Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reader Snedcat alerts me to a news story about several states, most notably California, treating private property in safe deposit boxes like found money.

San Francisco resident Carla Ruff's safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked "owner unknown."

"I was appalled," Ruff said. "I felt violated."

Unknown? Carla's name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address -- a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too -- still does -- and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she's the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.

"They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed," Ruff said.
This story is hardly atypical, nor is can it be dismissed as a bureaucratic glitch in light of the clear purpose of policy changes pertaining to unclaimed property in recent years.
California law used to say property was unclaimed if the rightful owner had had no contact with the business for 15 years. But during various state budget crises, the waiting period was reduced to seven years, and then five, and then three. Legislators even tried for one year. Why? Because the state wanted to use that free [sic] money.
Oh, and these thefts are not restricted to the contents of safe deposit boxes. Given that the state is violating the principle that individuals have rights, I know I shouldn't be surprised by anything in this story, but I am still shocked.

A state comptroller in charge of "reforming" this immoral expropriation scheme sounds like his heart is in the right place, but he does not seem to question the propriety of laws such as the one that forces "[b]anks and other businesses ... to turn [unclaimed] property over to the state for safekeeping."

On Page 1 of this story, an attorney filing a class action suit against California is quoted as saying that his clients, "figured the safety-deposit box was safer than keeping it under the mattress..." As he states further, many of them were wrong.

-- CAV

----- In Other News -----

Here's a sober assessment of the significance of Japan's recent reclassification of the Fukushima Daiichi event as a CHERNOBYL LEVEL!!!! accident. From the posting: "For comparison, it's been estimated that the radiation released by the Fukushima reactors is 1/10th that released to the environment at Chernobyl."

I'm with Myrhaf. Income tax withholding, deductions, and refund checks are all social engineering. I've long thought that, until we phase out the income tax, it should be payable in full on April 15. Update: This is too good to pass up. "Is the tax code void for vagueness?" Read the whole thing.

I got a good chuckle at the end of this jar-based analogy about time management over a lifetime.

"James Williams needed a device that would destroy a burrowing animal and give an alarm so that it could be reset." His solution was simple and patentable, but in the words of Greg Ross, "a bit ... direct." Follow the link for an amusing drawing of the invention.


: Added update to blurb on income tax.


Kyle Haight said...

And that is why I bought a safe instead of using a bank safe deposit box. (Well, ok, it isn't -- you can't keep guns in a safe deposit box -- but it's another reason I feel good about having the safe.)

Gus Van Horn said...

And that's why I'll stick with my safe, although I had been considering a safe deposit box.