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Death by Government—This Time by Decree Rather Than the Usual Outright Murder

As New York City continues recovering from last Saturday’s blizzard, “at least” five men have suffered what “appear to be heart attacks” and died while shoveling snow, “according to an FDNY official. Three were in Queens, one was on Staten Island and another in Brooklyn.”

Now, of course, such tragedies can occur anywhere—but in the People’s Democratic Socialist Republic of New York, Our Rulers exacerbate these fatalities because they fine any owner of property who hasn’t cleared his sidewalk.

No, those cement paths in the People’s, etc., of New York, don’t belong to you any more than they do if you live in Cleveland or Peoria. But to save more of the loot it steals from us for bureaucrats, welfare moms, and crony capitalists, the City pretends that you do own its sidewalks with regard to upkeep. Owners of buildings pay when the City decides to repair “trip hazards” in the adjacent walkway. Nor has the serf any recourse from this “responsibility,” as Our Rulers grandly call their own dereliction thereof.

That “responsibility” extends to shoveling snow:

After the snow stops falling, if you are a property owner, you must clear snow and ice on your sidewalk to create a path for pedestrians. You must also remove snow and ice from sidewalks next to bus stops and hydrants.

If snowfall ends:

  • Between 7 AM and 5 PM, sidewalks must be cleared within 4 hours.
  • Between 5 PM and 9 PM, sidewalks must be cleared within 14 hours.
  • Between 9 PM and 7 AM, sidewalks must be cleared by 11 AM.

You may receive a summons for failing to clear the sidewalks within these timeframes.

Those “summonses” carry fines that currently range from $100 to $350. Naturally, Our Rulers urge serfs to rat out any of their fellows who don’t comply (“You can make a complaint about snow or ice on sidewalks in front of private property after property owners have had an appropriate amount of time to clear their sidewalks”). And, with a fine disregard for the budgets that constrain everyone but politicians and bureaucrats, it further proclaims, “Know what is too much for you. … In cases of heavy snowfall, you may want to consider hiring a service or a person to clean the snow from your sidewalk…” And what if New York’s overtaxed residents can’t afford to hire help? Ah, the City has an answer ready: the rest of us are to “look in on and help your neighbors who are elderly, disabled, or otherwise homebound,” because for sure the bureaucrats exempt neither the indigent nor the unfit from mandatory maintenance of its sidewalks.

Which brings us back to the five fatalities. It’s significant that they all occurred in the “outer boroughs,” i.e., not in Manhattan, home of the huge residential towers that comprise “New York City” in popular culture. Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn contain most of the City’s single-family houses; those home-owners are out there shoveling, whatever their ages, while Manhattan’s apartment buildings hire large staffs who share the chore; often, they even equip them with snow-blowers. But Grandpa Villein, who worked until his retirement as a cabbie or waiter and lives in a row-house in Queens, shovels his own snow—and dies, thanks yet again to the State.

 

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11:49 am on January 26, 2016