TSA Gets Wise To Precious Metals Owners

We’re mad as hell this morning…and more than a little sad…and it’s not just this relentless Seattle grey…

Yesterday, we gave our take on how college has thrown a monkey wrench into the wealth-creation machine that used to be America. One Whiskey Shooter responded:


“You put it so clearly and so well I just cannot let it go without thanking
you. Yes, you are absolutely correct. College, for most people,
unfortunately, is a total waste of time.

“For instance, my son, who was the best auto mechanic in the Twin Cities, had
to go back to school to get a degree in order to teach auto mechanics. Yes,
he did that, but at what cost? And with what did it really serve him? He
still has the same abilities as an auto mechanic and the same abilities as
a teacher. He just was FORCED by the system to get a degree he does not
need, and he is now, according to his principal, the best auto teacher she

This Shooter, with eerie prescience, then switched gears. And hit right upon the subject that would bedevil us this morning…

“Changing the subject, we just returned from a trip from the Twin Cities to
Phoenix, and then Dallas, and then home — over 4,000 miles. We drove because I did not
want to deal with the TSA in the airports. Well, guess what? I got stopped
by the TSA in Texas. Yes, I didn’t have to get out of my car, but I saw
people asked to get out ahead of me.

“We are living in a police state, and it is getting worse. It isn’t just the
waste of getting a college education people don’t need. It is the waste of

government growing at an expanding clip and clamping down on everything we
used to take for granted. Freedom is evaporating very rapidly.

“Robert K in Minnesota”

These words were on our mind this morning as we read this dispatch from congressman Ron Paul:

“If you thought the ‘Transportation Security Administration’ would limit itself to conducting unconstitutional searches at airports, think again. The agency intends to assert jurisdiction over our nation’s highways, waterways and railroads as well. TSA launched a new campaign of random checkpoints on Tennessee highways last week, complete with a sinister military-style acronym — VIP(E)R — as a name for the program.

“The real tragedy occurs when Americans incrementally become accustomed to this treatment on the roads, just as they have become accustomed to it in the airports.

“Worse, some people are lulled into a false sense of security and are actually grateful for this added police presence! Should we really hail the expansion of the police state as an enhancement to safety? I submit that an attitude of acquiescence to TSA authority is thoroughly dangerous, un-American and insulting to earlier freedom-loving generations who built this country.

“I am certain people will complain about this, once they have to sit in stopped traffic for a few extra hours to allow for random searches of cars. However, I am also certain it merely will take another ‘foiled’ plot to silence many people into gladly accepting more government mismanagement of safety.”

VIPR is Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response. It’s also the neck of the camel whose nose first got under the tent when the feds took over airport security.

We don’t mean to sound alarmist, good patron. But we are at a loss today. The security state is advancing inexorably. The feds are inserting themselves everywhere on the pretext of protecting us from “evildoers who wish to harm us for our freedoms.”

We also don’t mean to seem too snarky here, but is the government’s plan to make the supposed freedom-haters lose interest in harming us by removing all our privacy and liberty?

We spoke to Daily Reckoning co-editor Joel Bowman about this during this morning’s conference call. Joel is from Australia and spends most of his time in Argentina these days.

“You know how when you haven’t seen a friend’s or relative’s young child for a long while,” he said, “how you are amazed how much that child has grown and changed since you last saw them? While the people who’ve been around the child the whole time have a hard time noticing anything at all?

“Well, that’s how I felt when I arrived in an American airport.

“My girlfriend and I were in Houston recently. Every few minutes, this female voice would come over the public address system and tell everyone that any comments or jokes deemed inappropriate by TSA agents could result in detainment and formal charges.

“So if you say something the omnipresent federal agents don’t like, you’re in trouble…

“As horrifying as that was, what really stuck with me was how everyone seemed just fine with that. They read their papers and sipped their coffees like this creepy nonsense was the most normal thing in the world…”

Your own Whiskey editor thought of the old story of a frog in a pot of water, slowly…ever so slowly…brought to boiling. Modern scientific experimentation has proven that is purely metaphorical, however. Real frogs tend to jump out of water pretty abruptly as soon as they get uncomfortable…even as metaphorical frogs remain in the water and die, so the point can’t be made.

So David Gonigam, co-editor of The 5 Min. Forecast, provided a quote from They Thought They Were Free instead. The quote came from a college professor in 1930s Germany:

“The crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter…

“To live in the process is absolutely not to notice it — please try to believe me — unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained, or on occasion, ‘regretted’…

“Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

“Suddenly, it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we did nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood… Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.”

