by Paul Engel
- Are states using extortion to get their way?
- Churches fined for their Christmas Eve Services.
- Doctors fined in New York for giving COVID vaccine against state rules.
- Business owners defying state closure mandates.
I see it all the time in the media: Examples of states intimidating and extorting their own citizens in an effort to consolidate their power. So today, I want to look at some of the recent examples of this and give you some tools to protect yourself and your neighbors.
You may think I’m being hyperbolic when I describe state actions as extortion. Noah Webster defined extortion as:
EXTOR’TION, noun The act of extorting; the act or practice of wresting any thing from a person by force, duress, menaces, authority, or by any undue exercise of power; illegal exaction; illegal compulsion to pay money, or to do some other act.
EXTORTION: Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
So if we see examples of governments using force, duress, or their authority, to wrest something away, then they are using extortion. As we go through these examples, keep in mind that under federal law, extortion is punishable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or as it’s more commonly know, RICO.
As used in this chapter-
(1) “racketeering activity” means
(A) any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year;
(B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code: … section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion),
18 USC §1961, From Chapter 96 – RACKETEER INFLUENCED AND CORRUPT ORGANIZATIONS
Two Albuquerque megachurches have been fined after the state says both violated the public health order with massive, unmasked services on Christmas Eve.
Both churches face up to a $10,000 fines, $5,000 for violating the public health order limiting houses of worship to 25% capacity and another $5,000 for violating the mask mandate.
KOAT – Few masks, big crowds and singing: Megachurches fined for Christmas Eve services
So these two churches were fined after it was found they had Christmas Eve services in violation of the governor’s orders. Oh, Constitution of the State of New Mexico, how doth they violate thee? Let us count the ways.
The New Mexico Constitution provides specific guidelines on the powers that government can exercise in an emergency:
In addition to the powers herein enumerated, the legislature shall have all powers necessary to the legislature of a free state, including the power to enact reasonable and appropriate laws to guarantee the continuity and effective operation of state and local government by providing emergency procedure for use only during periods of disaster emergency.
NM Constitution, Article IV, Section 2
Hopefully, you noticed two very important points in the above language. First of all, it’s the legislature, not the executive branch, that’s granted the power to enact reasonable and appropriate laws. Second, those laws are to guarantee the continuity and effective operations of state and local governments. There’s no power granted to the state government to regulate the people during an emergency. And nothing in the New Mexico Constitution authorizes the government to violate that document under any circumstances.
Life and Liberty
All persons are born equally free, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the rights of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and of seeking and obtaining safety and happiness.
NM Constitution, Article II, Section 4
The New Mexico Constitution also guarantees that everyone has the right of both enjoying and defending their life and liberty. The government of the state has no legal authority to deny, limit, or regulate how or where the people exercise their liberty.
Freedom of Religion
Every man shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and no person shall ever be molested or denied any civil or political right or privilege on account of his religious opinion or mode of religious worship.
NM Constitution, Article II, Section 11
By placing limits specifically on houses of worship, the state not only denied those who attend these services their right to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, but are molesting those churches who offered services because the state doesn’t like the mode of worship. While the state may not have picked on specific religions, they are denying the civil right to peaceably assemble.
As thousands of vaccine doses have arrived in New York, the state has placed strict limits on who can receive them — starting with at-risk healthcare workers, nursing home staff, and residents. Those restrictions have not stopped some people who fall outside of the priority categories from obtaining doses, inflaming tensions at some area hospitals.
Gothamist: Cuomo Threatens $1 Million Fine And License Revocation For COVID Vaccine Fraudsters
The government of the State of New York has decided they know not only if, but when, you should get your COVID vaccine. And if you dare to give a vaccine to someone outside of the state’s prescribed schedule, it’s considered fraud (deceit; deception; trick; artifice by which the right or interest of another is injured). Who do you think is better able to determine the actual need of an individual or a community? Is it a doctor working directly with a patient or some government bureaucrat in your state capital? Forget the question of why the federal government purchased all these vaccines, then distributed them to state governments to get to the people. How must it feel to look into the eyes of a patient who desperately needs the vaccine, only to tell them and their family members that the government said no. The government of the State of New York is telling doctors to violate the Hippocratic oath:
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
Wikipedia: Hippocratic oath
Should a doctor put their oath to others above the dictates of the state, not only does Governor Cuomo threaten to revoke their license, but fine them $1,000,000 as well.
