The Powerless Victims of Eminent Domain and Civil Forfeiture

May 3, 2016

Gillian Wong of the Associated Press reported on a lone, rural Chinese farmer that resisted selling his house to the local government so a new road could be completed.  The photo shows a house sitting in the middle of an almost finished road with pavement surrounding it.

If that had been in the United States, the house would have been gone long before the road was built—something Wong failed to mention is that this sort of thing happens in the U.S. all the time, and it seriously started during the decades when the roads and highways spread across the U.S. like spider webs.

In fact, local US governments do not need to wait for the owner of a house to agree to sell. It can force the owner to sell and then use the police/marshals to move him or her out using force if necessary.

I still remember reading about one incident in The Los Angeles Times that happened in Southern California during the craze to build freeways there.

The home owner was a combat veteran from World War II, Korea or Vietnam (I do not remember which war).  This vet refused to move out of his house even after the local government forced him to sell it.  He claimed he wasn’t being paid what he had invested in the house in improvements.

This American vet filled sandbags and stacked them against the walls of his house; he stocked up on canned foods, bullets, rifles and a gas mask along with a bullet-proof vest. No one was going to take his house away from him.

A swat team had to be called in, tear gas was used and the swat team broke into his house and swarmed him before he could shoot anyone. Then off to jail and court he went to be judged by a jury of his peers. I never did find out what the outcome of that trial was.

In the US, as states, cities and towns expand and improve roadways, sewer and power lines, communications and other system, local governments often secure or acquire access to private owned land. Without the government’s power to do so, the size and capability or public infrastructure would become inadequate to serve the needs of society (the people) and often in the U.S. the estimated value of a property does not match, because the government uses a different method to determine value not based on what the owner spent on the property but based on the average value of other properties that recently sold in the same community.  To the government, the value of the property is an estimated value. To the owner, it may be every penny he or she invested in the property.  – Find Law.com

In the U.S., this has been called legalized theft, and has been debated for decades. The law is called Eminent Domain, and it gives a government the power to buy private property for public use, usually with compensation to the owner.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia says: “Government power to take private property for public use without the owner’s consent. Constitutional provisions in most countries, including the U.S. (in the 5th Amendment to the Constitution), require the payment of just compensation to the owner. As a power peculiar to sovereign authority and coupled with a duty to pay compensation, the concept was developed by such 17th-century natural-law jurists as Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf.”

After all, they happen all the time and are often ignored by the American media because they are so common. If you doubt what I say, watch the three-part PBS program embedded in this post. In addition, U.S. citizens are now becoming frequent victims of Civil Forfeiture. If you are a citizen in a country with Civil Forfeiture laws similar to those in the U.S., you probably don’t want to watch the following video and risk losing sleep.

My question is why was this incident in China was worthy of media attention in the U.S., and I wonder if China’s media ever reports on similar incidents in America?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Stealing the Secrets of Tea Built a Bloody Empire

April 26, 2016

If you are interested in a real-life 19th century collision between the West and China, I highly recommend Sarah Rose’s nonfiction work For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History. You will discover that the British Empire and its merchants were successful, because they were more ruthless and devious than anyone else on the Earth.

In fact, you also might be interested in the list of wars that involved the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1701 – 2011. Be prepared for jaw dropping shock if you don’t already know this history, because the price of empire is lots of spilled blood.

At its greatest extent, the British Empire was known as the largest in history, and it covered more than thirteen-million square miles (20,921,472 square kilometers), which is about a quarter of the Earth’s total land area, and it ruled over more than 500 million people—a quarter of the world’s population at the time.

The British Empire spread the English language—not the United States that Donald Trump wants to make great again (whatever that means)—and English is the second most-widely spoken language in the world today  According to Statista.com, 1.5 billion people speak English, and Chinese, ranked second, is spoken by 1.1 billion.

But to make English the most spoken language on the planet, the British Empire became a thief and the largest drug cartel in human history.

In her book Sarah Rose wrote a fascinating story of Robert Fortune (1812 – 1880) and one of, if not the largest, acts of corporate espionage and theft in history. Her book is about how the British stole tea plants and the method of producing tea from China and successfully transplanted this industry to India.

