By Karen Kwiatkowski
Whenever we consider the government bureaucracy to be a "machine" or to have machine-like qualities, we recognize that a machine will not tolerate liberty, and a machine can show no mercy. We are saying the government bureaucracy has no soul, and no heart.
When we consider, as we have been doing in recent weeks, the Internal Revenue Service, we joke as hopelessly as any prisoner in a cell of the "voluntary" nature of our income tax payments. We all know that we have no choice - and we all fear getting caught up in the bureaucratic machine known as the IRS.
But I want to call your attention to a local example of heartlessness and machine-like decision-making. Sadly, there are many example of how local bureaucrats hate liberty and despise mercy, but the case of the Mt. Jackson Farmers' Market is poignant.
Gerald Forsburg of Mt. Jackson bought an old unoccupied building a few years ago. Apparently some on the Town Council had hoped it would soon be condemned or made available at a rock bottom price. Some members of the local government believed the building was an eyesore. Instead, Forsburg, an architect, saw value in the place.
He started a farmers' market for Mt. Jackson vendors and residents, and it became popular - in spite of various barriers put in place by the Town Council. Early on, the street in front of the market was converted to one-way by the department of transportation. Later, requests to post signs for the farmers' market on Main Street, a stone's throw from the market, were denied. Last week, Forsburg informed his customers and friends, via mjfarmersmarket.com, that the Mt. Jackson Farmers' Market will not open for the 2013 season. The reason? The esteemed bureaucrats running the sleepy little rural town of Mt. Jackson demanded he pave his parking lot first.
Everyone knows you can't have a farmers' market without a paved parking lot. If the one-way street change and the refusal to allow farmers' market signs on Main Street didn't hurt the market enough, the silly requirement for a paved parking lot has done the job. Seems the Town Council exists to kill private enterprise, reduce the ability of local farmers to reach their customers, to deny Mt. Jackson customers and others of a reason to shop in town and buy healthy, local food.
There are many theories as to why the Town Council has behaved so stupidly. Some suggest that personal agendas or business desires of council members or their friends is to blame. Others believe that bureaucrats who know best what the rest of us need are running amok in their hubris.
Killing businesses through idiotic and aggressive regulations and codes seems to be the only thing our local governments are good at. Well, that and spending money they don't have and wondering where the tax base went. The council should be ashamed of themselves. But to feel shame requires that they feel badly about their decisions and their actions. Instead, it appears that they feel a great sense of satisfaction for a job well done.
Mt. Jackson residents and others have been denied the right to shop for local products on an unpaved lot. A Mt. Jackson business has been closed, and a chill message has been spread to anyone else who gets uppity and doesn't befriend all the local dons in Mt. Jackson before they start a business. The tax base has been eroded. The state - even the tiny ruling elite in a small town - cannot abide freedom and is a merciless machine.
Who can fight them?
Karen Kwiatkowski is a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, a farmer, a part time professor, and a liberty-minded conservative. She writes from the southwestern edge of Shenandoah County. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org