Health care providers who fraudulently obtain and distribute the coronavirus vaccine could lose their licenses and face up to $1 million in fines, under a new executive order announced Monday by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Gothamist: Cuomo Threatens $1 Million Fine And License Revocation For COVID Vaccine Fraudsters
In other words, if you do not put the needs of the state above the needs of your patients, we will punish you. Was this punishment enacted by law? No, it was a simple dictate of the Governor.
COVID-related lockdowns are making life hard for everybody, but the restaurant industry seems to be the one taking it on the chin. To stave off having to close their doors for good, some restaurant owners are defying the restrictions.
One News Now: OR deli owner defiant, fighting for survival
By no means are the problems for restaurants and other small business limited to Oregon. In the latest example of ‘comply or else’, we see Governor Brown of Oregon order restaurants to shut down, most likely under threat of revoking their business license or violation of health department code. This is what happens when we allow states to tell us when, where, and how we can do business. Sure, no one wants to eat in a place that isn’t clean. However, as so often happens, a state law can quickly be used to punish the very public it was designed to help.
These are just a few of the headlines I’ve pulled from the news lately. The question I am often asked is what can we do about it? We start by recognizing a simple fact that has been lost to most Americans.
That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; for the advancement of those ends they have at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.
Constitution of the State of Tennessee, Article I, Section 1
Yes, this comes from my adopted state of Tennessee. And yes, most of the states have similar language in their Constitutions. More importantly though, this language expresses the natural right of the people to be in control of their government. Not simply to vote for those who occupy elected office, but to oversee them as well. We should also recognize that governments are created by the authority of the people, that they are instituted for our peace, safety, and happiness, and that governments are servants of the people, not their rulers.
After that we must recognize another simple fact, expressed by Alexander Hamilton:
There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void.
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers #78
Every power of government has been delegated to it by the people. Whenever any government official acts, they does so under a delegated authority. And every time someone assumes an office in government, they are commissioned into that delegated authority, either directly by the people or indirectly by the representatives of the people. So when those in government act contrary to the commission of their delegated authority, that act is void, empty, and vacant. It’s time the American people recognized this simple fact, and stopped voluntarily submitting to edicts and orders that have no substance. Yes, those in government will try to enforce these empty demands, but just as with the emperor who had no clothes, all it takes is for someone to point out that fact, and others to join in, for the lie to be exposed.
Which leads me to the last, and possibly most important, thing we can do. John Jay said that by reading and studying the Constitution, not only will the people more easily recognize when their rights are being violated, but they will be better prepared to defend and assert them. I say we must go further. If we want to return the country to the land of the free, then we must become the home of the brave. By that I mean, it’s not enough to stand up for your rights; you must be willing to stand up for the rights of others as well. For too long have the rights of each of us been separated and segregated from public support. Sure, individuals have stood up to protect their rights, but how many of us have stood up with them? How many of us nervously sat while watching a mother illegally tased and arrested? How many merely shook our heads while everyone from gym owners to hairdressers fought to keep the businesses they had worked so hard for? How many stood by and watched while some self-appointed enforcer demeaned and degraded people whose only crime was trying to live at liberty? And how many of us support not only governments, but businesses, who are actively destroying freedom and liberty in America, simply because it was cheaper or more convenient?
If we want to know why government extortion not only exists in America, but why it has become so effective, it is because We the People have voluntarily submitted to the void and empty rules our employees have created in our name. Whether because of fear or apathy, we have let this happen. And since we were not faithful to the work of our Founding Fathers when the issues were minor and the difficulty small, we now have to decide whether we will stand up when the matter is grave and the penalties may be severe.