In a distressing sign of the times, the New Jersey government has turned to outright theft of people’s gift cards in the Garden State. As the Christian Science Monitor summarizes:

Pursuant to a law passed two years ago, the New Jersey Department of the Treasury will soon compel sellers to obtain the ZIP code of every buyer of a gift card in order to enable the state to expropriate the value of the unused card as “unclaimed property” after two years.

Not surprisingly, “American Express has responded by pulling its gift cards from pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores.”

This should go without saying, but apparently it must be said in today’s world: Providers and buyers of gift cards have a right to mutually agree to the terms of the purchase. The state has no legitimate business setting expiration dates or seizing the balances.

The reason we need government is to protect our rights (including our right to contract) and to protect us from thieves and others who would initiate force against us. But these days government increasingly commits theft rather than protects us from it.

The citizens of New Jersey and beyond must insist that government protect rather than violate their rights. If the nonsense of government stealing people’s gift cards today is not condemned as an example of perfectly unlimited government, what will government be taking without protest ten years from now? Don’t think for a moment that “It’s only a gift card, Mr. Jones” can’t become “It’s only your factory, Mr. Jones.”

As Ayn Rand warned, “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow.”

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Image: Creative Commons by Aranami

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