A Weed Grows in Tucson

Once in a while, you see a small thing that perfectly illustrates the bigger problems as a whole. When my wife and I first moved here to Tucson (Yeah, I know, my bio isn’t updated, I’m working on it), we started getting people coming to the door offering landscaping services. I’m somewhat puzzled because I’m thinking, we’re in a desert here. What’re they going to do, move rocks around in the sand we call a front yard? Cactus is pretty much self-sufficient, the ultimate “minimalist” of plants that doesn’t need or want any mollycoddling or fussing about. A cactus needs humanity like a bird needs a rowboat. Cactus have a lot to teach us. So, why are these guys coming to the door and asking about landscaping my yard, such as it is? I’m rather happy to look upon the absence of grass and shrubs carved into the shapes of balloons.

The answer came because the City of Tucson, some time back, in an epic decision surely up there with the writing of the Constitution, passed a law forbidding an abundance or a lot of growth of weeds or other government-unapproved plants. Basically, it’s against the law here to have plants growing in your front yard taller than six inches. Now, they make exceptions, graciously enough, for cultivated plants. Wow, you can literally smell the freedom already! But it better be roses and not dandelions. And I got a visit from a city inspector about the “weeds” in my yard. Some government informant in the neighborhood helpfully called the city and fingered me, so the inspector said. Wow, that’s right neighborly of them! Really, do people have nothing better to do than run around with a yardstick and measure people’s plants in the middle of the night so they can run and snitch them off to the government? “I knew it! This plant is exactly six and three-quarters on an inch tall! This is a serious offender! If we don’t stop them now, who knows what will happen next!? They might even be the headquarters for WeedQaeda!”

Well, I told the city inspector these are cultivated plants, not weeds. Which they were. Those are prime eating greens! And here I am having to justify eating them to the government because they insist to know the name of them. And how they’re cooked! Which I did, and the inspector wrote the name down on the report, took photos of them, and went away and my wonderful, tasty greens received a government pardon from execution by weedwhacker. Now here’s what gets me. Here’s a government department and resources, tax dollars, and employees dedicated to enforcing lawn care. Or, rather, the government’s idea of what is a proper lawn. In a desert. Where stuff grows and, if you’re patient, dies away soon enough as the trillions of bones littering this desert will testify to. The desert sits there like an old man on the porch, sharpening the sun on a whetstone, saying, “Just you wait, sonny boy, just you wait!”

Another thing. Here’s a mostly liberal city, controlled by the same Democrats screaming bloody murder about climate change, overuse of fossil fuels, greenhouse gasses, and so forth. But here they are ordering the use of gasoline because all those weed whackers are powered by gasoline engines! This is why all those folks are asking if they can do your lawn care for you. Because the city comes and issues citations to people who have weeds in the yard and if they don’t cut them in ten days, they have to pay a fine! Remarkable! This is the Obamacare of lawn maintenance. “If you like your lawn, you can keep it!” Yeah, sure we can! But if we don’t “keep it” your way, we get dinged with a fine.

Seriously, why is it the business of government to go around and tell people to cut the weeds in their yard? “Well! Other people don’t like looking at them!” So? I don’t like looking at ceramic donkeys and fountains featuring cherubs tinkling into the water in peoples’ yards, but I’m not going to whine to the government about it. It isn’t the government’s business if people want to grow trees, wheat, barley, dandelions, marijuana, Venus flytraps, weeds, or friggin’ opium poppies in their front yards. That’s private property and it’s high time not just the government, but nosy busybody neighbors learned to respect that. Because you know what happens when we don’t mind our own business and beg the government to get involved in telling other people how to run their front yards?

