Four Levels of Government Too Many

It’s not that difficult to criticize the federal government. I mean, I don’t think there’s anyone who can name something intelligent they did recently if they were on a game show called “Name That Legislation”. Be that as it may, there is one incarnation of government we tend to overlook or, in some cases, quite literally write blank checks to. That is local government. We tend to think it’s the feds harassing us, taxing the crap out of us, and poking their noses into our private affairs. And while that is true, no one can actually do that better than your local government.

Stop, look, and listen, as the old railroad crossing signs used to say. And I’m old enough to remember those and remember the days when a carload of teens tried beating the train, got nailed, and it didn’t result in ten new local laws and fifteen new road signs at the crossing. Plus a one-cent increase in sales tax to pay for it. People said, “Well, I guess they should have read the EXISTING sign!!!” That and the flashing lights and the crossing arm they went around. But, seriously, let some guy in your town do a “Hey, y’all, watch this!” and here comes the Spinster State to tell you not to run with scissors because you’ll poke your eye out. Or was that a BB gun you shouldn’t run with? Anyway, no one can pass laws and taxes quicker than local governments. The thing is, local governments are who can get you coming and going with increasing the sales tax. Now, they can pass increases in property tax to pay for new pet projects like the Macramé Pot Hanger Class at the community college. But not everyone owns property. However, everyone has got to buy stuff, ergo, the sales tax is where they literally rob you.

Of course, the sales tax is just money. Sometimes we just have to resign ourselves to the fact that taxes have been oppressive since they were first invented. That process went like this: King Iron Fist ran up some gambling debts he couldn’t pay for. Therefore, his advisors said, “My lord, you have a rather sizeable army. Were you to force the peasants to hand over the money to pay off your gambling debts, your problems would be over.” And, thus, taxes were born. We all know this. “We have to pay for the military and roads, blah, blah, blah…” Ok, yeah, whatever. But where we’re really getting nailed is in the fact that local governments can pass laws quicker than the federal government can even spend a billion dollars.

Don’t think so? Don’t think these local laws aren’t in some ways worse? Consider this smorgasbord of local laws: In one Southern California city, it is illegal to have a hedge or shrub in your front yard taller than six feet. I pointed out in a previous article that in Flagstaff, Arizona, business owners are required to have landscaping and plants in the parking lots of their stores and shopping centers. In nearly every city, just adding a room on to your house requires a permit from the city and a city inspector to approve it. In Tucson, Arizona, as I also said in a previous article, it is illegal to have “weeds” taller than six inches in your front yard. In some Southern California cities, knives legal in the state are illegal in those cities. Knives legal in the rest of America are illegal in California. Things legal in one state or city and not legal in others. The same with firearms. The same with raw milk. The same with raw milk cheeses.

That’s only a handful of local laws. The federal government didn’t go into a state or a county or a city and say, “Here’s a new law that only applies to you here.” Now, why is this? Because local governments are usually run by circus clowns masquerading as political officials. Some of them haven’t even LIVED in the cities they run for more than a couple years. It’s a well-known dynamic where there’s a quaint, local town that has it’s own local traditions. Let’s say it’s a hamburger eating contest, for example. Well, Vegan McDorkle moves there from New York City and takes exception to the fact so much meat is being eaten and manages to get into government. By some crafty buccaneering on the city council, Ms. McDorkle gets a law passed saying it is now illegal to eat more than two hamburgers at one time within city limits. The locals say, “Well, the carpetbaggers are ruining this town!” Right, but YOU voted for Ms. McDorkle because—wait for it…she was going to bring JOBS to the town!

We have four levels of government in the United States and that’s four levels too many, in my honest opinion. All of them pass laws of their own. Laws they don’t follow themselves or get away with breaking. Every year, more laws are passed. Laws you are required to know because the law says that also. Every American is, at any given time, in violation of at least four laws and doesn’t even know it. Because if you sat down with every law book containing laws that pertain to you where you live, you’d still be sitting there reading when the sun fizzled out and Earth passed away like a Stuckey’s in Clines Corners, New Mexico. Therefore, when we talk about “the government”, we need to understand that this is not just the federal government that presents itself as a political carbuncle on the posterior of America. It is all of the levels of government and the various McDespots that run these sacks of legislative junk food. While the feds are the soggy, cold French fries on the table, it’s the local governments who are the main dish of Tyranny Helper—just add local officials.

Again, look into your local laws and you’ll find at least twenty that make you shake your head and say, “Whose idea was this?! I didn’t know I was breaking that law!” Everything from the plant life in your yard to what animals you can befriend and keep as pets. Yes, ferrets are illegal in many places. The poor potbellied pig is on the ban-radar, too. Yes, the feds are bad. No one denies that. But when it comes to the government that’s actually in your life, it’s the local ones that have the feds outnumbered three-to-one. You have a state, county, and city all busting your chops and there’s one federal government.

All it takes is a bunch of whiners in your city to show up at city council meetings (held while you’re at work) to start crying all those tears and, the next thing you know, here’s another law. “Sniff…sniff…if it saves just ONE child from having to walk to school and get a blister!” And bingo! You’re on the hook for a tax increase to pay for a motorized scooter for each kid. The city council will, of course, call it a “common sense law”. Excuse me, but common sense can’t even be found in American antique stores. It’s too old. You have to go to antiquarian book dealers who deal in books older than the United States to find common sense.