Filed under: Environment, Humor, Junk Science, Law | Tags: Bureaucracy, Michigan, Regulation
Henry Payne recounted this delightful classic — reprinted by the Mackinac Center — in Planet Gore at National Review.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a hapless bureaucracy in Michigan’s capital city, with careful attention to the rules and regulations of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994. Here is the DEQ letter to a private landowner reprinted in all its indignant, bureaucratic fury.
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
LANSING MI 48909-7973
December 17, 1997
Mr. Ryan DeVries
Pierson, MI 49339
Dear Mr. DeVries:
SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023-1 T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Montcalm County
It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.
A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department’s files show that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.
The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 1998. Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.
Failure to comply with this request, or any further unauthorized activity on the site, may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.
We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.
David L. Price
Land and Water Management Division
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s infamous regulatory war against beaver dams — the clueless, indignant bureaucrats had probably never seen a beaver. They’re really kind of cute. And they will never, never live this one down.
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Freedom, Liberalism, Statism | Tags: big government, Bureaucracy, Liberal lies, Loss of Will
Conservatives praise the free market. Liberals prefer big government, and many simply do not understand what the fuss is all about.
Alexis de Tocqueville explained it many years ago in his masterpiece Democracy in America. Tocqueville saw the transformation of a free society, not in melodramatic terms like a military coup, but as a slow, creeping death. The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in the tiniest corners of our lives. We will be immobilized, like Gulliver, by innumerable rules and regulations, hundreds of annoying little restrictions that become more and more binding until eventually we are paralyzed.
Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated…
Tocqueville describes the new tyranny as “an immense and tutelary power,” and its task is to watch over us all, and regulate every aspect of our lives.
It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd.
We are to be seduced. American democracy will end not with bludgeons, but with the emergence of a vast welfare state that manages all the details of our lives and corrupts our character.
The…sole condition required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community is to love equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced, as it were, to a single principle.
I came across a story, of all things, about a maker of bourbon. A company went “green”, but not as demanded by the EPA. Not forced by a mass of regulations and mandates devised by environmental busybodies or by rules passed by Congress “for the children”. Maker’s Mark was faced with the challenge of how to dispose of the spent grains from the distillery process. They turned to a firm called Ecovation. Do read the story of what they did with the thick slop that was once a refuse product.
Innovation? The government will produce innovation. They will create an agency, or perhaps a committee or a commission. They will appropriate funds, issue directions, establish rules, add mandates, a schedule, and a vast chain of command, a hierarchy that must approve each step. Something may be created, but it won’t be innovative or creative, for the impulse for innovation is stamped out by petty nitpicking, and bureaucracy is the home ground of petty nitpicking. In a hierarchical organization the next one up on the ladder must approve, so that the one on the next rung will approve. And so on, and so on. It is how societies die.
That is what the fuss is all about.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Freedom, Law | Tags: Bureaucracy, Crime, Overbroad Laws, Overreaching Officials
• The AP reported on a letter sent to Lisa Snyder, a suburban mom, by the Michigan Department of Human Services. She was warned to stop watching her neighbors’ children while they waited in the mornings for the school bus. Ms. Snyder was kind enough to do this as a favor for her friends who are working mothers. Preliminary reports do not indicate whether the warning letter was backed by possible criminal penalties.
• Small-time entrepreneur and inventor Krister Evertson of Wasilla, Alaska was arrested at gunpoint by SWAT-clad FBI agents. He was unaware that he had to put a federally mandated sticker on his otherwise lawful UPS package.
• A few years ago, Kay Leibrand, a 63 year-old grandmother was arrested by police at her home of 30 years in Palo Alto, California. She had failed to meet some bureaucrat’s ruling on how high her hedges should be.
• Retiree George Norris, 66 years old, had his house ransacked by armed agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His home-based business was cultivating, importing, and selling orchids. He ended up serving two years in prison, finally getting free of federal supervision last December — at the age of 71, for what amounted to paperwork violations.
In July, a bipartisan hearing was held by Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and ranking member Louie Gohmert (R-TX), where both Krister Evertson and George Norris’ wife Kathy testified. Scott is Chairman of the subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, so I suppose that’s it, though it seems a little excessive for a missing sticker and incorrect paperwork.
What is clear is that poorly drafted legislation or overbroad laws can be used to turn ordinary Americans law-abiding lives into a police-state nightmare. Lawmakers need to spend as much time eliminating bad laws and making sure that the new laws that they are drafting cannot be used so irresponsibly against innocent people.
Jennifer Granholm, Michigan’s Governor, has quickly called for amendments to the law that her Department of Human Services used to threaten Lisa Snyder for not having registered as a daycare with the state.
Thanks to “The Foundry” at the Heritage Foundation for this story.
Filed under: Conservatism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Foreign Policy, Health Care, Politics, The Constitution | Tags: Bureaucracy, Freedom, Government interference, health care, Liberal lies, Personal Freedom
How much are you willing to allow the government to interfere in your life? To what extent are you willing to give up personal freedoms? We have already been told what kind of shower heads we may have, and what kind of toilets we shall have in our bathrooms. Soon, we will have to change from incandescent lightbulbs to the fluorescent kind. California is considering outlawing fireplaces. When is enough enough? When do you get out the pitchfork and march on city hall or your congressman’s office?
Today, the Japanese government institutes its compulsory “flab checks” for all workers over the age of 40. To stem Japan’s “soaring obesity,” the health ministry has mandated that all waistlines among its 56 million workers over age 40 be below ‘regulation size’ of 33.5 inches (for men). Any company failing to bring its employees’ weight under control — as well as the weights of their family members — will be fined up to 10% of its earnings by the government.
According to government officials as reported by the Independent, 27 million Japanese — that’s about half of all adult workers! — have health indices (cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and BMI) that don’t meet ideal numbers. They will be targeted for mandatory medical intervention. That means compulsory medication, because, as we know, health indices have been set so low that most adults with normal aging will fall on the wrong side.
You can imagine the array of weight loss gimmicks and health and fitness machines now being marketed. And “special undergarments” for Japanese businessmen (girdles) are now popular. [Read the whole thing.]
This is happening in a country with almost no fat people. We live in a country where both of the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination want to install government-controlled health care. If you find the idea of government-paid health care appealing (and please remember that the only money the government has, it gets from you) then, having given them control of the purse-strings, you have given them control of your health and your body. It might be wise to keep the Japanese in mind.
Certainly a part of this is the current “fad” of deep concern about obesity, in the media. When the buzz reaches a certain level, bureaucracies feel they must “do something”. And that, too, is a problem.
“A free society, if it is to remain free, requires citizens who take the risk of standing up to be counted, on the issues of the day.”