Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

August 21, 2009

Leave Us the HELL ALONE

by Chris Byrne

Crossposting something my wife wrote, from here:

I’ve been in an incredibly foul mood the last couple of days, and until this morning I did not understand why.

We’re planning on moving to where we actually want to be. We’re constantly being asked why we want to move to the middle of nowhere. I tell everyone, “because I feel hemmed in and trapped.” Almost no one understands what I mean. Until this morning I could not explain the feeling of being a rat in a cage. Now I can.

This morning I woke up on my “don’t remove the tag” mattress, walked through my building code compliant house, used the federally compliant toilet, dressed the kids and drove them to their “state certified” charter school where they’ll eat a state approved lunch.

I got back in my state registered, emissions compliant, insured (by state requirement) car and drove the legal speed limit back to the house. I then walked through my Scottsdale code compliant yard (no weeds in our “desert” landscaping”)into the house, drank pasteurized (USDA required) juice, and ate cereal processed in an inspected facility with milk from an USDA compliant dairy. I then took my FDA approved prescription pills (from a licensed pharmacy of course) and played with the state-licensed dogs.

I took a call on my federally taxed cell phone (instead of the federally taxed land line), stopped by our FDIC insured bank (which received TARP money that it didn’t want and is not allowed to pay back), and drove along city streets (paid for by sales and property taxes) to the closest Costco (which has a business license of course and pays mandated worker’s comp). I bought beef franks made from inspected beef in an inspected facility, buns made in an OSHA compliant factory, and a gallon of Frank’s in an approved plastic bottle.

All of this before 10:15 am.

This is not restricted to me of course. This is normal daily life for the vast majority of Americans. Almost everything we do is touched by one agency or another.

In preparation for moving I’ve been researching what I want to do with the land. We want to build our own house and outbuildings and drink our own water and make our own electricity.

In order for this to work we have to:

* Buy land with the proper zoning.
* Wait for the required escrow to be completed.
* Apply for building permits and well permits.
* Possibly apply for a zoning variance in order to raise a wind turbine.
* Build code-compliant buildings.
* Wire the electricity according to code.
* Pay sales tax on all materials used.

My biggest dream is to grow an orchard, plant some vegetables and grains, and raise our own milk and meat. In order for this to happen we have to

* Buy only trees that can be delivered to the correct state (as decided by each state’s government).
* Use only approved pesticides (like we could buy anything else).
* Buy a tractor (with applicable state tax).

If we find ourselves with an excess of food and would like to sell it we have to

* Apply for a license.
* Obtain a tax i.d. number.
* Collect sales tax.
* Label the goods according to code.
* Submit to random inspections of the dairy operation.
* Submit to random inspections of the meat process.
* In order to sell prepared foods (like jams) submit to inspections of the “commercial” kitchen (which cannot be used to prepare the family’s food).
* Pay sales tax on all goods and materials used.

In order to set up the business properly, we have to

* Apply for a business license.
* Obtain a tax i.d. number.
* Obtain permission from the state to use the name.
* Collect sales tax.

God forbid we deal with the local fauna. We plan on moving in an area thick with moose and wolves, but in order to hunt we have to obtain

* A hunting license.
* A controlled-hunt tag for the moose (if we’re lucky enough to get one).
* Forget about the wolves, they’re “protected”.

Should we need to protect our livestock from the moose or wolves we are allowed to dispose of the threat, but we must

* Inform game and fish.
* Turn the carcass over to the state.

If we use firearms to dispose of the threat, we must

* Use a “legal” firearm (as determined by the NFA and ATF).
* If we choose to use a suppressor (because of dogs, horses, and our own hearing) we must pay the stamp.

This doesn’t even account for all of the hoops the realtor and the vendors have to go through.

All of this instead of

* Pay for property. Make contract with owner.
* Build.
* Dig well.
* Wire.
* Buy tractor.
* Plant.
* Sell food.
* Sell services.
* Protect livestock.