For example, if you drink Darjeeling Tea from India, you are drinking a product that was a result of theft from China by Robert Fortune in the early half of the 19th century.

But there is much more to this story than the theft of tea from the country that may have invented it almost five thousand years ago. In fact, China is considered to have the earliest records of tea drinking, with recorded tea use in its history dating back to the first millennium BCE.

First, I want to dispel a misconception I discovered from a two-star Amazon reader review of the book that said, “I was a little skeptical about her comment in the notes ‘As this is a work of popular history, not a scholarly undertaking, I have avoided the use of footnotes and tried to steer clear of mentioning sources in the body of the text. Nevertheless, this is a work of nonfiction …’ ”

That unfair review left off the rest of Sarah Rose’s quote: “Nevertheless, this is a work of nonfiction, and anything in quotes comes from a letter, memoir, newspaper or other contemporaneous sources.

“I have relied heavily on Robert Fortune’s four memoires, his letters to the East India Company and other company documents housed in the British Library. Over five hundred books and documents were consulted in putting this project together.” (pg. 251, hardcover)

On page 227 of the hardcover, Rose wrote, “By the time the Chinese realized that Fortune had stolen an inestimable treasure from them, it was many years too late to remediate their loss. His theft helped spread tea to a wider world at lower prices.”

In addition, “Tea likewise revolutionized Britain’s capital and banking systems and influenced the rapid growth of trade networks in the Far East. It was instrumental in extending the reach of British colonialism as the empire expanded to include countries such as Burma, Ceylon, East Africa and others where tea could be grown …”

On page 178, we learn that, “It was through drug-based commercial enterprises such as the tea and opium trade that Britain became the greatest of all hegemonic empires. The British campaign to sell opium in China was tremendously profitable. … Britain’s all-conquering naval fleet was able to be constantly improved with newly minted capital from the sugar, tea and opium trades. Without opium, the India trade would not have flourished and without India, Britain’s post-Napoleonic global ascendency could well have collapsed.”

These few quotes do not do justice to Robert Fortune’s adventure in China. He successfully passed himself off as a citizen of the Qing Empire dressed in mandarin robes. He even had a queue, a braid of hair worn hanging down behind the head, sewn to his scalp and had his head shaved to match the style of the time.

“He eventfully became proficient enough with speaking Mandarin that he was able to adopt the local dress and move among the populous largely unnoticed. By shaving his head and adopting a ponytail, this rather gruff Scotsman was able to effectively blend in. So well in fact, that he was able to enter the forbidden city of Souchow (now Wuhsien) unchallenged.” Source: Planet Explorers.com

Besides being loaded with facts, this book is also an adventure and/or spy thriller based on a real person and his mission of intrigue—if caught, he would have been executed. To pull off the biggest heist of all time, Fortune traveled to areas of China that no foreigner had ever visited before, and his only companions were Chinese that he had bribed to work for him.

Today, tea is the most popular drink in the world in terms of consumption. Its consumption equals all other manufactured drinks in the world combined– including coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, and alcohol. In fact, China is still the leading tea producer in the world, and in 2010 China produced 1,467,467 tons (32.5% of the world’s tea) compared to second place India at 991,180 tons (21.9%). Third place went to Kenya at 399,000 tons (8.83%).

In addition, consumption of tea in 2010 grew at a faster rate than global production. In the United States alone in 2011, the US tea industry’s gross revenue through all foodservice and retail outlets was greater than $27-billion (and twelve countries consumed more tea than the US). That makes tea more popular than Hollywood, because ticket sales for the US domestic movie market were only $11.1 billion in 2015.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Will the real Emperors of Greed please Stand

March 16, 2016

From several pieces I’ve read in the U.S. media and a few comments I’ve received on this Blog, it appears that some people think the Chinese are the emperors of greed, but they aren’t.

In fact, greed is everywhere — even, GASP, in the United States.

For example, ABC’s Good Morning America reported, “Phantom Debt Collectors from India Harass Americans, Demand Money.”

