Just keep up the same old warvangelical chants:

      “Republican Good, Democrat Bad, Trump is the Messiah, Bolton is a hero, Russia is the Antichrist, Israel uberalles!”

      • Maranatha says:

        Your stupid response is so off from my personal beliefs that what you wrote is absurd. I doubt you have read and understood any of my posts based on your ludicrous comment.

        • Genius says:

          I find myself scrolling past the pages of comments you make because of your ludicrous crap. This isn’t a religious site it’s a prepping site. I like the comments you make on prepping but the rest is garbage. But you have gotten so bad I skip your posts because I am sick of hearing your religious dribble.

          • Maranatha says:

            Fine by me you unrepentant reprobate.

          • Anonymous says:

            You noticed the echo chamber comments from the other insane polar end of the whackjob spectrum… Funny thing is about the echochambers regardless of political bend is they employ the exact same tactics. There is no centrist that have opinions anymore, they have been driven by the insane extremists away by them. The actual rational people reserve comment rather than fight fixed in place ideologues who always resort to their power words preaching their orthodoxy and name calling. Pathetic how badly polite society has failed

    • The Deplorable Renegade says:

      Maranatha, agreed. Many of these things were happening even before Trump was born. Trump is NOT to blame for them. Very good article by James Bovard. He’s one of my favorite writers and he’s written a few books. I highly recommend him and the Mises Institute website.

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    Ha, sad and pathetic, we are definitely NOT Free, again Not Free but we should be and that is what that lil old piece of worthless paper seems to say but yeah…We are nothing but financial Serfs period!! If we are so “Free”, look around and then take notice what happens if we don’t pay taxes and you happen to say own a home and see how long before the Gov’t Goon Squad, Gestapo takes said home and throws your dumb ass right on the street!

  4. Like the OP says we are already 80% socialist. The other 20% is filled by totalitarianism and crony capitalism.

    Big military industrial intelligence complex subsidies, Big ag subsidies, Big old farts medical subsidies, Big old farts social security subsidies, Big poor people welfare, Big government health and retirement subsidies, Big Wall Street fraud bailout subsidies, Big bankrupt car manufacturers bailout subsidies. Everybody has their favorite socialist subsidy that is funded by stealing money from one group and giving it to another group. That’s certainly not free market capitalism.

    You’ve been lied to in school and are still being lied to by the bosses and most of the media.

  5. Kevin2 says:

    Asset Forfeiture

    From the 5th Amendment:

    “… nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”

    “Due Process” has been redefined as anything the government does that involves the legal process. It’s ridiculous to assume that the Founding Fathers intended for private property can be taken, including cash, without a conviction but even criminal / civil charges being filed.

    From the 6th Amendment:

    ” In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,…”

    Without charges your deprived of a speedy trial and impartial jury.

    According to the functional application of the law, you have the right to shut up and do as you’re told.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is one of, if not the best articles posted on this site! This is the huge elephant in the room that virtually never is mentioned. Yet, the herd of would-be free people still munch their cud and let that government have and amass more of the firepower to coerce the would-be free people.

  7. EastTNPatriot says:

    I would recommend reading losthorizons.com as one solution to this problem.

  8. “Born Free, Live Free with no walls that surround you, as free as…cause there’s no place to hide”

    What was the message?

    These are words from a movie’s theme song about a family that adopts a baby lion whose mother is dead and then releases the lion back into the wilds of African jungle.

    On another topic of Trump’s speech, President Trump, to his credit, made the announcement that he is passing legislation to ban late term abortion, and made reference to abortion and infanticide. This is so much more important, in my opinion, but there seems to be little to no acknowledgement, so I would like to acknowledge and thank the president for his courage in taking this important step forward. The innocent lives of babies, and the mental and spiritual well being of the mothers is crucial to the survival of the USA. A Country that has lost its moral compass is lost.

    .

    .

  9. rellik says:

    America died when the 16th amendment was passed, and was buried when the 17th amendment passed.
    The two errors can never be corrected as long as we allow Democrats and Socialists to exist.
    Pol Pot had the right idea, destroy the cities. Maybe the Norks or Iran will do that for us.

    • Kevin2 says:

      rellik

      The 16th definitely, the 17th possibly (maybe) due to the State Legislators being closer to the people and possibly less corruptible. Redefining the meaning of words in both the Bill of Rights and Constitution thus stripping both of intent certainly has significant blame. In the end, the insouciance of the public, far more concerned with entertainment and ease (food & circus) guarantees that no government will function as intended.