No wonder I feel trapped. I can’t do a single thing with my own property that doesn’t involve one government agency or another (or several). I feel like a rat being funneled through a maze, and I am cognizant of the danger that someone will block off the exit. It’s my claustrophobia writ large.

This is just wrong. I’m a grown woman. Why does the government have to meddle in all of my affairs? Why do I have to jump through hoops just to accomplish the most simple things in life?

It’s all about power and control. Always has been always will be.

I’m sure in the beginning the encroachment began with simple things. After all, isn’t the government supposed to protect our rights? Isn’t having a dedicated police force, justice system, military, etc. worth a little in taxes?

Then a little more encroachment. Who can disagree with a little tax to pay for state roads? That’s entirely reasonable, right?

Then enforcement of standards. Who can disagree with licensing teachers? Making sure underage kids can’t marry?

Then the panics set in. Contaminated meat? The government should “do something” so it won’t happen again! E coli? Pasteurize EVERYTHING!

Of course, the NIMBY’S added their own input. Nuclear power plant? Not in my backyard! Enforce zoning so I won’t have to worry about it! Require my neighbor to clean up their yard so my house values don’t go down!

Then the lobbyists. Require farm inspections and multiple hoops so small farmers give up and “our big backers don’t have competition”. Give into the “green” lobby so they don’t pull their campaign contributions.

Of course there’s always the pure tax whores. “It’s just a little reasonable fee. On everything. You want to pay your share, right?”

Of course all of this gets codified into law, and the ultimate persuasive tactic is put into play.

“You don’t want to be a criminal, do you? You don’t want to go to prison, do you?”

This is exactly how we went from a system in which the government’s job of protecting our rights to a system where government determines WHO is ALLOWED to trample on our rights.

Well I have a message for all you busybodies, bureaucrats, rent-seekers, and whored-out legislators.

LEAVE US THE HELL ALONE.

Get out of my contracts.

Get off of my land.

Leave my property alone.

Stay the hell out of my bedroom.

Most of all, KEEP YOUR NOSES OUT OF MY BUSINESS.

And everyone else’s for that matter.

Mel

I haven’t mentioned my wife here very much, because she generally doesn’t write about libertarian issues; but I have to say, for this (and so many other reasons. For one thing, she’d rather buy guns, boats, motorcycles, and airplanes than shoes or jewelery), I am the luckiest man in the world. I happen to think this piece is the best thing she’s ever written.

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  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    Thanks for cross-posting. When I first read this I was about to ask you if you wanted to cross-post, but realized (halfway through the article) that it was one of Mel’s. Great work!

    It really pointed out just how pervasive government regulation is, while at the same time forcing us to realize just how conditioned we are to it — it’s invisible unless you look for it.

  • http://www.geekmom.net geekmom

    omg do i have permission to read this on the podcast? this is awesome.

  • http://fpffressminds.blogspot.com/ Stephen Littau

    That was excellent! Thanks so much for posting it here Chris.

  • http://therubychronicles.blogspot.com Dana H.

    *cheering wildly* Your wife is a smart woman! Kudos to her for writing such a great piece!

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  • Justin Bowen

    I think Dough Stanhope said it best.

  • stan

    While I agree that the state meddles way too much in our affairs, I would like to also point out that this is not always such a bad thing. Think, instead, of the world we live in if many of those regulations did not exist.

    You would run a greater risk of dying from those drugs you buy, because profit is better than safety.
    Many more would die at work, because safety compliance costs money. You would work much longer for much less pay. Most people would become, in effect, indentured servants, or would be slaves.
    Many peoples houses might fall down, because the building codes do not exist. Other protected areas would be developed. Pollution would be rampant, even more than it is.
    Highway deaths would be huge, because car safety standards do not exist.

    I am sure you get the idea. It has gotten way out of control, yes. The state gets way too involved with our freedoms to live as we choose. Just realize that without the intervention of the government on our behalf, our lives would be a lot worse.

