Friday, July 25, 2008

The Unrelenting and Mindless Power of Government

One man's weed is another man's salad.

A Keyser pastor, I won't mention his name, intentionally allowed high stands of chicory to grow at the edge of his yard along the sidewalk. Chicory is considered by many to be a weed, but the pastor explained how the roots could be ground into a decent coffee and the shoots used for salad greens. Over and above that, he simply appreciated the beauty of these plants with almost silver stalks and lovely small flowers. Did it look different than other yards? Certainly, but who cares. It is his yard.

Apparently the city cares. Cars speed up Main Street and drug use is rampant. Therefore the city has to go on weed patrol and threaten to cite individuals who choose to allow a few to grow in their yard. He complied and cut the flowers down, but the situation is absolutely ridiculous.

First of all, it is a waste of taxpayer money to even use up the time to cite an otherwise well maintained yard. How can the city complain about shrinking budgets and even think about raising taxes when it uses its resources on this kind of garbage? Real criminals are out there, but we have to pay the city to harass preachers for what they choose to grow in their yard. The bigger issue is the loss of freedom. You don't lose freedom all at once, but in little slivers here and there. They count on the idea that it is more inconvenient to fight city hall than to assert one's right to grow a few harmless plants.

It all lies in the interpretation. What is a weed and what is useful? When did we grant the city the right to decide for us what is useful and what is ugly? The same danger lies in the enforcement of litter and cleanup ordinances. Government should never pass judgment on aesthetics. Most people may not like the commode used as a planter, but it is that person's right to use it as such. Not to mention the possibility that they could claim that it is art and get it protected by the First Amendment.

In cases where the public health is not directly threatened, no government should judge for the public what an individual decides to put in their yard or what they allow to grow in their yard. Government is the same in all times and places in that it is always mindless and relentless. Only a government properly restrained by the law can be trusted. Give government the power and they will use it badly in almost any situation.

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