published Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Why pick on the little guy?

Abuse of government power comes in many different forms, in many different places and in varying degrees of absurdity.

Among the most appalling recent examples of government oppression comes out of Russia, where, last week, three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail for "hooliganism." Their crime? The (frankly pretty lousy) band staged a flash mob-esque performance of a song titled "Punk Prayer" in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior as a political statement.

You see, the church is owned by the Russian government and "Punk Prayer" contains the lyric "Mother Mary, drive Putin out!" Add those two things together and it was easy for Putin's kangaroo court to get the young ladies out of the "freely elected" (wink-wink) Russian president's hair for a couple of years.

Thankfully, the United States isn't throwing people in jail for speaking their minds in a song -- yet.

But in recent weeks, there have been a number of preposterous and despicable examples of government harassment here at home.

Just last month in Columbia County, Ga., for example, a young female homeowner awoke to find an intruder -- who had let himself into her home and walked into her bedroom -- yelling at her to wake up. It turns out the man was a county compliance officer who wanted to serve her with a violation notice because her grass was too long. Fortunately for him, she didn't have a gun nearby to give him the welcome that many homeowners would have. Fortunately for everyone else, the Columbia County News-Times reports that the creepy bully has been fired for the incident.

Michigan's Mackinac Center, a free market think tank, uncovered the story of 13-year-old Nathan Duszynski of Holland, Mich., whose hot dog stand was shut down by a city zoning officer only 10 minutes after opening. The boy's mother suffers from epilepsy and his dad has multiple sclerosis. He simply wanted to work over his summer break to help out his disabled parents. Now, thanks to ridiculous government regulators, not only did the boy not make money for his family, he is out the cost of the stand and supplies.

Kayden Lidsky, a seven-year-old in North Haven, Conn., is being forced to give up her self-described "best friend" -- Sandy, her pet rabbit -- because of an overzealous zoning enforcement officer. A town ordinance requires two acres of land in order to keep a rabbit. When local bureaucrats found out about the girl's rabbit earlier this month, they ordered the family to get rid of the pet since they have less than the requisite amount of property, according to WTNH News 8 in New Haven.

In a Philadelphia suburb, a woman handing out free lunches to hungry children has run afoul of Chester Township zoning laws. The regulation stipulates that handing out food -- even for free to low income children -- requires a permit. The Philadelphia Inquirer learned that obtaining the permit would cost the Good Samaritan $1,000. If she chooses to ignore the law and continues giving out the lunches, she faces a $600 fine. Angela Prattis, or the "lunch lady" as she's known in the neighborhood, is a trained volunteer with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Nutritional Development Services, which supplies the food she gives out.

Ridiculous regulations that limit the length of grass, prevent a kid from opening a hot dog stand, take away a little girl's pet rabbit or keep hungry children from a hearty lunch don't make anyone the least bit safer or healthier. They certainly don't make people freer or government more efficient.

Every time government abuses its power simply to pester people who are minding their own business, or harass those trying to help others, we lose just a little more liberty and we inch a little closer to living in a society -- like Russia -- where freedom is a luxury.

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So what would you do if that kid's hot dog stand caused customers to get food poisoning? Or the other woman's food offerings? You may think a rabbit isn't a problem, but what do you feel about the people who keep tigers and other dangerous pets? What about the people who try to conduct breeding pens in their homes?

Your blanket declarations that the government is being abusive when somebody is just minding their business, but never reflect on the valid problems people might have, well, that's just wrong.

And let's face it, I'm sure you'd be up in arms if your neighbor was neglecting their property. Maybe you feel that your liberty is threatened by the law protecting us from other people intruding on us, but you know what? Sometimes the best way to protect our freedom is restraining others.

I'm sure there are abuses, even some of these cases (the compliance officer going into the house, for example), but can you admit that there's valid and appropriate regulation at all? Is that conceivable to you?

I doubt it. I also doubt you can admit there's abuses of the people who proclaim they are sovereign citizens, and the government has no call on them.

Or can you surprise me, and maybe write about the recent shootings in Louisiana? That was actual deaths. Or perhaps you'd like to explain why somebody should be allowed to just neglect to safely inspect the food they're selling? Perhaps you'd care to explain why an AC contractor should be given license to install things without regards for doing it properly? Or maybe somebody should be allowed to operate a noisy worksite while others are trying to sleep?

Never going to mention that, you're just concerned with railing against your cherry-picked examples of government abuses.

August 21, 2012 at 12:15 a.m.

@happywithnewbulbs - Of all the ridiculous crap you've spewed, this is truly one of the most idiotic. I think I speak for most readers of the Conservative opinion column when I say "you have no life."

August 21, 2012 at 12:47 a.m.
EaTn said...

disheartened...... I know many good conservatives who disagree but are not disagreeable. Statements like your post who put down individuals do not represent the majority of liberals or conservatives posters on this site.

August 21, 2012 at 5:23 a.m.

