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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Power Perverted Into Tyranny

As we approach Independence Day, the following from Thomas Jefferson bears consideration (hat tip to Karen). Click directly on the image to enlarge it:


Commenters are encouraged to relate their views as to how governmental power is morphing into tyranny, particularly via regulation — for the greater good, of course. My example below the fold.

For example, on the local level here in Northern Virginia, zoning administrations keep piling on regulations restricting the use of our property (Fairfax County's zoning code HERE, and other counties have similar codes): a property owner here had better now leave a bucket or a ladder visible in one's own yard for more than forty-eight hours because the zoning officers may come along and levy a fine in accordance with ever-burgeoning county code. No wonder everyone's garage or carport is crammed so full that a car barely fits inside the structure!

27 comments:

  1. AOW,

    Although I myself do not like over-burdening regulations and such I also do not like unkempt properties as it lessens the value of mine.

    I live in a suburb of Detroit and have seen over the years an influx of former residents of Detroit (black and white) moving in and bringing their habits with them; garbage containers left out for days on end, broken-down cars piling up in yards, grass uncut,,,etc. and see no enforcement of ordinances already on the books?

    There are good reasons for some basic ordinances and if municipalities enforced just those there would be no reason for more to be created, as most that are are really duplications or reworded versions of the ones they do not enforce already.

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  2. Thanks for the hat tip, AOW... these words are as true today as they were 230 years ago.

    As for these HOA tyrants, don't get me started. While I agree with Christopher in wanting my neighbors to keep their house exteriors and property looking decent, it's gone too far.

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  3. Christopher,
    Although I myself do not like over-burdening regulations and such I also do not like unkempt properties as it lessens the value of mine.

    To a certain extent, I agree with you.

    However, regulations here in Northern Virginia keep changing to the point that homeowners can't keep up with the changes. What was not a violation last year may well be violation this year. The fine is $100/day (minimum).

    For example, it used to be that you could park your car with expired tags in your driveway. No more! BTW, I'm not speaking of a vehicle up on blocks. I did manage to get a special waiver while Mr. AOW was in the nursing home, and I couldn't get the vehicle relicensed, but I got the waiver only because of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    And the carbon-footprint regulations are out of control. For example, I went down to zoning administration to see if I could join the two houses on my lot; the houses are a merely two feet apart. The county would not allow me to join the two houses!

    One more example: one is supposed to get a building permit to build a wheelchair ramp. The wait time for approval is over a month -- a month which would require one to keep the family member in the nursing home to the tune of $10,000 for that month.

    I could go on and on with absurd regulations.

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  4. Karen,
    I live in what used to be farm country. In fact, when my ancestors bought this property where I lived, they had a huge garden, chickens (80 slaughtered every day and taken to a local restaurant), and a cow. We're not a "proper" subdivision, so we have no HOA.

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  5. Christopher,
    One more example....I can have a pile of firewood as long as I wish, but the county forbids that I leave out a watering can for over 48 hours. That kind of regulation is oppressive, IMO.

    Also, see my comment above to Karen. By "modern" standards, this property where I live is, by default, not up to those standards. In addition, the megamansions build all around me have made my property taxes soar -- never mind that I cannot begin to get that amount for what used to be a farm property with a small house as the dwelling.

    Now, if I could add a bathroom (only one here at the moment), I could sell this old house (maybe, no central AC). But the county won't allow me to add a bathroom! The carbon footprint nonsense.

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  6. I'd like to build another shed so that I can clean up my carport. Once again, the county won't grant me a building permit -- never mind that another shed would much improve the appearance and functionality of my property. **sigh**

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  7. The founders knew history and they understood human nature.

    Tyranny need not result in people clapped into dungeons and killed. Simple incursions on people's personal liberty is also a form of tyranny, since it removes from us our free exercise of prudence in the sovereign realm of our own lives.

    But it doesn't stop there. Unchecked, it will lead to oppression.

    Hayek told us that statist governments always end up violently coercing the people, because at some point, simple incentives and sanctions fail to work. For the grand statist schemes to be carried out, the statists much eventually do violence to the people to get them to cooperate.

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  8. I assumed tyranny in the sense of the word by Jefferson was not about local legislation regarding property management.

    Though I agree that liberalnesss mixed with beaucracy goes overboard (just look at what Brussels forces on EU member states), it is finding the right balance to ensure quality and standards that is important.

