Dateline: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The concept of robbing from the rich to feed the poor has long been popularized by the popular English folklore figure Robin Hood.
Accompanied by his band of merry men, Robin Hood carried about in an effort to achieve his own form of wealth redistribution.
Historians have argued that Robin Hood was quite likely a real historical figure; an aristocrat whose land was stolen through expropriation and who was made an outlaw by the local sheriff.
Despite being a role model for modern day socialist wealth grabbers, Robin Hood could possibly be the poster boy for everything that’s wrong with modern day wealth confiscation and the surveillance state.
In coming years, more and more people who dare speak out against their government will find their assets conveniently seized through various programs, the illusion of freedom of speech be damned.
In fact, a few historians even suggest that Robin Hood himself was merely the victim of a government that stole his wealth whose name went on to be used as an alias for thieves wanting to hide under the cloak of some form of legitimacy.
While we certainly are not in favor of Robin Hood’s trademark “rob the rich to feed the poor”-style wealth redistribution here – or any form of wealth redistribution, for that matter – it is interesting to take the idea and turn it on its head.
Today, let’s examine the idea of “robbing the poor to feed the rich”.
We talked earlier this week about government spying reaching new heights, to the point where the United States government is keeping records of your every border crossing.
Despite hiding behind a veil of transparency and freedom, you actually have very few rights living in most western countries these days. Say one thing the wrong way or make one false move and you could face serious consequences.
Heck, much of the internet seems to want to send a guy to prison because he used a plastic clip to prevent the airline passenger in front of him from reclining into his knees. In a world where everyone is a criminal, the general public has been conditioned to want to send anyone to the hoosegow.
In today’s “free world”, there is one class of political elite – those who get rich making the rules – and there is the rest of the unwashed masses, those whom the legend of Robin Hood committed crimes for the benefit of.
And that small political elite is out to make sure that any crime committed by the little people does not go unpunished, be it a victimless crime or not.
Meanwhile, the robber barons at the top run free.
Consider the fact that Wall Street executives have spent billions of dollars rigging the stock market using supercomputers to engage in “high frequency trading” that pits the small-time investor against genius algorithms.
Or the fact that large banks in The Land of the Free and elsewhere manipulate the price of silver for the benefit of their insolvency. Again, screw the small time investor.
Even the politically well-connected Jon Corzine wasn’t brought to account for somehow losing billions of dollars of investor money.
When big crimes get committed by the guys at the top, their cronies in government look the other way. So much for “government transparency” in the developed world.
And even Bernie Madoff, who was prosecuted for his Ponzi scheme, is child’s play compared to the Ponzi scheme run by guys in government buildings.
However, when you or I so much as mouth off to the wrong paper pusher, all hell can break loose.
That’s because the government has forced practically every company doing business on its turf to be an unpaid spy for them.
Think about it. Governments love to hang up signs with messages like, “If you see something, say something”, co-opting Joe Citizen to help them fight some “war on terror” (the one they claim they have covered as long as you surrender all privacy and dignity to them).
In the same way, your local government has co-opted your banker, your accountant, and even the girl at the laundromat to report on your “suspicious” financial activities.
In the United States, for instance, suspicious financial activity is defined in such a way that practically turns the entire definition upside down.
The Bank Secrecy Act lays out three types of activity that various businesses and institutions must provide on their customers: currency transactions, purchase of monetary instruments, and the vaunted suspicious financial activity.
If you deal in cash, chances are you’re viewed as suspicious.
If you purchase a money order, you’re suspicious.
If you wire money overseas, you’re suspicious.
Unlike other countries that take bank secrecy seriously – or at least as seriously as they can in the wake of the US government trying to shut it down entirely – the US government has basically said that their definition of bank secrecy is having no secrecy.
Yeah, really. The Bank Secrecy Act will tell you that you’re entitled to nothing. It’s the government that gets to keep the secrets.
They’ve totally turned the idea of privacy on its ear in favor of a total financial surveillance state.