EaTn, some people just have to think they're speaking for a crowd to give greater weight to their opinions. That way their individual conduct doesn't matter, it's got the GROUP behind it.

But there's nothing like somebody who logged in and created a name just to spite another poster to show who really have no life. But I'm sure the Conservatives on this site will make all sorts of excuses for you as they sycophantically cheer you on.

BTW, I thought of some things this side of the paper would probably support from the government:

Draconian immigration enforcement. Oppressive demands for ID from voters, in a stunning endorsement of bureaucracy over citizens. Despite no evidence of any significant problem. (Thanks Jon Stewart for reminding me!) Extensive regulation of abortions just to shut down those clinics who are offering health services to women. Police officers who claim the suspect they had searched, and handcuffed in the back of their car, managed to shoot himself in the head with a gun he'd been carrying. Harsh copyright laws, and even harsher drug laws. Actually, generally harsh treatment of "criminals" as a rule, with a disdain for any compassion or mercy.

And I suspect if given a little provocation, you could be convinced to support a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning or some other such expression of freedom which you don't find yourself approving.

Unless you're a true anarcho-libertarian anyway. Then maybe you'll have the courage of your principles. More likely you're just using your concern for "freedom" as a cloak for your more selfish resentment of being held accountable, of recognizing that you exist with other human beings who have their own rights, some of which can trump your own freedoms.

It'd be one thing if I thought you were expressing a nuanced position that is concerned for abuses, but you clearly are adopting a line that is far more dogmatic, and rather similar to that of the sovereign citizens movement.

Do you even care?

August 21, 2012 at 7:38 a.m.
conservative said...

I don't believe there is anything much worse that bureacrats with power.

This article reminded me of some California wildfires in the early nineties that swept through a neighborhood of homes nestled in a wooded area that was home to the "endangered" Kangaroo rat. Homeowners were forbidden to clear or disturb the dry vegetation around their homes as this would disturb the habitat of the rat.

I watched on TV homes caught on fire by burning bramble brushes and dried vegetation surrounding the homes and no one was or had attempted to clear the area around their homes due to the law protecting the rat. However, an immigrant did get a mower out and cleared the area around his home to save it. The last I heard the feds were going to prosecute him but I never heard the outcome.

Now the fires not only disturbed the habitat of the rat but destroyed it as well! And you know rats breed like rats so they are still around and there was nothing man could do about it anyway.

August 21, 2012 at 9:25 a.m.
joneses said...

disheartenedbynewbulbs

Happywithnewbulbs is for anything that raises taxes and produces more government intrusion. Anytime an article is posted about lowering taxes he rears his ugly head. Anytime someone mentions smaller government you will see happy's head rear again. why would you be surprised? His statement "what if someone gets food poisoning from eating a hot dog at this kids hot dog stand speaks volumes of how he thinks. Happy actually is worried about who the person will sue that could get food poisoning from this kids hot dog stand. He knows the little kid could not be sued. Happywithnewbulbs and the rest of his liberal friends utopian beliefs have them living the lie that government can eliminate all risk in life. That is it plan and simple and is an example of how they are always unhappy with everything as they cannot except the fact we live in an imperfect world. They are a sad hate filled dishonest lot.

August 21, 2012 at 10:29 a.m.

Ah conservative, actually the problem was the people demanding the right to build homes in a dangerous area. Much like they also chose to build on hills that slid away in rains, or in a flood zone.

And of course they utterly opposed letting the fire service do any kind of controlled burn or other mitigation. But you never consider that.

Joneses, so you're basically saying that you think the child should not be responsible for the consequences of their actions? That if they injure people, through their actions, you're ok with no recompense? You seem to have a strange idea of your libertarian utopia yourself. I think you're living an even worse lie if you think that's a good idea.

But you complaining about others being sad and hate-filled is hilarious. One day you're going to have to admit to being a troll.

August 21, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.
conservative said...

bulbs, you seldom write anything coherent and when you do you are wrong. You are obsessed with being contrary and obstinate.

August 21, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.

ah, conservative, complaining that I'm the one who lacks coherence, contrary and obstinate.

That's telling more about yourself than about me.

Thanks again, keep up with the self-defeating methods.

August 21, 2012 at 1:10 p.m.
joneses said...

I think there is a certain amount of unavoidable risk associated with living and there is not a darn thing the government can do about it. The problem with happy is he thinks that if anyone makes a mistake they should have consequences. Happy, please stay away from little kids lemonade and hot dog stands as you sound like the type person that would sue them if they spilled mustard or lemonade on you. You are that pathetic.

August 21, 2012 at 1:28 p.m.

That's nice, joneses, but there's plenty of risk that the government can and should mitigate. You can make bland platitudes about the world not being perfectly safe as if anybody were worried about that yourself, but that's just your strawman.

Still, I thought teaching responsibility was a conservative ideology, that people should be held accountable. I do seem to recall you insist that people should face consequences for their choices.

I guess you'd rather teach children that their indulgent parents will coddle them and keep them from learning about this world you say has risks in it. It's funny what mental contortions you put yourself through in order to pretend to score points on liberals.

