Monday, August 16, 2010

It is Not Enough to Comply

I previously wrote about the city's intimidation tactics regarding my burglar alarm permit. Several weeks before my permit was set to expire, I received an automated call from the city informing me of that fact and threatening me with a fine if I failed to renew the permit. I subsequently renewed the permit and thought little more about it--until last Friday night.

On Friday I received another automated phone call from the city, this time informing me that my permit had expired. Again, I was threatened with a fine. Had I failed to renew the permit, I might have appreciated this not so friendly reminder. But the fact is, my new permit is currently sitting on my desk. Further, my check cleared the bank more than three weeks ago. While some might dismiss this as further evidence of incompetence in city government, it goes far beyond that.

The issue begins with the city's demand that I obtain permission to operate an alarm. The city has imposed this requirement because other citizens have been guilty of sending false alarms. My actions are irrelevant to the city--I am regarded as irresponsible until I prove differently. Hence, the city treats me like a child with harassing phone calls. And just to make sure that I get the message, the city finds it necessary to threaten me with fines.

This is not an isolated incident. When a city inspector visited my office, he too found it necessary to threaten me with fines if I failed to get city permission to occupy the rental space.

In both instances my only "transgression" was a failure to obtain permission from the city to engage in certain activities. In neither case was there a claim that I had used force against another individual, engaged in fraud, or violated anyone's rights. That I operate an alarm or own a business makes me suspect, and my actual actions do not matter. It is not surprising then, that compliance with the city's demands is not enough--my actions still do not matter.

A proper government would use force only in retaliation, and only against those who initiate its use--such as robbers, kidnappers, rapists, and murderers. A proper government would treat individuals on the basis of their actions, not the actions of some group to which they belong. A proper government would serve its citizens by protecting their rights, not demand their obedience and submission.

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