  10. Brian says:

    Is it possible to do anything of any importance without breaking some kind of law or regulation? You need an attorney to navigate the laws and regulations and to avoid being arrested or sued!

  11. The Deplorable Renegade says:

    Kevin2, I confess it took me many years to finally accept and understand the public doesn’t care. I’ve tried to educate them and even talk them into becoming preppers but all they do look at me like I just arrived from Mars. I used to beat my head up against a wall myself. But shortly after Hurricane Katrina I threw in the towel on them. They just prefer to stay lost. Let them suffer the consequences of their stupidity. Karma is nothing nice.

    • Kevin2 says:

      They’re intentionally oblivious to the politics driving the reality and its former, current and future effect upon them. One could call it stupidity but I believe it’s laziness both physical and intellectual. Thinking is work and acting upon it is even more. Every day nothing happens reinforces their normalcy bias. The thinker looks at it from the perspective that if the causes (geo-political, economic and social) aren’t changed, then each day nothing happens only increases its future likelihood. Under the circumstances that is a reasonable and logical deduction. The increasing craziness of society supports this thesis.

      • Genius says:

        Willfull ignorance. It really is stupidity if you think about it. In the greatest information age man has ever known, people choose to be as stupid as humanly possible. What does that tell you about humanity? Lazy.. yes… Ignorant.. yes… stupid as fuck… yes… doomed.. yes.. there is nothing we can do to change it. It is just the way humanity is.. AN EPIC FAILURE! Fuckin’ idiots reject common sense logical solutions (painful) because it doen’t fit they’re desires. Oh well. have it their way and the hell these assholes are bringing to fruition!

      • Yahooie says:

        Found this pic yesterday. It captures the thought well.

        ht tps://imgur.com/pzBSVo1

  12. Asshat says:

    Trump wants immigrants but not fucking wet backs from shit hole South American socialist hellholes. Believe it or not there are highly educated people from first world nations that want to cum here and have something to offer other than manual labor. As for being free he’s lost his mind. The psychological warfare used on everyone has everyone believing in some dream that is out of reach for 99 percent of the public. The public has been demoralized for so long. Broken promises and dreams is all we know.

  13. Pa Kettle says:

    Coercion is their modus operandi

  14. Maranatha says:

    I see zero evidence that the Luciferians have an inkling of a just and fair society. They refuse to admit that objective morality exists (no ultimate right, nor wrong, no good, nor evil).

    Everything they propose is tyranny and death to the tune of mass democide.

    On an individual level they want bacchinalia. On a corporate level they want absolute totalitarianism! It’s nuts. Do as I say,not as I do.

    This is how something benign like family planning became heretical contraception, then wanton feminism, then broken marriages, then divorce and single moms, then child abandonment, then sexual freedom spawned mass contagion through STDs, then abortion, then late term abortion, then INFANTICIDE.

    The Lucferians embrace wholesale EVIL…and call that wisdom and enlightenment.

  15. Kevin2 says:

    I believe the goal is the equivalent of a world wide ant colony consisting of obedient workers and soldiers under central control.

  16. Trump almost certainly believes Americans are free from governmental coercion because having grown up rich and privileged and as and adult become even richer and MORE privileged he has never experienced any coercion from government. Just as most politicians have never been on the victim side of the government. It’s a willful blindness that he has as does most of the privileged and wealthy. The law in America has NEVER been applied equally to all. Therefore those not subject to it like the average American don’t see the problem….to them not only is there no problem but the system as it is works FOR them.

  17. Kevin2 says:

    Dan

    I have seen no groundswell of opposition to asset forfeiture from the democrats either nor a peep out of them regarding NSA spying. They’re all up to their necks in both corruption and control.

  18. Hey Marantha…I didn’t say Trump was to blame. Don’t put words in my mouth. Just like Bush wasn’t to blame for the 2008 great recession. But I refuse to listen to the Trumpeting of how great things are. The economy is an illusion, Built on artificially low interest rates, excessive borrowing, and money printing (QE). More woman in the work force and in Congress is not to be heralded as fantastic progress (it is not). And bringing in millions of more immigrants is NOT what this country needs. I do not have blind faith…I do not consider Trump some sort of Savior on a white horse. (even though I do like him). I call a spade a spade.
    This country is on a road to collapse, and Trump is not going to save us. LIVE WITH IT!!!!!