  • http://www.thecampofthesaints.com Bob Belvedere

    Though a conservative, I think it’s a grand statement—one of the finest I’ve seen—of what it means to be on [and in] The Right. Thank you for alerting me to it.

    Te’ Salute! to your wonderful wife.

    Please see my reasoning here, if you’re interested:
    http:// http://www.thecampofthesaints.co…l#1250885549118

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    Ahh, stan… Trotting out the old fallacy that if the government didn’t offer standards, we’d be in a free-for-all hellhole!

    Yet you fail to recognize that in the absence of government, private actors step in. Private actors, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL):

    The UL Mark does not carry any legal weight beyond that of any other trademark. In this sense, it is different from the CE Marking or the FCC Part 15 requirements for electronic devices, which are required by law. In practice, however, it may be extremely difficult to sell certain types of products without a UL Mark. Large distributors may be unwilling to carry a product without UL certification, and the use of noncertified equipment may invalidate insurance coverage. It is common practice in many fields to specify UL Listed equipment or UL Recognized materials. Local jurisdictional authorities, such as building, electrical and fire inspectors, may be reluctant to accept a product for installation in a building unless it carries a recognized third-party compliance mark such as the UL Mark.

    I work in the electronics industry. CE and FCC approval for radiated emissions is covered by government restriction (ostensibly due to the potential interference of these devices with others), but UL is not. Yet UL is given just as much weight in the industry as these other standards, possibly more (since it is more safety-related than emissions-related).

    Next time you go to an electronics store, try to buy something with a power cord that’s not UL Listed. I’m willing to bet you can’t do it, and that’s not because the law says so, but because that store doesn’t want the liability of selling you something that might burn your house down.

  • ed42

    How can I arrange for your wife to teach mine?

    Thanks Brad for correcting Stan’s illogical notion of government. Stan, government (initiating force to accomplish goals) is never a good. It’s the old story of might makes right

  • http://feminafortis.com Melody Byrne

    Geekmom, you have my permission. Thank you for asking!

  • http://www.justenrobertson.com Justen Robertson

    I can’t agree more with your frustration. I run a home business as a web application programmer. Even in a very small business-friendly state (Arizona) I still have to jump through ridiculous hoops to do something I should be able to just sit down, set up shop, and do. Fundamentally I need a computer, check, I need software, check, I need a website to bring in business, check, and I need a place to work, check. Why does what amounts to me sitting in front of a computer typing for 8 hours a day require registration with a half dozen agencies and giving up a third of my income for services I don’t use or require?

    If we ever do this grand experiment over, we need to remember as a society how to just say no to government “help”.

    A road system? No thank you, I’ll pay to have my own road paved and maintained for 1/10th the cost, twice the quality, and I’ll get it done in a week or so, not two years (although we pay for our roads through taxes on fuel, not income tax anyway).

    A public school system? No, no and hell no. For the price I will pay in property taxes to fund a school I can put my son and two other kids through a superior private school (assuming no government intervention, taxation, and protectionism driving up costs).

    All these other stupid things? I can’t put this politely: no, and fuck. Off. I do not need a bureaucrat inspecting every 1 in 10,000 pieces of meat under the premise of insuring it’s not infected (as if that really helps anyway, and in any case I don’t eat meat, why should I pay for that). All I need is product liability so when I do get sick from bad food the responsible party pays for my reasonable costs. Liability, no surprise, leads to better quality assurance. I certainly do not need a bureaucrat telling me how to build my house; if it falls in on my head because I do a poor job, who’s fault is that? If I fail to do due diligence in buying a home, once again, who’s fault is that? Some of the other nonsense doesn’t even deserve a mention.

    Thanks for the article, I’ll be linking it to friends.

