I am in the debt collection business. About a year ago, I came across a guy who liked to file these pleadings filled with jargon jammed together in a sort of pseudolegal word salad. I pushed along, got my judgment, he went to jail shortly thereafter on an unrelated matter, and I closed my file. I didn’t give him a whole lot of thought; the world has a lot of crazy people, and in my business, I see more than my fair share. But, then, last week, I got more pseudolegal word salad from a different person, and started to investigate.
What I’ve been seeing is apparently called “Redemption” among its practitioners. The “tell” that you’re in this particular rabbit hole is bizarre, completely out of context references to UCC-1 financing statements. If you try to follow explanations of what this is about from proponents, you’ll just get a headache. Mercifully, a guy named Mark Pitcavage distilled the theory – at least what they were saying about 10 years ago. Pitcavage is apparently a historian of sorts with respect to militia and other right wing extremist groups.
The basic idea, so far as there is coherence to it, relies on the dissolution of the Union following Southern secession; creation of a sort of government corporation which, via the 14th Amendment, created ‘citizens’ as a sort of involuntary asset. The Federal Government secretly went bankrupt in 1933 and then pledged the labor of all citizens by depositing their birth certificates with the Department of Commerce.
Fortunately, this servitude (and many other debts!) can be resisted by filing a UCC financing statement as to one’s person and all of one’s possessions. This has something to do with — and honestly, I lose the thread here — the notion that every person is sort of bifurcated into a strawman and a real person. The strawman is the thing that’s enslaved collateral pledged to government servitude. The ‘real person’ is independent of that obligation. By filing the UCC financing statement against the strawman and all of the person’s present and future possessions, the real person becomes a creditor with a security interest in the strawman and possessions. The filing turns you from “U.S. Citizen” to an “American Sovereign of the Republic of the United States.”
Apparently the UCC filing is supposed to create a superior security interest to and probably nullifies debts alleged by your ordinary creditors and even claims by the U.S. Government such as taxes and traffic tickets. Oh, and in any case, currency issued by the U.S. Government isn’t “real money” which matters . . . somehow. Again, I lose the thread, but it has something to do with silver and gold. (And, to give you a glimpse of my rich mental life, this prompted a vision of the snowman from Rudolph as a militia member singing “Silver & Gold.”)
Poking around, I see that this is a matter of at least passing discussion among Ron Paul supporters. Some in that discussion thread were posting links to why this was a load of bunk and, rationally, asking for examples of where this has worked. Ever. Some were responding by dismissing any contradictory source as unreliable. And others were promoting the idea, obviously trying to sell some kind of “system.”
The practical upshot of this seems to be that practitioners will spend money on “redemption systems.” The more nefarious ones will file various kinds of bogus paperwork, liens and IRS notices of various kinds, that harasses government officials and creditors. And the more or less innocent dupes will walk into a shitstorm when they try to talk about this stuff in court.
It highlights an important feature of the law. In a lot of ways, the law is a fiction of consensus. Let’s suppose for a moment that these folks are “right” about what the law “really” is, in some Platonic sense. Being “right” doesn’t matter at all if judges, lawyers, lawmakers, law enforcement officers, and most of your fellow citizens don’t believe you are right. Without that consensus, the law is just words and papers unless and until a sufficient number of people, more or less voluntarily, agree to conform their actions to the words on that paper.
Anyway, with higher levels of economic stress and greater levels of anti-government activity, it will be interesting to see if I encounter more of these kinds of “Redemption” filings.