Those colonists would be shocked to learn that far bolder government seizures are carried out on a daily basis today, using a process called civil forfeiture — which the Justice Department is now expanding. On a federal level, this means Uncle Sam can seize your property if officials believe it’s connected to a crime — even if you haven’t been charged. Worse, the same officials who take your stuff are entitled to keep it, which only encourages asset seizure.
Civil forfeiture is big business. In 2014, the Justice Department reported $4.5 billion in forfeiture revenue (both criminal and civil; about 87 percent of all forfeitures conducted by DOJ are civil).
That doesn’t include substantial amounts confiscated by the Treasury Department or by countless lower-level law enforcement agencies. I would report the amount seized by state and local officials, except transparency is so poor that reliable stats don’t exist.