LA Seizures


Former Reason staffer Mariel Garza, now a mainstay on the editorial page of the Los Angeles Daily News, throws some cold water on the latest, greatest idea from the Los Angeles City Council. Which needless to say, is hardly original or limited to LA-LA Land's rulers. This sort of thing is all too common.

Writes Garza,

The Los Angeles City Council is now looking at yet another offense that could be punishable by confiscating the wrongdoer's vehicle. This time it's drunken drivers -- well, accused drunken drivers, anyway.

The idea…is to deter people from driving drunk….This would be the fifth sort of activity for which the city seizes the vehicles of people only suspected of a crime.

Currently, those suspected of soliciting a prostitute, dumping trash, street racing or selling drugs can have their cars taken. Never mind the fundamental tenets of our nation's judicial system that supposes someone to be innocent until proved guilty, or that punishment should fit the crime.

City Hall, which has a well-established reputation for confiscating taxpayer wealth and giving precious little in return, hopes to get around the legal niceties of the Constitution by making it a civil law, not criminal law, issue.

But why stop at five suspected crimes, asks Garza.

In line with this kind of thinking, the powers that be might consider extending their lust for other people's property to areas where the greater good of the community could be served more broadly….

Perhaps the City Council might consider a measure that would seize all funds from political campaigns that violate fund-raising laws. That would no doubt hurt politicians more than the current slap-on-the-wrist fines and cause them to think twice the next time they consider transgressing the city's ethics laws.

And if the city confiscated the thousands of businesses that were suspected of cheating on taxes, it could resell them at a profit to the company's competitors.

There's really no end to the possibilities of abusing these kinds of laws. If carried to its logical absurdity -- which the City Council is especially skilled at doing -- City Hall might end up owning all the property in Los Angeles and the people would all be landless tenants. It would be a triumph of municipal socialism that would fulfill city leaders' dreams…

But before the City Council -- a body that goes out of its way to pass measures decrying civil-liberties violations in far-flung places -- votes on these measures, its members might consider how great edifices are brought down by little chips in the foundation. This latest confiscation proposal is one of those chips.

Whole thing here.