Cowards and Leaders

Russia’s invasion revealed big differences in how politicians deal with threats.

The president of Ukraine, when offered evacuation, said, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” He’s a leader.

By contrast, in Canada a few weeks before, when truckers staged a protest against COVID-19 rules, the cowardly Prime Minister Justin Trudeau felt so threatened by the peaceful protesters that he went to “a secret location.” Then he invoked Canada’s Emergencies Act.

That empowered authorities to forcibly break up the protest. In one instance, police rode into a crowd on horseback. People were trampled.

Nasty as that was, the part of the act that turned out most effective at stopping protest was freezing protesters’ bank accounts.

That’s similar to what the West is doing to Russian President Vladimir Putin now.

But Trudeau did it to his own people!

“You do have to have a bank account, really, to be able to live,” says George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki in my new video.

“Imagine if, during the Civil Rights era, Martin Luther King could have lost his bank account because he trespassed at a Woolworth’s counter.”

Of course, more people used cash then. Now we rely on banks and credit cards.

The easily frightened Trudeau justified his use of the Emergencies Act by saying the truckers received “disturbing amounts of foreign funding to destabilize Canada’s democracy.”

Really? The truckers were going to “destabilize Canada’s democracy”?

“I don’t know why you would say it’s ‘destabilizing democracy,'” says Zywicki. “This is democracy. Canadians trying to stand up for their rights.”

Fortunately, such abuse of power doesn’t happen in the United States.

Except it does.

In 2013, Zywicki reminds us, “Companies engaged in completely legal services found themselves losing access to bank accounts … being forced to shut down.”

It happened because the Obama administration launched Operation Choke Point, which encouraged banks to choke off accounts of pornographers, gambling businesses, payday loan operators, gun dealers and other businesses that they didn’t like.

Gun dealer Kat O’Connor did everything the government demanded — filled out the paperwork, got federal and state licenses, paid hefty fees. But suddenly, online payment processors wouldn’t deal with her. She then tried companies like Stripe, PayPal and Square. “It always ended up with an email saying they were closing my accounts,” she told me. She assumes the blacklisting was “a backdoor attempt at gun control.”

It probably was.

Choke Point continued until Donald Trump was elected.

But O’Connor is still blacklisted. Once government labels you a problem, the bureaucrats may choke off your finances forever.

That’s infuriating.

But part of my job is taking the other side. So, I said to Zywicki, banks are private businesses, lending their own money. Why should they lend to people they don’t like? Private businesses can make whatever choices they choose.

Zywicki had a good answer: Banks are not really private businesses. “There are barriers to entry. You have to get permission to start a new bank. … The financial services industry is so intertwined with government.”

That government connection means bureaucrats who regulate banks can silence government’s critics by cutting off access to their money. In Canada, protesting truckers resisted pressure from police and politicians for weeks. But once Trudeau froze their money, that was the beginning of the end of their protest.

When governments can de-bank you, you are not really free.

“We need to tolerate people saying things we don’t like and separate that from their ability to make a living,” says Zywicki. “We’ve merged those two things. That’s a very big threat to the free society.”

11 thoughts on “Cowards and Leaders

  1. I agree Justin Trudeau is a coward with no ability to lead a country. Turning on his own people. I really appreciate your comparison to MLK protests in the USA. citizens need to be able to voice their concerns.

    1. the insurrection held our capital hostage 2 plus weeks….It was a democratically elected government and a group that wanted it removed! Yes trudeau is a weak fool but I do agree with how our government dealt with the insurrection

      1. You obviously don’t understand the meaning of the word insurrection. The words you are looking for are “peaceful protest”

  2. The National Consumer Law Center said this about Operation Choke Point in September 2015:
    “The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Operation Choke Point is aimed at banks and payment processors that help scammers to take money out of victims’ bank accounts despite clear evidence of fraud. DOJ has brought four Operation Choke Point cases in the past two years against banks or payment processors that helped scammers to take payments from consumers despite clear evidence of fraud.
    “Operation Choke Point is focused only on illegal activity. Some gun dealers, pawn shops, and payday lenders claim that DOJ is forcing banks to close the accounts of legal businesses that it disapproves. That is simply not true. Banks close accounts all the time for a number of unrelated reasons, often confidential. For example, anti-money laundering efforts can impact accounts with a lot of cash deposits or international transactions. DOJ does not regulate banks or, other than in its enforcement actions against scam operations, tell banks to close accounts.

    “The clear evidence of DOJ’s real mission is found not in unsubstantiated conspiracy theories but rather in the four cases DOJ has brought: all against those rare banks or payment processors that
    willingly helped scammers illegally take money out of their victims’ bank accounts. This is vital work that must continue and should be supported by the public, legislators, and the financial industry.”

  3. We have Biden who’s just blaming Putin for the price of gas. (Uhmmmmm hello we have huge oil reserves in the US). Putin who has his family in hiding. Zelenskyy is fighting along side his people. Seems to be in numerous “photo ops” a day as well.

  4. If you protest by breaking an unjust law, you will have to risk arrest and imprisonment. If enough people support your position, you may succeed in overwhelming the system, and getting the law changed, ie the civil rights struggle. However, there has to be restrictions on the government’s power to harm their citizens, ie not using deadly force against protesters. The application of the “Wars Act” by Trudeau was a gross miss use of that act (in my opinion), not consistent to the intent of the act. If the electorate agrees, then they can dump the Liberal party. The Americans will have the same option in the next election also. Unfortunately, the consequences of Trudeau’s incompetence pales in comparison to that of the current elected officials in the US.

  5. I enjoyed this article & agree with what you pointed out. Thank you

    I have a question I can not get a true answer to:
    Why did our gas prices go up & crazy at the pump days before Biden ban Russia oil imports?

    If you could answer this for me I’d appreciate it.

  6. Respectfully John I disagree with parts of your well written article. I think Mr. Trudeau was referring to the negative impact on the economies of Canada and the United States. Secondly, if you are stating that Trudeau’s act was cowardly, what do you call NATO and the Biden administration’s failure to act with respect to a no fly zone and the refusal to supply fighter jets to the Ukraine? As a loyal citizen of our country, I am ashamed we will not stand up to this international bully and call his bluff. Thank you for your always insightful articles

  7. Interesting that there was no mention of Trump descending into the bunker while a small and peaceful protest was met with overwhelming force on the part of the WHCP, so that he could walk across the street without any sort of view of same protestors, to hold a bible upside down. If you’re going to draw comparisons between the behaviors of leaders during dissent, you don’t this that’s germane?

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