    Jefferson's quotes on tyranny was more to do with the theft of rights, dangers to freedom and even life by controlling greed from over hear in Britain on the backs of hard working souls in the New World and ultimately resulting in the creation of a great nation on principles of freedom, democracy and fighting oppression.

    I know that Jefferson is a favourite in American folklore and in particular the right and though I admire his work, we outside the US are reminded that the original Constitution in the US was still flawed by human examples that if unchanged would have been considered tyranny now. The Constitution created by your founding fathers enshrined slavery within it, it then took one century for it to be recognized and formally abolished and another 100 years to actually and fully be enacteed.

    If the objective, which I have seen in a few blogs that somehow the current Administration and the "left's agenda" is creating or has installed, tyranny - then I would argue no and that one should consider the draconian laws and instant public condemnation of those that disagree by the previous Bush Administration and its neo-con masters as being the closest to tyranny in modern day America since the games played by Nixon.

    D Charles QC
    Barrister
    Gibraltar

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  9. When you say "tyranny" most Americans think it means brown-shirted, jack booted thugs dragging you into the street to be shot. What they fail to realize is, that is the end result of tyranny. As Siverfiddle says, it starts out with simpler incursions in ones personal life and as sanctions and incentives fail (because it is human nature to be independent) then the state must become more coercive to implement their program. Our nation is surely on that path as government at all levels is becoming more and more intrusive on the personal, daily lives of citizens in the name of security, diversity, fairness, or saving the planet.

    One small example - toilet flushes. Some jurisdictions mandate tanks hold only so much water and flush so many cu. ft each time, in the name of "saving water resources". In reality most people have to flush these things two or three times to get everything down. The same amount of water is still being used. But as AOW points out, there are myriad other rules that a homeowner can violate without knowing it until they start getting $100/day fines in the mail. And these are way, way beyond keeping your lawn mowed and junk out of your yard.

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  10. Damien,
    I assumed tyranny in the sense of the word by Jefferson was not about local legislation regarding property management.

    I'm not so sure about that. The colonists did rebel against the mother country's regulations controlling the private property and the private businesses of the colonists.

    Old saying in Fairfax County: "First, they invented Fairfax County; then they invented the federal government" [the federal bureaucracy].

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  11. Silverfiddle,
    Hayek told us that statist governments always end up violently coercing the people, because at some point, simple incentives and sanctions fail to work.

    The slippery slope, indeed.

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  12. Alligator,
    they start getting $100/day fines in the mail. And these are way, way beyond keeping your lawn mowed and junk out of your yard

    The local government's definition of "junk" has gone beyond absurd.

    Before Mr. AOW had his brain hemorrhage in September 2009, he was a mechanic and worked on all the neighbors' cars. Sometimes, he had to wait for parts to arrive, so the car being worked on had to stay up on ramps or jacks.

    Well, one day, along came the county zoning officer, and he had a fit. Thankfully, the officer's supervisor saw the situation and nulled the fines.

    In contrast to the above aggressive police action to enforce local regulations, when my house was broken into, the officers had a lackadaisical attitude: "File a claim with your insurance." The case was closed with little attempt to locate the stolen item -- an expensive item of jewelry. More would have been stolen except that I unexpectedly arrived home midday!

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  13. Alligator,
    Yes, those toilet flushes are an issue here in the DC suburbs.

    Furthermore, our water use is monitored: if we exceed our average, then there is a penalty on the bill. When Mr. AOW came home from the nursing home, we did exceed our average because of all the laundry (five loads a day for a while). WE WERE NOT WASTING WATER! We had to use all that "extra" water for hygienic purposes. Of course, the water authority had no understanding of the issue.

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  14. What is commonly overlooked is that the "founders" generally were not concerned about a strong government but wee concerned about a strong executive.

    I don't understand Libertarians. They have little concern for community, culture or nation, really. They simply want an arrangement for the indulgence of their individual appetites and consumption. It's a flawed view like most others and becomes perverse when it is presented as gospel or as it is in the Christian world view, an extension of divine revelation. Dangerous and perverse.

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  15. Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant man and continues to inspire us 200 years after his death.

    He was absolutely right about the slow transformation of freedom into tyranny.

