Stop the Shakedowns: Turning the Tables on Government Tyranny

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It would be hard to imagine that any person in our country over the age of 18 has not been exposed to the activities of government enforcement personnel that either threatened to take their money over some minor detail, or actually did initiate the process against them. Much of the money taken in this fashion is used to create infrastructure for only one purpose: to take even more.

Stop the Shakedowns was created to remove the financial motivation of enforcement, leaving a more judicious approach to law and code enforcement.

Quite simply, there is no motivation to steal if the thief cannot keep the money… and yes, in this case, government is the thief, even though they sanction their activities with laws that they themselves create. A legal provision that makes this type of thievery acceptable under the law does not overcome the moral obligation of government to represent and work for the people… not to control and steal from the people.

Stop the Shakedowns is working to introduce two ballot initiatives, beginning in Colorado and spreading to many other states in the USA for the 2018 ballot. The first initiative is called the “Anti-Shakedown Initiative” and, while the verbiage is still being perfected and will be reviewed and updated most likely by the Secretary of State, the initial verbiage is:

“In the interest of peaceful cooperation between the people of the State of Colorado, and all enforcement entities within the state of Colorado, any and all fines or penalties are not required to be paid to the fining entity. All fines, forfeitures and penalties are fully satisfied with a payment equal to the fine, forfeiture or penalty by the penalized individual or corporate entity either in restitution to an actual victim of the act, or in the absence of a victim, to a registered and legitimate charity of the penalized person’s choice anywhere in the United States of America.”

The ultimate goal is to eliminate needless enforcement for profit, although there may be other benefits as well. While most violations that government uses as a basis for collection do not have victims, this law includes a provision to victims to be reimbursed instead of paying a fine to a government entity. Also, having the remaining money be donated to charity might actually reduce government taxation and redistribution for helping the needy, because this might be better handled by a charity. Another benefit of eliminating enforcement for cash is that it would reduce much of the standing anger between the people and law enforcement – honestly, when you drive by a police officer, does your instinct tell you to be thankful for being “protected” or to be wary of a shakedown? In addition, I highly doubt that the brave men and women in law enforcement chose their careers to become armed collectors for the state. This initiative promotes general peace and well-being in addition to all the other benefits.

This state-sponsored theft will not die without a fight. It is also prudent that we introduce the second ballot initiative – the Anti-Civil Asset Forfeiture Initiative, which is initially crafted as:

“Effective immediately, The State of Colorado and all government jurisdictions within the state of Colorado shall not deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Civil Asset Forfeiture is hereby prohibited in the State of Colorado.”

One would hopefully notice that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was quoted in this initiative, as a reminder of the reality that civil asset forfeiture actually violates due process.

The following are some examples of what is likely to end, should these initiatives pass:

1) Speed traps – A speed trap exists wherever traffic enforcement is focused on extracting revenue from drivers, instead of improving safety, made possible by speed limits posted below the prevailing flow of traffic. These are opportunistic situations in which law enforcement officials are hidden from the public view, just as a speed limit is reduced and speed limit signs are not clearly visible. There have been multiple examples of people warning drivers of an upcoming speed trap and being arrested for this activity. If it was indeed about safety, these drivers being aware of the speed trap would reduce their speed (if necessary), and according to the reasoning for speed laws, this slowing down would improve public safety. Clearly, speed traps are all about the money and not about safety in any way, shape or form. One Colorado town was reported to receive 93% of their revenue from speeding violations. Surely they can find a better way than highway robbery to fund their needs?

2) Unmarked traffic enforcement vehicles – If the interest of enforcement was truly public safety, enforcement vehicles would be clearly marked as a reminder to motorists to be mindful of all traffic laws. The presence of unmarked patrol cars serves one purpose: revenue.

3) Regulatory fines and market conduct exams – Regulation was put in place to manage the public affairs of various industries in the interest of serving the public, and was supposed to be staffed by experts in those industries that were charged with the judicious management of those industries’ interaction with the public. Unfortunately, for regulated industries and the public that they are supposed to protect, the ultimate goal of many regulatory entities has been to fine regulated businesses, because they get to keep the money. Under this situation, anyone subject to regulatory oversight is now “guilty until proven innocent”, in gross violation of the expected protections of the accused in the USA. Fines are assessed with impunity, and the purpose of a market conduct exam is no longer to find and correct damaging activities of regulated businesses… it is to find enough slight variations from common practice to justify a large fine… payable to them.

4) Transparency of laws – Speeding laws are always put in place under the facade of public safety. There are states now which specifically codify certain speeding violations as subject to fines, but not dangerous enough to warrant an increase in hazard points to an automobile insurance company. Clearly, by making these laws, the state is saying that such violations are not dangerous, do not increase risk of an accident, do not jeopardize the public safety, but anyone violating these provisions must pay the applicable government entity. Speaking of transparency… this example is painfully obvious that these laws are a tool to shake down more money from the people.

5) Civil asset forfeiture – Civil asset forfeiture is the creme de la creme of government shakedowns. If any law enforcement official has any reason to believe that anything in the possession of anyone they come in contact with might in some way, shape or form be connected to any illegal activity… they can simply take it and keep it for their employer! To regain what was stolen takes an expensive legal process, and it is always an uphill battle to win. No due process… an obvious violation of the 14th Amendment. Civil asset forfeiture can only be correctly defined as one thing… armed robbery!

This movement is dedicated to creating the spark which fuels the fires of liberty in millions of Americans, by bringing attention to certain realities which are uncomfortable, yet indisputable to many people that have been indoctrinated to the belief that government is altruistic. The more that the people admit to themselves that individual liberty is important to them, and that government is the natural enemy of individual liberty, then, and only then, can we stand together to change the trend toward the disasters of a large central government and create an America as it was intended.

Stop the Shakedowns needs thousands of volunteers and significant revenue to complete these missions.  If you would like to join the team, please visit our website at www.stoptheshakedowns.com and sign up, or if you would like to support the movement in another way, please send an e-mail to [email protected].

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Steve Kerbel is a businessman, author, and former Libertarian Party candidate for President of the United States.

1 COMMENT

  1. I’ve wondered who the money would go to if not the enforcing agent – my brainwashed-by-the-state self couldn’t think of anything better that another part of government, be it another city, the state (not government-state, like one-of-the-50-states), of the Federal government, but the idea of sending it “to a registered and legitimate charity” (when there is no clear victim) is just brilliant!

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