For this Friday, we’d like to celebrate with five quick celebrations of freedom. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the news these days and feel that the world is on a downward track to oblivion (who are you voting for in November: bad, or worse?). Even though blood is what sells, we thought we’d end the week on a positive note by highlighting some of the more celebratory stories we have encountered. It’s good to know there are still lots of instances of increased human freedoms despite everything else going on.
A Civil Forfeiture Victory
For those not familiar, civil forfeiture is when the government decides it has the right to grab property or money that belongs to an individual. Usually, this occurs when an individual is pulled over or discovered to have large amounts of cash. Law enforcement often assumes the worst and confiscates the cash, subscribing to a guilty-until-proven-innocent philosophy. The government is many cases does not have to even prove the owner’s guilt )or even bring charges) in order to keep the property. Critics (which should include everyone!) of civil forfeiture note that departments often seem to be on the lookout for large assets to seize as a way to raise revenue. It often affects cash-only businesses, such as restaurants, often with the least ability (time, resources) to fight the red tape that allowed their money to be stolen in the first place or to recover their property from the government.
In a recent case, The Institute for Justice launched a case on behalf of a Burmese Christian rock band against police in Oklahoma—and the case was dropped in record time—that same day. In this case, the band was raising money for charities in Burma and Thailand and was found with $53,000 of cash in their car. Although no drugs were found in the car, police jumped to the conclusion that the band had made that money selling drugs, and seized the group’s assets.
According to the Institute for Justice, Oklahoma has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws: in some cases, they can keep 100% of the proceeds from these forfeitures. This case required international outreach and knowledge of the law. We’re glad, as always, for organizations like the Institute for Justice, fighting for rights and reform that support individual freedom, property rights, and due process.
HumanProgress.org is a fun site to read if you are looking for reminders of all that is good in the world. A favorite section of the site is the “data” feature, in which you can access interactive maps that compare various elements of human progress over the last several decades. For instance, you can view this handy chart to see how deaths from cancer among males has been declining.
And speaking of human progress, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recognize this week as the 30th anniversary of the release of Labyrinth, starring David Bowie, of course. At Freedom Forge Press, we love stories almost as much as we love freedom (which is why we believe freedom-themed stories are so vital!). Labyrinth is such a fun, whimsical film while still fulfilling all the tick-boxes of an archetypal journey. We especially like how protagonist Sarah falls prey to her life of relative privilege but learns by the end to appreciate what she has.
And Speaking of Appreciating What We Have…
We enjoyed reading in Reason magazine that in absolute terms, the upper-middle class has been growing since 1979. There seems to be a myth perpetuated by vote-grabbing politicians in this country that Americans are getting poorer and it’s the fault of the rich. But the numbers just don’t support that.
And thinking about it, we have made progress in the last forty years. Computers used to be room-sized devices for geeky men in laboratories. Now, almost everyone can afford one, and they’re small enough to fit on your wrist. We can access information in record time, and we can usually acquire food, gas, and entertainment on-demand without shortages or lines.
As much as we hate the idea, we sometimes feel that Americans don’t or won’t appreciate what they have until it’s gone.
There’s really nothing more we need to say