August 24, 2010
Support your local tyrants!
Government tyranny is hardly restricted to the federal government. Many people believe that the worst governmental tyrannies of all are committed by local government. New York and San Francisco have become infamous for regulating food and drinks, and San Francisco has led the way towards the use of invasive recycling police, banning the sale of pets, and much more. California GOP state Chair Ron Nehring was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying that "San Francisco epitomizes that local government can be the most tyrannical level of government."
I don't mean to leave out Los Angeles, though. Bankrupt though the city is, tyranny is nevertheless a booming business:
The City is $500 million in the red. Rather than do what is necessary - cut expenses and show leadership - Villaraigosa and the spineless City Council has taken to terrorizing the city's residents by slamming them with fees. This includes sharp increases in fines for parking and directives to the LAPD to "increase traffic enforcement".And you know what that means.
Need I mention red light cameras?
Insane as it sounds, cities are also busily installing RFID spy chips on recycling bins, so that they can snoop on people's garbage habits, and send in the garbage cops to collar the dangerous criminals who neglected to separate their glass and plastic.
And in my previous home town of Philadelphia, the greedy government bureaucrats are demanding that bloggers get $300 business licenses!
even if your blog collects a handful of hits a day, as long as there's the potential for it to be lucrative -- and, as Mandale points out, most hosting sites set aside space for bloggers to sell advertising -- the city thinks you should cut it a check. According to Andrea Mannino of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, in fact, simply choosing the option to make money from ads -- regardless of how much or little money is actually generated -- qualifies a blog as a business. The same rules apply to freelance writers. As former City Paper news editor Doron Taussig once lamented [Slant, "Taxed Out," April 28, 2005], the city considers freelancers -- which both Bess and Barry are, in addition to their blog work -- "businesses," and requires them to pay for a license and pay taxes on their profits, on top of their state and federal taxes.Via Glenn Reynolds, who adds,
As our profligate politicos get more and more desperate for cash, look for more stuff along these lines.Glenn also links Dan Riehl's post and Investors Business Daily, which says this:
Philly bloggers, as well as tax watchdogs and speech guardians outside the city, are understandably upset. If city hall can tax speech, it can tax anything. What -- and who -- is next? Should Philadelphia get away with this, other cities will surely follow. Constitutional rights are small hurdles for covetous lawmakers.Naturally, they justify their tyrannical behavior by saying they need the money. What I'd like to know is why they're singling out a few starving bloggers as "businesses." What about sellers on Craigslist and Ebay? Is the city sending out $300.00 invoices to all of them too? Why not? I am sure there are many thousands of precisely such unlicensed online "businesses" (which surely make much more money than bloggers do) so what gives?
Maybe I shouldn't be giving the tyrants ideas.
Of course, it might be that bloggers are seen as an easier target because they are relatively few in number, whereas so many people sell on Craigslist and Ebay that if the city went after them there'd be massive public uproar, with a resultant backlash at the polls.
What I cannot understand is this: what psychological mechanism causes so many apparently normal people who live in cities to vote for these greedy and profligate tyrants who then turn right around and regulate, tax, nanny, herd into crowded trains, and generally butt into the lives the people who elected them? And what's even more baffling is why so many of these same voters see their cities' very bankruptcies as a reason to vote for the people whose policies did it.
Really, I don't get it.
Is there such a thing as voter masochism?
Or is all masochism local?
posted by Eric on 08.24.10 at 03:56 PM
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