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  • http://www.notjustaboringdentist.com Brad C DMD

    I think at heart we are all Libertarians: take care of my protection (police, arm, etc), take care of the roads (so I can safely ane easily get to my favorite comic book store and strip joint), and stay the fuck out of the rest of my life. It’s too bad that when things get a little bit rocky (usually because governemnt stuck their noses in our business 10 years ago but no one remembers they actually caused the problem), people turn BACk tot he government, the very people who screwed them in the first place, looking fro a ahnd to hold. I admit, its difficult to succeed as a people when the government keeps on pulling the rug out from under us, then offers a heloing hand to bring us back to our feet. I just wish people would have the balls to slap that hand away, climb back tot heir feet themsleves, then give the owner of that hand a swift kick to the nads.
    We need to be less dependent, not more dependent, ont he government.
    Peace

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  • http://squidoo.com/nicerebel Kent

    Could not have said it better myself.
    There are however ways to opt out of the system without leaving the country. It’s not for the faint hearted, but we can use the law to get more freedom than most realize.
    Check out the various videos and links at my Squidoo lens.

  • Peter

    I was very much a libertarian as a youth. I am no longer a youth and have therefore put childish things away.

    The basic problem with libertarianism is the simple fact that we live in a world of nearly 7 billion people and growing. Land and resources are finite (at least at the current moment of technology)

    So the well your wife proposes to dig affects the water table of those around you, and, when multiplied by the thousands of other people around you, can affect the water situation of a whole region (see Montana). The wildlife you propose to hunt are not able to withstand the onslaught of the other thousands who would hunt them for lack of regulation. And please don’t respond that “some independent agency” would step in – there are too many historical examples of extinct species for me to believe that. The list can go on…

    I am very sympathetic to providing the maximum rights to the individual, but I have come to realize that many use these rights as an excuse to have no concern for how their actions affect others. The mass (which after all are simply other people) have rights as well.

  • http://www.justenrobertson.com Justen

    @Peter: You are right, there are 7 billion people in the world, and the last thing we need is a tiny fraction of busybodies pushing them all around, inhibiting their personal and professional growth, terrorizing them into rigid class structures, stealing away their productivity for arbitrary goals, murdering them under pretense of police and military action, and all the other evils that statism produces. If we keep that up, there will not by 7 billion of us around in 100 years, there will be close to 0.

    You clearly never got the point of libertarianism if authoritarianism is now your preference. Libertarianism is not about you getting to do what you want to other people with impunity, it is the exact opposite: you may not do what you want to other people, period, without consent. That means, among other things, you may not: steal their property, assault their person, confine or attack them for offending you, dictate to them how they may behave on their own private property, invade their private property for any reason, and so on. The “mass” does not have rights, each individual in it has rights. To say the “mass” has rights is really to say those not belonging to whatever “mass” you belong to has fewer rights than you, or that some elite group making decisions for the mass has greater rights than the rest. The concept of group rights is a self-contradictory assertion, the claim that all have equal rights but some majority or part of it are more equal than others.

    In short, you may not for any reason use force, threat of force, or fraud to deprive another of life, liberty, or property. If you can derive from that principle a means to abuse others legitimately, please, feel free to poke holes in it. Perhaps this isn’t the right place to debate it, but I’ll be happy to debunk your claims.

    Let’s start with your complaint about hunting. If you feel it’s important to preserve certain species from hunting or extinction, buy land on which to house them. If you cannot afford to do that, organize enough people to donate money on the project who can. By pure democratic majority, it requires 50+% of the population to implement a law to steal from me my money in order to effect this protection; that means, in theory, you should be able to organize 154.5 million people or so to help you out.

    Your water rights argument is specious entirely. If there are X number of people requiring water in a region, they will consume Y amount of water whether they do so by drilling their own wells or by paying a water company to extract the same water for them. If there is not enough water to supply the area, the water company imports water; if some wish to drill wells and take their chances with dirty and intermittent water supplies, and others pay a company to import water for them, that is their business. Once again if half the population feels it is necessary to avoid depleting the water table, they are advised to discontinue their own use, which would instantly cut consumption by about half. If that’s not enough, they’re welcome to provide better water service at a lower cost from external sources and entice well owners to switch over.

