Reporting from Santiago, Chile
“There is no bar to this nation’s holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant.” — US Senator Carl Levin
My dictionary defines the word “sociopath” as “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that someone who tries to award himself the power to lock people up indefinitely, without due process, is expressing extreme antisocial attitudes. And quite possibly a lack of conscience.
Psychologists might deem such an individual a sociopath. Yet in the Land of the Free, they’re elected to the United States Congress.
This is the world of Carl Levin, a Senator from Michigan who championed the indefinite military detention clause in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act.
In Levin’s world, it’s perfectly acceptable to hold US citizens on US soil without charges or trial, based merely on the suspicion of terrorist activity in the sole discretion of the government.
This, of course, is a rather convenient position for someone who has been in government for nearly the totality of his adult life. At age 78, he’s been firmly ensconced in the US Senate since 1979 and was a politician at the local level prior.
Mr. Levin is now at it again.
In our ongoing conversations, you and I frequently discuss the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)– a small part of a 2010 law which I typically describe as the ‘most arrogant piece of legislation ever passed.’
FATCA imposes additional reporting requirements for US citizens with foreign financial accounts, as well as heaps of obligations for foreign financial institutions.
FATCA casts an enormous net, affecting banks, brokers, and even gold depositories. And its requirements are so onerous that, as I reported last Friday, even Swiss logistics giant ViaMat has dropped US citizens from storing gold abroad.
The law itself was tiny… a mere 18 pages. But the IRS regulations which came out of it total more than 500 pages. It’s unreal. Absurd, really.
Apparently, though, 500 pages of oppressive regulations aren’t enough for Mr. Levin. And his new bill, S.268 “CUT Loopholes Act” aims to raise the bar even higher.
Section 102 of the bill, entitled “STRENGTHENING THE FOREIGN ACCOUNT TAX COMPLIANCE ACT”, proposes a number of increased reporting requirements for both banks and individuals.
There is also a provision to expand the FATCA net even further by defining “non-FATCA institutions”. Essentially, this would give the Treasury Department all the domestic legal authority they need to bully anyone in the world. (Again, anti-social behavior?)
The bill goes on for nearly 100 pages, covering everything from increased penalties (up to $10 million) to simplifying the process for the government to confiscate your assets.
Levin is really pulling out all the stops to make it as difficult as possible to do business overseas, and to hold assets in a safe, stable jurisdiction abroad. The end result will be fewer options to protect your savings, and more government control.
If passed, this bill will be one small step for Levin, one giant leap towards capital controls.