“We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.” ~ Ayn Rand
When citizens look to the government to solve their problems, they are demonstrating intellectual sloth in that they are showing themselves unwilling to look for ways to solve their problems without outsourcing coercion and violence against others to the government.
Once government imposes a solution, these citizens will hide behind that entity as if they are innocent of whatever harm may come to individuals who are negatively impacted by said solution. For whenever government imposes a one-size-fits-all solution upon others, unintended adverse consequences follow.
Government overreach, especially on the local level, is often a result of people employing the tattle-tale method of dealing with their neighbors. To a great extent, these people are responsible for the ensuing infringements on the liberties of all. To boil it down, advocating for government solutions that restrict liberties is like telling your neighbors, “comply with my demands or I will send the ‘authorities’ to do violence to you.”
We can do better than this.
While government solutions may provide the desired result for some, it is impossible that such imposed solutions will meet the needs and desires of all. Yet when government solutions become law, all are forced to submit under threat of government punishment whether the so-called solutions meet their needs or not.
Recently our City Council met to discuss the important topic of imposing a requirement on all Tulsa citizens to ask permission of government if they wish to do something as commonplace and mundane as hold a garage sale. Why was this such an important issue for our City Council?
Well, some of Councilor Karen Gilbert’s constituents who have not figured out how to deal with a bothersome neighbor they believe holds too many garage sales had asked Gilbert to propose a city-wide regulation on ALL Tulsans as a solution. Councilor Gilbert obliged, but the question of enforcement was just one of the tricky worms that escaped the can that this issue opened. A lengthy discussion ensued.
An indignant Councilor Jack Henderson rightly told Ms. Gilbert, “Don’t mess with MY community, because they haven’t told me anything.” In other words, the people living in Henderson’s district are either not bothered by people having garage sales to the extent that they would call upon their city overlords to clamp down on this practice or they have found non-coercive ways to deal with their irritations. Either way, it is not the role of city government to restrict ALL due to the complaints of a few.
Councilor Blake Ewing, in 1 Samuel 8 fashion, pondered aloud how it could be in this day and age that other cities have permit requirements and regulations for their citizens while Tulsa does not and made the case that Tulsa should impose petty regulations on its citizens because other cities do. He discussed how easy this could be with the use of technology. And why not?
Right, why not? For some members of the Tulsa City Council, the question is not so much “what OUGHT to be done?” as “what CAN be done?” .
All City Councilors and other elected officials need to keep in mind that their purpose is to govern in a manner that protects the life, liberty, and property of all the people they were elected to serve equally. When they step into the realm of monitoring, permitting, and restricting individuals, they have overstepped their bounds and have become illegitimate from a moral standpoint.
Citizens of Tulsa and other jurisdictions should remember that every human problem, every problem with your neighbors, every idea you have to improve society, your city, or whatever, does not necessitate a government solution. In fact, government solutions usually bring about consequences that punish people who have done nothing wrong. Try using the marketplace of ideas instead. Make the case for your creative solutions and win support for them through non-aggressive means. This will lead to a more peaceful society and better ideas for dealing with problems.
Governments on all levels need to lay off the people they represent and instead turn their legislative restrictions back on their own power.
Interestingly, the topic that was discussed after the garage sale issue at this City Council meeting was our city’s green waste debacle. The Councilors wrung their hands over how they could restore the people’s faith in city government. Irony.