The Danger Of Having More Government Than We Need

On Friday, George Will posted an article in the Washington Post about some recent events in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. It is a story of excessive big government–not Massachusetts government, but the federal government.

Russ Caswell owns a budget motel his father built in 1955. He is 68, and the motel provides his retirement income. The motel has seen better days, but still hosts tourists, some workers on extended stays and some elderly people who call it home. The 56 rooms rent for $56 a night or $285 a week.

The article reports:

Since 1994, about 30 motel customers have been arrested on drug-dealing charges. Even if those police figures are accurate — the police have a substantial monetary incentive to exaggerate — these 30 episodes involved less than 5/100ths of 1 percent of the 125,000 rooms Caswell has rented over those more than 6,700 days. Yet this is the government’s excuse for impoverishing the Caswells by seizing this property, which is their only significant source of income and all of their retirement security.

The federal government is now planning to seize the property, sell it (expecting to receive about $1.5 million) and give 80 percent of that to the Tewksbury Police Department.

The article reports:

The Caswells have not been charged with, let alone convicted of, a crime. They are being persecuted by two governments eager to profit from what is antiseptically called the “equitable sharing” of the fruits of civil forfeiture, a process of government enrichment that often is indistinguishable from robbery.

The lawsuit is titled United States of America v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts. The Caswells are represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), described in the article as a ‘libertarian public-interest law firm.’ The IJ describes the civil forfeiture proceeding as something that was used against pirates to seize their booty. In this case the federal government is the pirate!


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Sometimes Politicians Do Things That Are So Arrogant It’s Almost Funny

The State House in Boston

The State House in Boston (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Thursday the Boston Herald reported that a six-member conference committee of lawmakers in Massachusetts charged with creating a bill to boost government performance, accountability and transparency and increase oversight of spending have decided to hold their meetings in private.

Representative Peter Kocot (D-Northampton) stated:

“Holding open meetings, during which negotiators would discuss differences and seek common ground on bills overhauling government administration and finance laws, might inhibit frank negotiations.

“If you look at the rules of committees, the joint rules, conference committees are not included in those rules. Conference committees operate under a separate set of rules and typically it’s been very common practice in the Legislature to close conference committees so that the members of the conference committee can have a frank and open discussion of the merits of the bills.”

Good grief!

Massachusetts is a one-party state. If you would like more transparency and more honesty in the Massachusetts government, you need to make it a two-party state. Even if you don’t agree with one of the parties, having two parties in government tends to make government more accountable.

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