GMA reported, “Hundreds of thousands of cash-strapped Americans have been targeted by abusive debt collectors operating out of overseas call centers suspected of links to organized crime in India, law enforcement officials told ABC News.”

Working through call centers in India, the commission estimates that the criminals have dialed at least 2.5 million calls, persuading already cash-strapped victims to send them more than $5 million.

Another example is A New Crime Wave of Identity Theft: Is Your Child in Danger.

“It’s undetected and undetectable. They’ll use your child’s Social Security number with a different name and a different birth date.” In fact, over several years, 57,000 cases of child identity theft was reported to the Federal Trade Commission. A new report from All Clear ID estimates that one in 10 U.S. children are victims.

“Olivia McNamara was starting her freshman year at Vanderbilt University when she applied for her first credit card. After being rejected twice, she did some digging and found that someone had stolen her identity and had run up massive debt – to the tune of $1.5 million. When she was 9, someone had stolen her Social Security number and set up false identities and more than 42 accounts. All of them had defaulted.”

Then in June 2012, the AARP Bulletin reported (on page 20), Locked out of Luck by Sid Kirchheimer. The piece said, “The overwhelming majority of locksmiths with an 800 phone number are not legitimate … In reality, the pro arrives in a van with no fixed address and a scam in mind. … The work is faulty plus expensive—often $1,000 or more, and demanded in cash.”

AARP even has a book out by fraud expert Doug Shadel, Outsmarting the Scam Artist. Shadel and a team of scientists interviewed thousands of victims and dozens of scam artists who revealed their trade secrets.

The Federal Trade Commission warns, “Consumer frauds pose a threat to consumers and the economy. Even the most wary and sophisticated consumers may fall victim to fraudulent offers – in the mail, in the media, and on the Internet.”

The FTC report stated that in the year prior to the survey the number of victims of the most common types of consumer fraud reached almost 36 million with 53 million incidents.

In fact, in 2010, the Better Business Bureau reported, “$2.9 trillion is lost to fraud annually.” In a decade that adds up to $29 trillion or almost twice the National Federal debt.

So, next time you read in the media or in a Blog that China, or any other country, is filled with crooks and corruption, remember that China is not alone. Don’t stereotype anyone. After all, the Chinese were not behind the 2008 financial crisis that cost the U.S. economy more than $22 Trillion in addition to nine-million jobs, and that does not  count what the rest of the world lost. – U.S. Government Accountability Office

One last thought. The 2008 financial crises caused nine-million working Americans to lose their jobs in a few months, but the Economic Policy Institute reports that the U.S. trade deficit with China cost only 3.2 million American jobs between 2001 and 2013 (12 years or about 258 thousand jobs a year).  In addition, a recent report from PBS.org and the BBC says that one in three jobs today will be lost to software, robots and smart machines by 2025—not to China.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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What happens when any Form of Government becomes destructive and many people suffer?

March 1, 2016

I was recently asked, “What can China learn from the US political model? American government is looking more and more like ‘of the 1% by the 1% and for the 1%’!”

My answer follows: If China learns anything from what is happening in the U.S., it’s to keep a balance between socialism and capitalism and not let socialism dominate capitalism and capitalism dominate socialism.

Capitalism benefits the 1% – everyone cannot be a winner even though many of the wealthy think everyone can make it like they did and they look down on and discriminate against everyone who doesn’t make it. After all, everyone has the right to work harder to make it, right, even on poverty wages with no benefits?

Socialist programs benefits the other 99% where many can end up suffering horribly without a safety net.

I’m not talking about pure socialism where the state—representing the people—own everything: the land and everything built on and under it, the means of production and the retail sector that sells what’s produced. I’m talking about social safety-net programs like affordable and/or free universal health care for every citizen no matter how much they earn, a livable wage, Social Security for when people are old and retire, unemployment insurance for people who have lost their jobs, labor unions that represent the workers, and disability insurance for workers injured on the job and even from accidents outside of work, who can no longer work because of the injury.