That’s because any time you take cash out of the bank, deposit cash into the bank, collect any decent amount of cash at your business, or send money to some “naughty place”, some paper pusher has to fill out a form on you.
And the person filling out the form for the government’s benefit isn’t even allowed to tell you.
These forms are called “Currency Transaction Reports” and “Suspicious Activity Reports”. For example, if you run a cash business and go to deposit the day’s earnings into your bank account, the bank will fill out a CTR.
Having a CTR filled out on you doesn’t necessarily mean much, so long as it is either an infrequent thing or you have a consistent pattern.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ready yourself for an audit in an era when governments have declared a War on Cash, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a criminal, either.
However, there is a rise in the filing of the second type of report: the Suspicious Activity Report.
As we frequently discuss, the government is constantly building up the number of ways they can add people to their enemies list. Just as Hitler, Robespierre, and Pol Pot kept hit lists of subversives, your government is building a case on anyone who it doesn’t like.
That’s why the government is leaning on businesses to file more Suspicious Activity Reports. I believe there is even a quota that banks have to fill out so many SARs in a given month, or the folks at FinCEN will come knocking on their door.
What constitutes suspicious activity these days?
Basically, anything “out of the usual”. Bankers in particular are pretty tight lipped about what they have to do regarding filing these forms, but the word is out that the government is leaning on these businesses to file as many as possible – or face the consequences.
However, you have to remember that we live in a time when most of the public is safely asleep, believing that everything their government does is “for their safety”. Every regulation is good and must be followed.
So imagine you’re the person who goes to your local bank to wire some money to a new offshore bank account you set up.
If your experiences are anything like mine, your US bank will ask you questions like “why would you want to wire money to Singapore?” or, more simply, “What’s Singapore?”.
Merely wanting to send money to an account offshore could be deemed as suspicious. Why? Because most people aren’t doing it.
If you’re like me and you have a pent-up desire to tell some teller that their silver-manipulating bank is insolvent and backed by a deposit insurance plan that barely has two nickels to rub together… you’re REALLY suspicious.
A few of my friends in the Bitcoin community have said that they’ve had trouble moving money from US checking and savings accounts to sites like Coinbase.
Considering the government’s prosecution of alternative currency users as “terrorists”, it would hardly be a stretch to suggest that anyone buying Bitcoins using their checking account would be deemed “suspicious”.
The formula for suspicious financial activity is simple: the government goes and reigns terror upon every low-level bank employee, all the way down to the guy handing out cash through a plastic window at a Western Union branch.
The government threatens these people with years in jail and tens of thousands of dollars in fines if they don’t report every single solitary person who might be a financial enemy of the state.
Then they go to those peoples’ bosses and corporate headquarters and get them to whip their employees into line, too.
They even run undercover stings where they send agents to banks and casinos to see if low-level employees are filling out all the right forms. Grunts have literally been busted for missing one opportunity to be an unpaid tattle tale to the feds.
The end result is that anything even remotely deviating from normal behavior is reported along with your Social Security number, tax ID, and all of your other personally identifying information, where it will sit in some spy database forever for when the authorities need to come knocking.
This is why moving your money to a safe place NOW is important. Just as in any other empire throughout history, the authorities build their case against their enemies slowly until they lower the boom entirely.
With laws like FATCA making offshore banks unpaid tattle tales for the IRS, as well, the time to act is now.
We’ve discussed before the likelihood that moving your money out of your country may be entirely illegal some day. Such capital controls have already been imposed in developed western countries in recent years.
Heck, in Argentina they can barely smuggle two pesos out of the country without facing the guillotine.
You may be viewed as “suspicious” now, but you will be an outright traitor in the future. Imagine what life will be like if the government sucks all of the money out of your bank account, or your retirement account, as part of some “financial reform” or “fairness” measure.
Or if they use it to pay off their debt. The possibilities are endless.
There is a reason governments are running around the clock to force every employee who so much as handles a dollar bill to report as many “suspicious transactions” as possible. It’s not out of sheet cat-like curiosity.
It’s because they want to steal from you, and thieves tend to be paranoid.