C'mon, fess up, you're really just being a false flag agent.

August 21, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

"Why pick on the little guy?"

Money, plain and simple. Since corporations are people now, it is all about the money. If you don't pay for the permit, you don't get it. If you break any rule, they will get every dime they can from you. Outsource the function and it becomes a racket. Plain and simple.

August 21, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
joneses said...

happy,

Mistakes happen and you are twisting this discussion with your stupid statement about conservatives teaching responsibility. Of course we believe in families teaching their children personal responsibility. Who wouldn't? Oh, thats right a liberal wouldn't. A liberal thinks it is the governments job to teach children personal responsibility. We are talking about government intrusion on little kids with lemonade stands and hot dog stands and you think that is acceptable? You are really drinking to much Kool Aid. Stay away from the girls selling Girl Scout cookies because if you choke on one I am sure you would sue them because it would be their fault and not yours.

August 21, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
Easy123 said...

joneses,

You're a moron.

Mistakes come with consequences. That's how the world works. Maybe not in your fantasy world but here on earth, that's how it goes.

Government can do a lot about it. You might have heard of these government agencies called police officers, firemen, the military, the FDA, the FBI, Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, the CDC, the ATF, the NIH, etc. They really help make our lives less risky.

If a kid sells someone tainted food, their parents and the child should be held responsible just like if you got sick at a restaurant. To think otherwise is just strange. That's just one example. There are many more. I'm sure you won't understand. After all, you're still a moron.

August 21, 2012 at 2:33 p.m.

My oh my, joneses's is complaining about me twisting the discussion, after how many of your own statements with fabricated claims about liberals just in this thread alone? C'mon, you can't expect anybody to buy your indignation when you're guilty of the offense yourself. Or do you lack the insight to realize what you've been doing?

You're talking about letting children be allowed to operate a commercial business with no accountability at all except your utopian idea that somehow their parents will do it? So what if they don't? You think they should just escape any oversight, or do you think they should be held to some standards? Is this your idealistic libertarian anarchy showing through, where everybody is somehow benign and beneficent? And you complain about others living a lie.

Will your self-delusions never end?

BTW, those Girl Scout cookies? Produced in a big factory. That follows safety regulations and has insurance to be accountable. They aren't touched by real Girl Scouts at all, except through the boxes. I wonder why.

August 21, 2012 at 2:38 p.m.

Easy123, please stop making excuses for joneses. It's not a lack of intellectual capacity that's the problem, it's a lack of integrity and self-awareness.

And you left out the number one way government deals with mistakes. The court system. You know, the government's actions to resolve conflicts.

August 21, 2012 at 2:40 p.m.
joneses said...

I hate to bust your egos but I made a mistake last week and there was not one consequence to that mistake. Did you know I have not called one person on here a name in a couple of weeks? That is all you liberals know is name calling, hate and intolerance. Practice what you preach. Keep doing it though it confirms your true colors.

August 21, 2012 at 3:25 p.m.

LOL, joneses, if you think that not calling people names is somehow improving the quality of your posts, you're more deluded than ever.

Sorry, but the lies from you are still rampant, as is the hate and intolerance. Yet you indignantly protest that you're the victim, like some bully complaining that other people are the ones at fault. It's so transparent that I have to wonder, who do you think believes you?

But if you want to say that not all mistakes have immediate consequences, who would deny that? But you could say that about sins and crimes. That happens. At least, unless you believe in a just and watching deity of some kind who might just be keeping score.

August 21, 2012 at 6:42 p.m.
joneses said...

I stopped calling people names on here because I do not want to be like you happy and the rest of your hate filled liberal friends. LOL! The only one that has hate here is you happy. You continue to lie and spread your agenda of complete government intrusion and higher taxes for everyone. You are just a typical liberal who wants to live off others hard work and everyone on here knows you for the hate you have.

By the way my family is going to bake some cakes, cookies and pies to sell this weekend. But shhh, we do not want the government to know because we do this on the side and do not pay any sales taxes or income taxes on this small business. So happy, please do not report us to the FBI for this terrible crime. LOL!

August 22, 2012 at 5:47 a.m.
hotdiggity said...

"I stopped calling people names on here because I do not want to be like you happy and the rest of your hate filled liberal friends"

Hmm, I'm guessing you received a note to cease and desist your cursing and name calling or be booted from this thread.

August 22, 2012 at 8:41 a.m.

joneses, why didn't you stop name-calling because it was the wrong thing to do, and you genuinely and sincerely repented of that misbehavior?

You accuse others of hate, while repeating your own attacks and disdain. What level of self-delusion do you have?

Then you say you're committing tax evasion? Well, you know that makes you a thief. Thanks for admitting you will gladly steal and cheat others just to benefit yourself.

August 22, 2012 at 1:46 p.m.
fairmon said...

happy....

Are you ignoring the principles of caveat emptor and laissez-faire?

August 23, 2012 at 5:04 a.m.
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