The capitalists, the 1%, will moan and groan because of these social programs that protect 99% of the people—the workers that helped make the 1% wealthy and powerful. The 1% will moan and groan because enough is never enough and the social programs that protect the 99% cut into the profits and the growth of their wealth and power. Angry, the 1% will bribe as many leaders in the country as possible to get rid of the socialist programs that protect the 99%. The corruption and lies will be rampant, because money buys power and power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Wealth and power is similar to cancer and to contain that disease and protect the 99%, the government must walk a fine line to keep the balance.  The 99% must be stopped from destroying the 1% and the 1% must be stopped from causing the 99% from suffering due to the greed of the 1%.

The 99% can cause tyranny and suffering too because the mob is dangerous and powerful when united against tyranny, and the 1% can quickly become the tyranny behind the suffering caused to the 99%. That is what is happening in the United States today. The 1% is systematically attacking every public sector socialist program that protects the quality of life for the 99%.

The U.S. Declaration of Independence, that is not the law of the United States—the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights is the law that guides America—says it best:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

A government’s struggle to keep that balance between capitalism and socialism never ends because the temptations to lean toward capitalism’s 1% are many, and it has been said through the ages that every person has a price and can be bought one way or the other. Government also must resist the cry of the mob, loud and organized factions of the 99%, that demand more from the social safety net. In the end, it is up to knowledgeable, honest voters to help keep that balance in place.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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What is the risk to Outspoken Nonconformists in China?

February 17, 2016

To find out what might really happen to outspoken nonconformists in China, let’s examine what happened with a few high profile cases in the recent past and ignore any headlines designed to paint China’s leaders as evil.

According to the record, none of China’s dissidents since 1976 have been executed, and only two have been given a life sentence in prison: Wang Bingzhang and Ilham Tohti.

What about a few of the thirty-three who have been arrested and served or are still serving time in a Chinese prison? Oh, 33 is 0.00000243% of China’s population of 1.357+  billion people.

  1. In 1989, Tan Baiqiao was arrested for spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda; inciting counterrevolutionary activities; defection to the enemy, and treason— but due to international pressure, Tan was released and reached the U.S. in 1992.
  2. In 2002, Cai Lujun, a businessman and writer was arrested for “incitement to subversion and eventually sought political asylum in Taiwan in 2007.
  3. In 1995, Wang Dan was sentenced to 11 years in prison but was released on medical parole to the US in 1998 and is currently living in Taiwan.
  4. In 1998, Wang Youcai was sentenced to 11 years in prison for subversion but was released and exiled to the United States in 2004.
  5. In 1979, Wei Jingsheng an electrician was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison for passing military secretes.  He was released from prison for medical reasons and deported to the US in 1997.

What about other countries? There are laws in most countries that support what China does with its political dissidents.

For instance, in the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. & 2385, “Advocating overthrow of Government by force or violence”:

“Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

“Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

“Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

“Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.”

In addition, on May 4, 2012, the New York Times got it right with this headline, For China, a Dissident in Exile Is One Less Headache Back Home.

The NY Times said, “Based on past experience, China is often all too pleased to see its most nettlesome dissidents go into exile, where they almost invariably lose their ability to grab headlines in the West and to command widespread sympathy both in China and abroad.”

In fact, if you read the US law carefully, it sounds like it is also illegal to advocate the overthrow of another country’s government—just read the first paragraph in bold print above.

Moreover, fifty-two countries are led by authoritarian governments ruling over more than a third of humanity, so if you have to live under an authoritarian government, which kind is best?  After all, everyone cannot live in Hong Kong, which is considered the freest economy in the world.  Hong Kong (part of China) is followed by Singapore, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. The U.S. ranks tenth of more than 150 nations.  China is ranked 138. Sources: The Freest Nations on Earth and Heritage.org

And what country puts more of its citizens in prison—China or the United States? The answer might surprise you. The United States has 698 people locked up for every 100,000 compared to China’s 119 per 100,000. – prisonstudies.org

In addition, according to Foreign Policy magazine, Joshua E. Keating, “found that single-party states—think China and Vietnam—are the most responsive to citizens’ demands, providing a higher quality of governance … the Chinese Communist Party has not lasted through the use of force alone, but also by making popular investments in China’s infrastructure and social services,” which has reduced poverty from more than 80% in 1949 to less than 13% today and increased the average lifespan from 35 years of age in 1949 to more than 75 today.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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What happens to the alleged culprits of Food Fraud in China? Part 2 of 2

December 23, 2015

If you read Part One of this two part series, you are probably thinking it isn’t safe to eat in China so you will stick to American food.