  • southernjames

    “Large distributors may be unwilling to carry a product without UL certification, and the use of noncertified equipment may invalidate insurance coverage.”

    And,

    “Next time you go to an electronics store, try to buy something with a power cord that’s not UL Listed. I’m willing to bet you can’t do it, and that’s not because the law says so, but because that store doesn’t want the liability of selling you something that might burn your house down.”

    Thank you, Brad W. As a civil litigator, I must say, you just made an EXCELLENT argument in support of the Personal Injury Bar in this country remaining as it is, and not being forced into “loser pays fees” system like they have in places like Britain. And also keeping intact our system of trial by jury. Threat of personal injury litigation where a little guy injured consumer can go up against Giganto Corp., USA, and with the knowledge that the jury will be comprised of fellow citizens who make the same sort of purchases he made down at Radio Shack, does unfortunately add ultimate costs to the goods and services we purchase – BUT it also serves to encourage responsible corporate behavior….without the need for Nanny State intervention and control.

    And I say that as somebody who practices on the other side of the fence, rather than on “the dark side” as we on our side call the plaintiff’s bar.

    Next time somebody comes out with that tiresome (and quoted entirely out of context) Shakespere quote about killing all the lawyers, or advocates a loser pays fees change in our system, I’ll be expecting you to enter the fray and defend our current system.

  • http://squidoo.com/nicerebel Kent

    ~Shakespere was right, and while we are at it we should kill what laughingly passes for Judges these days, too.
    The whole justice system is fraudulent and designed to victimize the common man.
    Watch “Bursting bubbles of Government Deception” on Google Videos
    or “Hidden Deceptions” at the bottom of this page:
    http://www.libertywealthclub.co.uk/main/landing.html

    As for how good al the statues are. If I built my own house, am I competent to wire it and to connect the gas hob – yes. Am I allowed to accoring to Statutory Law? Hell No! Why??

    So that they can confiscate a portion of the earnings of Electricians and Gas men, hire an army of jobsworths to police the system and supervise training and testing, and impose hefty fines upon anyone who competently carries out electrical and gas work as well as the odd cowboy.

    The reason for all this is given as “For the safety of the General population”.

    If the General population is so immature and stupid that it cannot look after itself it deserves to go the way of dinosaurs. How could mankind grow and evolve in years past when we did not have all these suffocating rules?

    How can people live and thrive in lesser developed countries, where they do not have this intrusive legislation and half of the workforce working for the Government?

  • southernjames

    Kent,

    You sound like a Brit. Do you live in Britain?

    If so, if I were you I’d also be quite worried about the slowly but ever encroaching, day by day, incremental surrender to the imposition of Sharia law. In addition to your suffocating Nanny State socialism.

    Oh, and how about if you go and actually read Henry VI. Then you’ll realize that Shakespeare was paying a compliment to lawyers, rather than ripping on them, with that quote.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    southernjames,

    Note that my endorsement of a legal system which includes liability for harm does not constitute a defense of our current system. The idea you mention (loser pays) is fundamentally playing at the margins, not the heart of the issue. Whether a system should encourage litigation (as ours arguably does) or discourage litigation (as a loser-pays system is designed to) is an argument more about litigation’s efficacy at preventing harm vs. its impediment to business and economic growth. Personal-injury litigation can be seen as a very targeted tax on entities who may cause harm, and thus the tax “rate” that best meets the balance of keeping people reasonably safe while not crippling economic growth is certainly debatable.

    In anarcho-libertopia, we will have lawyers. Any time you have a situation where disputes are likely to arise, it is often more effective to have a specialist come in to help you argue your side of a dispute. This is even more true in an anarchist society with no coercive legal system, as contract law will likely see very high demand.

    However, in anarcho-libertopia, we will not have a coercive legal system with the power to license (or refuse to license) lawyers. We won’t likely have a single legal system at all, more of a polycentric law system. Thus, anyone who can do self-study and hang a shingle will be allowed to practice law (if he can attract custom is another story).

