A. Barton Hinkle on How the Government Steals from Citizens


"Government," as Barney Frank and other progressives are fond of saying, "is just another word for things we choose to do together." Like rob people blind. Sometimes the together-doing is highway robbery in the most literal sense '" as when police departments seize cash from motorists who are never even charged with a crime. The euphemism for that is civil asset forfeiture, and it's gotten so out of hand even hang-'em-high, law-and-order conservatives say it needs to stop.

But sometimes, writes A. Barton Hinkle, the robbery is committed not on the highways but for the sake of them '" especially here in Virginia. Just ask James and Janet Ramsey, who live near Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. Five years ago, the Virginia Department of Transportation took a chunk of their property through a controversial process known as quick take.