However, Wall Street Journal.com reported, “Struggles with food safety are not a specifically Chinese problem. Many countries, including the U.S. and Japan, have gone through similar growing pains in the food industry, says Wu Ming, a professor at Beijing University’s school of public health.”

Professor Ming is correct. Down to Earth.org reports, “Every day in the US about 200,000 people become sick, 900 are hospitalized and 14 die (that’s more than 5,000 annually) due to food borne illnesses (and few if any people are punished for these deaths). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about one quarter of the American population suffers from food poisoning each year.”

It’s just business as usual and those food deaths are collateral damage on the way to making profits.

New U.S. Laws for food safety cover all food except meat, poultry and some egg products and there are other exceptions too. In fact, the CDC.gov reports, “Every year, about 48 million of us, roughly one in six people in the United States, get sick from eating contaminated food—it could be you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, or other loved ones.”

And if you believe China is not doing anything about food safety, think again. I Googled “arrests in China for food safety”.

The first hit for 2014 from Food Safety News reported, “Chinese Police Arrest More Than 100 People for Selling Contaminated Pork.”

In 2013, The Guardian reported, “China arrests 900 in fake meat scandal.”

In addition, the U.S. is no saint. Sustainable Business Forum.com says, “Unlike the U.S., China arrests Food Safety Violators.”

Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News.com recently reported, “Current statutes (in the U.S.) do not provide sufficient criminal sanctions for those who knowingly violate our food safety laws,” said Leahy, who has become an outspoken advocate of food safety reform. “Knowingly distributing adulterated food is merely a misdemeanor right now, and the Sentencing Commission has found that it generally does not result in jail time.”

In conclusion, if you are in the food industry in China and want to take short cuts regarding food safety to boost profits while possibly killing people along the way, the United States is a safer place to commit murder while making a profit, because in China, you might go to prison and even be executed.

Return to or Start with Part 1

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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What happens to the alleged culprits of Food Fraud in China? Part 1 of 2

December 22, 2015

In 2011, Wall Street Journal.com reported, “Ink, dye, bleach and toxic chemicals … have been found recently in food products in China, reigniting fears over food safety despite repeated government pledges to crack down on tainted eats.”

Sounds bad, but don’t judge China before reading this entire two-part series to discover that China is not alone in the struggle to make food safer to eat.

It isn’t as if China’s government is not trying to improve food safety. In 2011, Al-Jazeera’s Melissa Chang reported from Beijing about China’s government vowing to improve food safety laws. In fact, according to Melissa Chang, more than 2,000 people across the country were arrested for failing to meet food safety standards.

The Wall Street Journal said, “One of the biggest issues is the drive to make a buck at any cost, says Lester Ross, a Beijing-based attorney with U.S. law firm Wilmer Hale. Some companies see that by using additives, they can cut overhead costs or boost profit margins, and they merely aren’t thinking about the affects the additives will have on consumers, Mr. Ross says.”

Melissa Chang demonstrated how a chemical sauce to turn meats such as pork into beef can change any meat that isn’t beef into beef so the enterprising capitalist can charge more and increase profits.

Is that capitalism at work?

Since living in China means awareness of such trickery, “Many Chinese,” Chang says, “pay a premium to know exactly where the food they eat comes from.”

Chang then talked about an organic food cooperative in the suburbs of Beijing, which was established by families to buy directly from organic farmers and the project was successful.

However, Chang said, “Even the best intentions (may) go awry.” Organic in China doesn’t mean the food would qualify as organic outside of China since so much of the air and water is polluted there.  It is a challenge to grow quality produce.  Achieving better standards will take years.”

What about food safety in the U.S.? Continued on December 23, 2015, in Part 2

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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