    I assume, then, that when I argue disbanding the legal framework of requiring practicing lawyers — by law — to pass the bar is something you’ll support? ;-)

  • http://www.justenrobertson.com Justen

    Brad, I think you look at it as if all legislation is arbitrary and therefore should be encouraged or discouraged without merit. We want a system that reliably rewards appropriate damages and covers the cost of its own operation, nothing more or less. It seems a system of dispute resolution that has to pay for itself will naturally tend toward the most efficient, as one that encourages spurious litigation will have difficulty recovering its costs and one that discourages legitimate litigation will have a tough time keeping mediators employed. That’s in anarcho-capitalist land, though, not one where the costs of the court are largely externalized to taxpayers.

  • southernjames

    “I assume, then, that when I argue disbanding the legal framework of requiring practicing lawyers — by law — to pass the bar is something you’ll support? ;-).”

    As long as those of us who paid tens of thousands of dollars for three years of post-graduate education (combined with the loss of the ability to earn other income for those three years), still get higher compensation than Joe “I bought the book “Law for dummies” and “CliffNotes on Law” and lookie here is my sign over my door” Smith; and as long as Joe self-taught Smith gets held to the same standards of performance I’m held to, when the malpractice suits come rolling in against him, then sure – I’m all for it! :)

    If you’re going to go the “self study” route, then I think we’re going to have to simplify the laws — all laws, considerably. Don’t you? Not that that would be a bad thing. Thinking too hard often gives me a headache.

    I don’t see anarcho-liberopia coming our way anytime soon, do you? At least not during my lifetime. I’m seeing a period of Stalino-topia, or perhaps not quite as bad — Franco-topia for a few decades, first. Perhaps Juan Peron-Argentino-topia, or Hugo-Chavezio-topia. After our hyper-inflation induced Weimer-Republico-topia.

  • http://www.justenrobertson.com Justen

    James, of course Joe will be held to the same standards, and assuming you measure up of course you’ll get paid more. There won’t be anyone around to force wage laws and price caps to make things “fair” for the underachievers. I expect bar associations will hang around, they’ll be the UL of law practice. Otherwise you’re predicting far too many -topias for my tastes. Sorry to jump in on your conversation again.

  • southernjames

    In the legal biz, I am not aware of “wage laws” and “price caps.” There are certainly some pretty stiff barriers to entry.

    But with something like a 50,000 lawyer glut in just my state alone, the barriers are apparently not all that tough to hurtle.

    And due to the surplus of lawyers, the law school “underachievers” — even after three extra years (instead of two, as is required for Masters programs like MBA’s) and tens of thousands of dollars in loans to pay off, will often land a job with a starting salary of $38,000. (State attorneys office)…Compare that to the average starting salary of your average MBA grad (two years, which is huge difference) coming out of a graduate school like Purdue….

    That is, if they can find a job at all. Right now, nobody, and I mean nobody, in my region of S. Florida, is hiring new lawyers. Instead, young associates are getting laid off right and left. That news should make the lawyer-haters quite happy. Glad to be of service.

    My junior associate has a classmate – who graduated near the bottom of their law school class; and then needed three attempts to pass the two-day bar exam. After 3+ years, he is still working as a night manager at a Marriot Hotel.

  • TerryP

    James

    We will probably be seeing a lot more of what the classmate of your junio associate is feeling if we try to continue to push everyone to go to college. Not everyone has the qualities to have success in college and then find a job that pays more then they could have otherwise received to pay for all the college costs and the lost opportunity costs for not having a job for four to eight years. Colleges have become a sinkhole of money for many people as they get far in debt and then can only find a job that they could have gotten right out of high school.

    Maybe Obama should be telling kids to instead go to trade schools or go get a job out of college and see where that takes you before going way in debt to go to college. For many people four years of any job experience would be far better then a degree that has little relationship to the job they are trying to get.

    On the otherhand some jobs do need college degrees, but still they will be looking for the best and the brightest so just because you get a degree doesn’t ensure you will get a job in that field.

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