I’m glad Aristotle has already started posting; his work kept the activity going on this site while I was out of town (no laptop here) for a family occasion. While I was away, I had occasion to be reminded of some items which would probably be of interest to the readers here.
1. Municipal lightpost fatwahs. We freedom lovers relish the opportunity to call out the depredations of the Federal government. Wisdom, however, would seem to compel us to find tyranny also at the local level, even the municipal milieu. In a little place called Penn Township in York County, PA, they have any number of stupid, tyrannical laws.
My favorite concerns light posts. A couple of years ago, an entire residential block received letters informing them that they had all violated the law by failing to turn on their front yard light posts. Apparently one of the local Polizei was bored one night and went looking for these gauche offenders of the Positive Laws of Lumination. I don’t know what the exact terms of the law are, but, if I recall correctly, this law was passed when newer developments were built without street lights. The irony is that even in neighborhoods with street lights which completely wash out the tiny post lamps, the law obtains.
The fine for violating this very important law is an astounding $1000. On what basis such a penalty can be set so high is hard to say. I do not accept the deterrence argument; such an outlook in any case tends to rationalize gross injustices, and in this case, $500 should seem to be sufficient. All of this is besides the notion of proportionality. Even that discussion, of course, sets aside the discussion about whether or not this law is a just one. But forget the $1000. What about private property rights? Where does this little twit of a municipality get off telling people what to do with their property? I know this is only one example of many, but when are we going to step forward to defend the underlying principles of liberty that are being violated?
Alas, most people are too occupied with particulars and peripherals to “waste time” defending principles. The problem is that in letting small matters such as post lamps go, one can end up forfeiting any basis for the defense of human dignity and rights when the stakes become much higher.
2. The trash bag Nazi. This same cursed township has a recycling program. Now, I certainly hold it as an article of faith that the Al Gore-esque global warming fanaticism is nothing more than a false religion. But recycling seems reasonable enough, since it only makes sense to try to get as much out of our limited resources as possible. Recycling programs can therefore be quite good.
Unless they’re compulsory. In Penn Township, they have a trash Nazi who goes around and goes through the trash of the residents to make sure that they haven’t thrown anything in the trash that belongs in the recycling bin. Violations are punished stiffly.
What is more, it will not do to use regular trash bags. One must purchase Penn Township’s special over-priced trash bags. I suppose this is meant to discourage people from having too much crap to throw out.
Serfdom. It’s easy to look at the depredations of the Federal or state government and see how our rights are being curtailed. But perhaps some of the more salient, more compelling, more annoying examples come from the bored tyrants who run local municipalities. Most citizens seem to be helplessly resigned to the existence of taxes, but maybe someday a stupid light post law will fire people up and get them to insist once again on fair treatment.
We can hope, can’t we?