  19. Marantha says:

    It was Trump or Hillary. What option was there?

    I wanted Rand Paul…naturally as he’s a standup guy and a Kentuckian and a patriot and a Christian.

    But instead we got a known philanderer and a billionaire.

    Well that was better than the worst globalist in the land, a disgusting sellout to the Russians who made 100 million for her Clinton Foundation by selling uranium. The dogbitch from Arkansas who gave us NAFTA. The Whore of Babylon who every politician knows is a notorious lesbo. The creepy Luciferian antichrist Hillary Clinton.

    Well Trump is a mixed bag, but turned the American economy around, in a miraculous two years, with the lowest veteran, black American, and hispanic American unemployment ever recorded. The economy is rebounding with huge numbers f unexpected manufacturing jobs. And the guy is donating his salary because POTUS had insisted he would just forego a salary, but they wouldn’t let him.

    He’s on a roll, and if he wins in 2020, which he might, then Pence 2024 and 2028 is a possibility.

    And the Rand Paul might be Pence’s VP. And if that happens, which it might, then Rand Paul 2032 and 2036 is a possibility.

  20. Maranatha says:

    cCDzRtZLUkc
    You could vote for Hillary, who notoriously defended a known child molester and bragged about intimidating a 10 year old victim.

    That is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Or vote for Trump. It was NOT a hard decision for rural folks.

    If I wanted to, I could detail over eleven scandals around Hillary.Every time I criticize her with details, Disqus puts that comment in a hold.

    • Maranatha says:

      With any luck, the End Times will not culminate with Trump/Pence. I am hoping Pence chooses Rand Paul as his running mate and then finally Rand Paul will end up the POTUS.

      That is the only way he can get elected, by first serving as VP. It is nigh impossible for a devout Christian to be directly elected as POTUS.

      This means KY has to likely replace McConnell and Paul with staunch conservative Republican senators to maintain control.

      Pence is an archconservative and Rand Paul is a libertarian Republican who might actually be a John Birch Society Republican. Nothing could be more ideal in the POTUS.

      That would give us extreme control for 16 years and we could wipe these Luciferian scum off the map in the USA.

      GOD BLESS THE USA.

      • Maranatha says:

        AZU0c8DAIU4
        Many of you are John Birch Society Republicans…you just don’t know it. Listen as Welch predicted what would happen in 1958. He knew what had to happen or else the pinkos and commies would infiltrate and subvert our constitutional republic.

        The only way now is to incrementally get the right people in power and fight back in brilliant ways, and not trying pointless tactics by going head on.

        We lost the House as often happens, and RINOs are responsible because instead of standing should-to-shoulder and using the nuclear option when voting on legislation, the RINOs acted like the minority party. That impotence resulted in the loss of the House.

        Every Trump rally was JAM PACKED. We lost because the DNC stole the election with illegal aliens voting. So the most critical thing we can do is an OPERATIONWETBACK as Eisenhower did, and get these foreign invaders out of the country…including anchor babies.

        Step 2, we create compulsory citizenship tests for all citizens, most likely in 7-8 grade. In history, we had US History and in Kentucky, Kentucky history courses, and these mandatory classes ensured that students knew the Constitution and could if they wanted to, pass a citizship test.

        Step 3, SCOTUS defines natural born citizens versus naturalized citizens versus native born citizens. That immediate gets pinkos out of the POTUS position.

  21. The scary part is….He is the best president we have EVER HAD !

  22. THe Preacher says:

    Stating that Wsshington DC is a ‘Criminal Shakedown/Extortion Racket’ – merely masquerading as a “Governamnt” – would be, if anything, an UNDER-STATEMENT!

  23. Susan says:

    coercion is the number one tool government from local to federal use in order to keep the public living in fear so they can maintain their vast power and control over us as if we are a society of slaves to people in government who are to a large degree illegitimate.

    we’re not a free Society we live under a government full of sociopaths psychotics and narcissists communist new world order insurgents.

    So the next time when you see something on the television propaganda/programming machine about how the Hells Angels or the gambino crime family boogeymen are the biggest organized crime rackets in the world, that’s bullshit as the biggest organized crime syndicate in the world is the United States federal government and has been for a long time.

    An indoctrinated brainwashed society is an easily subverted society.

    Cheese dick is full of shit on a regular basis.

  24. Donald Trump….probably the finest president in our history,
    PERIOD !

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