Here’s what happens: We get the government telling Bashar al-Assad that he’s not taking good care of his front yard over there in Syria and an epic war begins. Never mind that’s private property, Assad must step down so people with better lawn maintenance tools can run the place. Unfortunately, those people are using those lawn tools to cut peoples’ heads off right now. Hey, this is what happens when the government can’t mind its own business because the people here don’t know what it means to do that. The government becomes the “solution” to everything from Syria to weeds in the yard. Then people call this freedom?! How so? When the government can come order you into your yard to chop down plants that weren’t bothering you? If they were bothering you, then you would have already gotten rid of them. “They were bothering the neighbors!” Again, so? Don’t look into my yard. Keep your eyes in your own yard. I’m eating those plants. You can eat them, too, because I’d share them with you if you’d just come over and been a neighbor instead of whining to the government like a good Soviet.

See, the government is the government from federal to local. They’re all cut from the same cloth. Or, rather, cut from the same neatly clipped lawns where not a free dandelion may arise before it is whacked down in disgust at anything that dares rear its own head without government mandate. Everything that we call “salad” today began as weeds in barley fields in the Fertile Crescent several thousands of years ago. Had American government existed then, we wouldn’t have salads because the government would have ordered those “weeds” cut down and thrown away before anyone could say, “Hey, these taste great with olive oil and vinegar!” They probably wouldn’t have gotten as far as growing barely or wheat because those are grasses that rather look like foxtails. “Cut those weeds from in front of your skin tent! It doesn’t look nice! So sayeth Grug, the clan leader!” And here we’d be today, squatting in caves, without having tasted bread once in several thousands of years. But our yards would look nice.

So when we wonder why the government meddles in Syria and elsewhere, remember, this all begins at a local level. Government doesn’t rule with the consent of the governed. Government rules with the whining of the governed. “Make my neighbor cut those weeds! Give me health care and make the other taxpayers pay for it! Make Assad in Syria go away!” Oh, boo-frickin’-hoo. Get a life. Respect private property. Syria is not anywhere near our property lines. Therefore, it’s quite obvious we have no right to tell them who can and can’t run their country or to go mow their yard or whatever. How about minding our own darned business for a change, starting from the proverbial square one? How about not whining that the local schools haven’t got enough money when you’re spending taxpayer money enforcing the plant life laws in peoples’ yards? Seriously. They say Tucson schools, all Arizona schools in fact, haven’t got enough money. Well, then stop wasting money on the Lawn Care Cops and put the money into the schools. Oh, no, the solution must be to raise taxes so we can have our nifty lawns and eat them, too. Wait, I’m the guy eating his lawn, not them. But I had to justify that human right to the government. Like I said, I was quite impressed with all this freedom on that day.

Again, the government needs to get out of our lives. This business of using the government against one another is pathetic, to say the least. I kid you not, we’ve got people that drive around the neighborhood looking for offenders they can snitch to the government about. These folks across the street just got hit with a citation and the dude was out there hoeing down the weeds in his yard. People who have nothing to do with their lives but encourage the government to harass people. Makes me wonder who went up and lobbied for the lawn care law to begin with. Imagine all the crocodile tears shed at that soiree: “I’m just so traumatized! My neighbor has these flowers in his yard and he doesn’t even know what they are! They could be al-Qaeda for all we know! They just popped up one day! I mean, we’re terrified! Government needs to act! Because otherwise, we’ll wake up one day and people will think they can just grow whatever they want in their own yards!”

I don’t know, my front yard is pretty tasty. Good hot soup, extra garlic, hold the government, please. But another plant springs to mind if you’ll pardon the pun. The famous poppies of Flanders Fields. You know, those red poppies they hand out on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day to remind us of the millions upon millions that have died thanks to governments that cannot mind their own business. How about those flowers, huh? I bet if they sprung up in peoples’ yards here, unannounced, someone would call the city about it. But they use this flower to ask us to remember their sacrifice. Excuse me, those weren’t sacrifices, those were slaughters. World War One alone saw men cut down with machine guns like Tucson weeds before a weedwhacker. Maybe one day we’ll learn how to be smarter than this. Maybe one day we’ll learn how to mind our own business and insist the government do the same. But meanwhile, we waste taxpayer money to make people cut down some beautiful green plant that came up in a desert to remind us that life will always find a way and the works of God answer to no man.