Fringe Goes Fringe
by The Fringe
I was born just after the middle of the last century to a state that had just over 300,000 people. I lived in the wildest parts of that state. A deer tag was five bucks; we got one for every member of the family over 14 and ate every bit of the venison. There was a limit on trout but I never knew what it was. You went to the river and caught what you needed for dinner. It was a time when a person went outside and did something and didn’t worry that it might be on google and some busybody might decide to sue you. You didn’t worry about driving on back roads without a license. You didn’t worry about grading or planting and you sure never registered anything with anybody until the stock got to the auction yard. Every pickup had a rifle or shotgun, even the ones in the high school parking lot.
Until very recently, I avoided, except for a few careless moments, involvement with government in any form. One learns how to live within the narrow margin allowed by law where one doesn’t need a permit, a license, or to register. The narrow line is now nearly gone; property rights have become property liabilities. Only the poor, who own nothing, and the wealthy, who are immune to serious loss, don’t suffer from owning property, at least in California.
Recently, for reasons I refuse to apologize for, I have decided to go legit. I want to have a large garden, a few chickens and some bees. I want to level a previously disturbed area, make some changes to prevent worsening of historic erosion and thin some areas which are overgrown. I’d like to bring in some animal manure and some green waste to improve the soil. I’d like to widen a pre-existing wide spot to form a lot for transitory and infrequent parking.
There is a different registration or permit for everything I listed, even though these are things an intelligent person can manage without government help. OK, so changing drainage and bringing in “hazardous” horse poop might damage down stream property owners. But, I’m not an idiot, so probably not. And the idea that we all have to have government involvement because some of us are idiots doesn’t fly well with me. Some of us are 5 year old children; should we all stop driving and only ride a school bus?
The real point is that the gray area, those areas which one could operate in without a permit, license, registration or what have you in getting smaller. The government wants to control virtually everything in our worlds.
There are two very easy to understand reasons for this: first, there are two to three times more people alive than there is room for. One of us farts, bubbles appear in someone else’s soup. There are just too many people for us to all do what we like, the planet can’t absorb it any more.
But the second reason government wants to control virtually everything is that government, but its nature, wants to control virtually everything. Blaming population for government overreach is like blaming women when men get horny. Sure, there’s a natural relationship, but we can’t blame people for what busy bureaucrats will do.
We had a great example of that last week at the Sierra County Board of Supervisor’s meeting. Our county bureaucrats are cringing before the potential abuse from state bureaucrats. Let’s ignore for the moment the sweet irony of bureaucrats forced to hear from other bureaucrats “it’s not up to me, it’s the law.” The real point is that the bureaucrats at the state have left the realm of reasonable, have lost all accountability, and have far too much power to make arbitrary decisions. That’s true of all government.
We needed government to get the worst of everything taken care of. Too many people were dying from drunk drivers; too many people dumping oil in the gutter; too many people drilling wells. So, we set up government to deal with the too manies.
But, once you pay someone to watch something, that thing becomes the only thing to them. Worse, you make them an expert on that thing, so now they can refer to themselves when insisting they need more money to do what they do. Promotion comes from having staff under you, so the bureaucrat now gives expert justification as to why more staff are needed. When more staff are assembled and they do research, it is no shock that they find that the problem is rampant. ADD, OCD, on and on, if you can find an expert to define something, you can now take that definition and streeeeeeetch it to fit other things. It’s the old adage: when the only tool you have is a screwdriver, everything looks like a screw. That is the way the bureaucratic rationale grows, and so purview grows.
By and by, you get enough experts wringing their hands, and enough staff dredging up every last possible case* and certainly some young legislator is going to make hay with it, or some go getter administrator is going to create new interpretations of law, and so on and so on.
Until, eventually, even though it is not the government’s business whether I keep bees or not, I have to register them.
How does your Fringe Editor feel about creeping government control? He doesn’t like it one bit and he’s F’n pissed about it.
Which is why it is all the more ironic that I recently caught hell from that crusty old Communist Don Russell, hoary editor of the Mountain Messenger. I want to see cannabis commerce in the county. It exists all around us, full legalization, according to the Lt. Governor, is just around the corner. I want to see licensing and taxing, in short, the government nose deep in our stuff over ganja. Russell thinks I’m part of the problem. He’s right.
But the problem existed before me, and because the gray space is shrinking, the white and the black grow. We have to register because registering is what we do for everything.
Is there a way out? No, hell no. Rome taught us that: bureaucracies are very, very resilient. The peole invested in them are fierce fighters and even those against them, like myself, have no alternative but to comply. So, I’d rather have ganja stinking with sweat from the Man’s hands than no ganja at all.
Maybe when this system collapses of its own weight we can do better next time. But, I doubt it.
Good freaking luck with that!
*If you add up all the statistics on causes of death, you’ll find the total of all of them equal more than a hundred. This is because if you, for example, drank alcohol or smoked tobacco, no matter what else you die of, those are considered to be contributory. Are you a gay alcoholic with diabetes you died of two things and are at risk of AIDS. Bureaucrats are magic!