I live in a Village. A 3,000 household village in a suburb. We have a city council comprised of members that viscerally hate each other. A typical council meeting has devolved into "Aha" moments where the mayor or the opposing group each claim the other side broke a law by saying the wrong thing or adding agenda items improperly and then asking for a censure vote. They are, in a word, pathetic.
These are my local partisans. Although not weighed down with party names, they act just like it, they want you to belong to Tribe 1 or Tribe 2, with the requirement being only that you hate the other tribe because "the OTHER tribe will destroy the village with their (crookedness, stupidity, laziness). Because we lack the easy metatag of "Democrat" or "Republican" to tell us who to hate, we actually have to pay attention to how each Tribe looks at the issues.
One underlying fact about both Tribes... Both claim to be for the people, and both want to control heavily what the people do. Both Tribes are huge control freaks with the only variation I can discern being a nuanced differential about WHAT they want to control.
Under the current Tribe, at least now I can put in a bird bath or replace my roof without being slapped with a "Red Tag".
I got a letter from City Council the other day. It stated that California had demonstrated that wildfires were a real thorny issue, and that the Village had decided, as a service to the citizens, to arrange for a sticks and branches pick up day in late November. Cool, I thought. Good responsive governing. I kept reading.
It then said that the sticks and branches had to be placed on the edge of property Just So, or otherwise they wouldn't be picked up. Hmmm, I thought. This isn't sounding so good. Last thing I want is a huge pile of sticks in my front yard that were not picked up if I happened to bundle 'em wrong.
Then came the list of "Approved" contractors who were authorized to do this work in my little burgh. Noticeably absent were the less expensive guys local guys... like the old Greek guy I use who always tells me that Tree or Branch removal is $X when we negotiate for the first one, then tells me, once I have agreed and his crew is onsite, that he can do two other trees for 1/10th X now that he is here. This "government service" was seeming less and less appealing by the moment.
The kicker was contained in the last paragraph, however. It stated that the City Council had voted to require citizens to clean up dead branches and sticks from their yard, and those that did not would be fined and possibly jailed if we did not comply. There it was. A big old steaming pile of government that I was holding in my hand. Basically it said that they had voted to make me spend $10k or more to their "approved" contractors or face sanctions. Nice.
I told my Dad, who lives in Ruidoso, NM about this, and he laughed and said the Forest Service had done the exact same thing last year, with its "approved" contractor list that did not include anyone he had ever used.
These Bozos I helped elect than came out and said that they were supporting Free Markets by doing this through private contractors. What a load of hooey. Government Fiat represented as Free Markets. Companies paying to become "approved" and then lobbying for the power of government to be used to force business.
Don't let people totally misrepresent the term Free Markets that way. Like I blogged a while back about my method to judge how bad legislation was by only its title ("Comprehensive Patriot Hungry Children and Mothers Homeland Defense Act" is a guaranteed to make toilet paper of the Constitution and what rights we might have left), the meaning of words are being intentionally mangled so that our underlying beliefs can be attacked. If "Capitalism" and "Free Markets" equal "Enron", rather than "Enron" equals "Fraud", then you have not so subtly equated "Capitalism" and "Free Markets" with "Fraud", although Fraud exists everywhere there is an exchange of goods and services. This isn't accidental "misunderstanding". If you look at the bankruptcy and criminal records of our US Legislature, you could much more easily make the claim that "Legislator" equals "Crook".
In any case, gotta get the government approved crew over here so I's don' get whupped by massa. No one likes an uppity taxpayer.