Two little kids selling home-garden fruit and veggies from a stand in front of their home have been shut down by the local police because they lacked a permit, violated zoning, caused traffic delays, and posed a health risk. My instinct: You Cannot Be Serious.
Katie and Sabrina Lewis' veggie stand, in the town of Clayton, Calif., where they sold homegrown watermelons for $1, has been shuttered by town officials who told the girls' parents that their daughters' venture violated local zoning ordinances. ...
Manning [the mayor] said he's not trying to be the bad guy in this situation, but that he has to consider the residents' best interests. "It's not like we're the Gestapo going out and closing down fruit stands," he said.
I beg to differ. This is a sad story on many levels, starting with the loss of common sense in favor of "rules" in modern society.
Look, there is a reason that the U.S. Constitution could not be written today. Contemporary lawyering and governance are all about exceptions, carveouts, caveats, fine print, and explaining everything out to the Nth detail. A founding document written by today's finest minds would be thicker than the Lord of Rings Trilogy. The Founders understood the power and importance of brevity in a free, democratic society and produced a document of (by my count) just 4501 words. But their brevity was part of a bargain, which was that the law would be simple and accessible to the citizenry in exchange for a citizenry (and their progeny) which promises to exercise common sense in self-governance and withhod from abusinve litigiousness.
Mayor Manning, in drawing the analogy of the Gestapo, fails to see that he shares their obedience to (and love of) orderly rules over human judgment: I am just following orders; everybody has to follow the same rules.
He offers the same logical absurdism that rule-makers commonly use: what if somebody gets sick eating one of the unregulated cucumbers? What if they sue the city for failing to enforce the law? Yes, yes, what if! We can't trust the courts either. Our legal system is caving into the "not one drop of death" reasoning that has zero tolerance for accidents. Everything has a blameful cause (and its corrolary - every criminal with intent has a blameful cause as well).
My question: how soon before schools start banning tag and kickball? Oh wait, they already have. How soon before kids are arrested for playing unsupervised sports in the park? Oh wait, the parks are being chained off to avoid liability risks.
The larger tragedy for those who care about economic prosperity is this case exemplifies a loss of America's entrpreneurial culture. The younger a person learns the "hard lessons" of real life, the stronger the odds are that they will become an entrepreneur and create jobs. When the bureaucratic impulse overwhelms the entrepreneurial impulse, meaning that a majority of the people thinks some kind of orderly system should be (or is!) in place to give everybody a job, then a soceity begins to begins its great and subtle collapse.
Regular growthology reads will note the title of this post. This is part I of a series that I hope to collect on the theme of dumb government following rules that snuff out entrepreneurship. It's a dangerous trend, but the anecodtes tend to be hilarious, too. No reason we can't have some fun while watching our ship of state sink, is there?
I will need your help in finding nominees, so please send in any stories you find!