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  16. What our Founders understood:

    The entire constitution, in fact, is a tribute to the recognition, by the founders, of the nature of human weaknesses, and a paean to a structure which pits those weaknesses against each other in each branch, to the benefit of the people, whose given responsibility would eternally be to ensure that the limited govt they were given, remained just that for us to keep.

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  17. We've still got time to clean this mess up and turn around this ship before it sinks. The House GOP and Republican governors are leading the way with a multitude of ideas THAT WORK by lowering taxes and reducing government regulation.

    Get government OFF the backs of the people and the people will do the rest.

    Remember the words of Ronald Reagan: "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem. by Ronald ... government is the problem."

    Happy 4th of July!

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  18. The government is ignoring the fact that our forefather's sacrificed all they had to prevent what they are doing now.

    Stomping on the constitution, taking prayer out of our schools, the American flag is now offensive, and is dishonored.

    If I go on I am going to get depressed.

    God bless you, Aow!

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  19. I think some of it's meddling. Some of it though is just a good old fashioned money grab.

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  20. I think the founding fathers believed in having a system of self-government based on the ideals of having morals, and really most regulations, IMO, are really based on being considerate of others. So it is a shame that people don't just keep their yards in a presentable manner and instead the local governments have to spell things out so specifically.

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  21. Beth,
    it is a shame that people don't just keep their yards in a presentable manner and instead the local governments have to spell things out so specifically

    There is no doubt that many of these regulations in Northern Virginia have resulted from problems with the way that certain immigrants have kept their yards.

    But other regulations are tied to the greenie movement.

    Chuck also makes a valid point:

    Some of it though is just a good old fashioned money grab.

    And let's not forget how many zoning officers have been hired and are collecting salaries paid by the taxpayers. Once a government department is created, that department grows and grows.

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  22. As I think back over suburban life here in Northern Virginia, before all the regulations came along, there were a few properties that were messy. But only a few! People took pride in keeping their places looking nice. And when people got too old to maintain their property, neighbors helped out.

    Now, the strange regulations govern us.

    And I do mean strange. Example: it's fine and dandy to leave a fallen tree in one's yard (good for the environment), but don't leave a bucket sitting in the driveway more than 48 hours.

    I also find that the definition of acceptable appearance has become "sterile." Perhaps one reason is that people so often think of their houses as investments rather than homes.

    In any case, the happy medium of what a property should look like with regard to upkeep seems to be lost.

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  23. Not sure how we ended on a discussion of city ordinances but answer is quite simple

    HOA either agree to form an assocaition with your neighbors for mutual benefit of protecting the value of all houses in the HOA and thus trade freedom or dont but do not do as the LIberals do and force all of us to live under silly ordinances based on the whims of tryants.

    Good government is local government....

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  24. As to Duckys comment...

    Liberals preach from the pulpit that they are trying to protect us (th e common refrain is "its for the children") while they jam their version of how we should all live down their throats while loudly claiming it is we the conversatives trying to implement o9ur morality on others. However they are quick to say it is a moral imperative that we take from the rich and give to te poor as though taxes are morally just.

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  25. One of the most glaring examples of tyranny is our Department of Justice and their involvement in Fast and Furious and GunRunner. It appears that the goal was to further restrict our Second Amendment rights, and even to set-up gun dealers to take the fall.

    Ther eare so many examples today!

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  26. Nostradumbass's (Ducky's) claims are weak and his comprehension skills are nil.

    "What is commonly overlooked is that the "founders" generally were not concerned about a strong government but wee concerned about a strong executive.

    Then why does the Bill Of rights, enacted at the same time as the Constitution, and the highest law of the land; deal exclusively with restrictions on the Federal Government and delegate all powers not explicitly granted to the federal Government to the individual States?

    I'll await your answer...NOT!

    And furthermore, I'll correct a mistake you made in the second paragraph of your post:

    "I don't understand XXXXXXXXXXXXX Leftists. They have little concern for community, culture or nation, really. They simply want an arrangement for the indulgence of their individual appetites and consumption. It's a flawed view like most others and becomes perverse when it is presented as gospel or as it is in the Christian world view, an extension of divine revelation. Dangerous and perverse. "

    Life of the mind indeed. LMFAO

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  27. Warren,
    Great comment!

    I haven't been posting many comments lately. Exhaustion due to all that's going on in this household! I finally got some sleep last night -- a whole 10 hours.

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