We may already be compromised beyond repair. We’re accepting the federal government’s spying on us in more and more places.

Technology allows them to monitor more and more of our activities. This could become especially troublesome as their monetary policies drive us deeper into economic crisis…and the feds decide that those taking the steps to shield themselves from the worst of it are actually enemies of the state…

The federal government already sees fit to tax you on your “gains” from gold and silver price appreciation…even though that appreciation is actually the destruction of the dollar due to their deficit spending and central bank inflationary habits.

They have no problem vilifying short sellers during a stock market correction. Do you think they’d have a problem with labeling gold and silver buyers as hoarders who are undermining the U.S. dollar and economy…or with outlawing the ownership of gold and silver altogether?

Recall that for nearly 40 years between 1934 and 1971, it was, indeed, illegal to own gold in bullion form.

And it may not be too long before the federal government, again, takes a keen dislike to its subjects using gold and silver as money…

Alex Jones recently spoke with a fellow air passenger who was questioned by TSA agents. The man was a software engineer named Jeff. And he’d been stopped and questioned by TSA screeners about the $600 of silver coins he was carrying.

The screeners wanted to know if Jeff was collecting them as a hobby…or as an investment.

Jeff told them that he was simply planning to cash the coins in to use on his vacation, instead of dipping into his bank account. He was allowed to pass after the agents got to inspect the coins.

And then there is this sobering report from our friend Mac Slavo of SHTFplan blog:

“You may be under the impression that gold or silver coins could be mixed in with regular coinage and transported without knowledge by screeners, but a post on the TSA blog regarding an incident in St. Louis in March 2009 indicates that TSA agents are on the lookout for travelers who possess precious metals, especially if ‘suspicious activity is suspected.’

“‘On March 29th, a metal box containing a large amount of coins and cash was flagged for additional screening. Any large amount of metallic objects in one place (loose change or rolls of coins) appears as opaque images and is difficult and sometimes impossible to clear without being searched. I blogged about this type of search last October. If we can’t see through something on the X-ray, we have to take a closer look by opening the box/bag. Due to the contents, the passenger was taken to a private screening area, which is customary when screening money or high-dollar-value items such as jewelry.

“‘While it’s legal to travel with any amount of money you wish to carry when flying domestically, movements of large amounts of cash through the checkpoint may be investigated by law enforcement authorities if suspicious activity is suspected. As a general rule, passengers are required to cooperate with the screening process. Cooperation may involve answering questions about their property. A passenger who refuses to answer questions may be referred to appropriate authorities for further inquiry.’

“Source: TSA Blog [TSA.gov]

“This is nothing short of a policy of guilty until proven innocent. If you happen to be of a world and paradigm view that differs from the status quo, you are engaged in suspicious activity. And if you attempt to opt out by refusing to submit to additional screenings or questioning, then you get to join the millions of other people who are ‘on the list’ and will be, from that point forth, considered a domestic extremist. It’s as simple as that.”

Moving large amounts of cash, gold or silver through national borders can be tricky as it is. But now it seems that even flying around the country with too much on you can make you a target for suspicion and questioning.

And as we mentioned earlier, the TSA is moving into the highway business. We wonder if there will be a form of intra-national transportation — even in private vehicles — left where random citizens won’t be subject to stop and search. We also wonder what that could mean for savers of gold and silver if the official federal position on those metals sours.

The last thing we here at the Whiskey Bar want to do is raise any alarms before their time…to cry wolf, as it were…but we insist on keeping an eye out for trouble.

These developments don’t mean it’s the end of the world yet…but it does mean the nation is still headed in the wrong direction.

We worry that the government will not just take the country down the road of destruction. We also worry that they will make it increasingly difficult — perhaps even illegal — to take the steps necessary for the aware citizen to protect himself.

So we’re going to keep our ears to the ground…like scouts listening for those subtle vibrations that will inform us about the movements of an advancing enemy army. And we’ll try to stay one step ahead and make sure you do too.

To that end we’ve been toiling away at an idea that we’re sure will help. We’ve created a brand new report. We’ve created a new strategic partnership. All in order to help protect you from the coming money collapse…no matter what the government does…

Check out coming issues of Whiskey & Gunpowder on how to receive this report…which you will be getting for FREE as a member of the Whiskey Bar.


Gary Gibson

The Daily Reckoning