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Mugged by the State: Outrageous Government Assaults on Ordinary People and Their Property Hardcover – October 17, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Investigative reporter Randall Fitzgerald has traveled the country meeting ordinary, innocent Americans with horrifying stories of how they have lost their homes, land, businesses, bank accounts, cars, and other assets to federal, state, and local government.

Thanks to out-of-control regulations, property can be seized, impounded, and sold without recompense to the rightful and innocent owner. And as Randall Fitzgerald points out, it could happen to you.

This shocking book reveals:

-How developer Donald Trump used a state agency to try to confiscate a widow's home whose land he coveted for a casino parking lot

-How a family in New York was unable to move into their newly bought house because of a change in the state housing laws, costing them an eight-year battle and $700,000

-How the FDA shut down a Maine fish business because its processing methods were allegedly a life-threatening health hazard-but allowed Canadian firms to sell fish in the United States processed exactly the same way

-How a Utah cattle rancher was threatened with fines after wild birds found nesting on his ranch were thought to be eating an endangered species of snail

-Why few victims contest their treatment (and it's not because they're guilty)

-Proof that enforcement quotas-and fundraising incentives-lead to unjustified property seizures

-How corporate America cuts itself in on the racket

-How to fight back effectively if you or someone you know becomes ensnared in the regulatory spider web

Randall Fitzgerald chronicles a clear and disturbing pattern of government abuse that has gone woefully unchallenged. Mugged by the State is a warning, a call to arms, and a practical manual of self-defense.

About the Author

Randall Fitzgerald was a Reader's Digest contributing editor for twenty years and is now a full-time freelance writer. His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Capitol Hill News, the Houston Post, and other publications.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 155 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (October 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895261022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895261021
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,117,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By P. Murray on August 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
You could be "Mugged by the War on Drugs" because the government wants to raise revenue. Fitzgerald quotes "Steven Kessler, who once headed the district attorney's asset forfeiture unit in the Bronx, New York. `The focus is no longer on combating crime. It's on fundraising.'" You could be "Mugged by Eminent Domain" because the government wants to take your property and give it to someone else. Fitzgerald explains their reasoning: "under the banner of `redevelopment,' many government officials now interpret public good to mean the advancement of any business interest that creates more jobs and tax revenue than the business, home, or neighborhood that it replaces."

The author devotes his largest chapter to people "Mugged for the Environment." The remaining chapters cover government incursions into people's livelihoods in order to help the handicapped, maintain safe workplaces, and protect consumers. Victims lose property, years of their lives, and faith in justice. The bad guys are government officials enforcing unreasonable regulations either because they are drunk with power or the tools of third parties seeking to transfer property to themselves. The good guys are victims who fight to keep their property even if they only score Pyrric victories after lengthy and expensive legal battles. Good guys also include legal groups such as the Institute for Justice.

Fitzgerald rejects the criticism that these tales are isolated. He claims that "It Could Happen to You." "I believe", he writes, "a strong case can be made that these anecdotes show the emergence of clear and disturbing patterns, and from these patterns we can discern systemic problems and abuses that require legislative remedies." In conclusion he outlines proposals for reform. Exercise your property rights to buy this book and prepare to be shocked.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Josh Dunn on January 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mugged by the State, by Randall Fitzgerald, is a series of succinct descriptions of cases in which government agencies destroyed small businesses and seized homes, cars, and other property from everyday people. In each case where the victim did break the law, it was a minor, technical violation that should not have triggered such a draconian reaction.
Each vignette in Mugged by the State is based on a true story that Fitzgerald wrote for Readers Digest.
Consider the case of Fred and Nancy Cline. They established one of the last remaining family farms in the country, only to have the Army Corps of Engineers issue a cease and desist order threatening them with ongoing fines of $25,000 a day for each day they were in violation of one of its wetlands regulations, plus one year in prison. After a second cease and desist order and ruinous legal expenses, the Army Corps of Engineers demanded they restore the entire farm to its preagricultural state. To intimidate the Clines, the Corps of Engineers began flying black helicopters over the property, only a very short distance from the ground.
It's clear that a person doesn't own what he doesn't control. When government at any level, Federal, state or local, denies a property owner the right to control what belongs to him, the government has seized ownership. Had they not received help from an unexpected source, the government would own the Clines' farm.
The Clines talked to a former chief of the Army Corps of Engineers' regulatory division who had played a major role in writing the portion of the Clean Water Act the Corps and DOJ accused the Clines of violating. The former chief of the regulatory division said everything the Clines did was legal. DOJ and the Army ultimately dropped the matter.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nod Nod on December 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is stunning. First of all, it is both chilling and brilliant, such as when the author describes interviewing one of the book's subjects when suddenly, like right out of a movie--a ubiquitous black helicopter juts over the horizon and approaches menacingly until it hovers right outside the window! There are surpises galore in this masterpiece of what should alarm and awaken Americans to a government that can at times be arrogant and intimidating. In short, this book is a MUST-READ and should be included in college American history and poli-sci courses. Also, you will appreciate that this is not shoddy, conspiracy-ridden material, but the real thing. MUGGED BY THE STATE author Randall Fitzgerald is an experienced journalist whose cases here have been thoroughly fact-checked. I also liked how the self-help portion of the book is invaluable because it offers you solid how-to guidance and resources should you be "mugged by the state." An awesome book!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By N.. Martin on January 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You don't seem to hear the phrase "It's a free country" much anymore. And no wonder. It isn't! As you would expect from a Reader's Digest writer, Fitzgerald does a succinct job of detailing one government horror after another. Americans are under siege by politicians and their agents at every level, and any attempt at justice is expensive and unpredictable since the courts are no more consistent in their defense of liberty than any other branch of government. It doesn't matter whether the politicians in charge are Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, government grows and liberty shrinks under all regimes.

Most sadly, few Americans seem to care about the erosions of freedom, so long as they are not themselves under attack. They support the tragedy of drug prohibition, and the thefts which emminent domain, zoning, and environmental regulations facilitate. Fitzgerald notes how commonplace it is for a company like Costco to demand that cities take property from landowners and give them to the companies to build new club locations. The author, like James Bovard, is a good chronicler of the end of freedom in America.
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