Here are three stories, each an example of government excess, bureaucracy gone mad. These are actual events; I didn’t make this stuff up. Your job it to figure out where in the world each of these events happened, and approximately when. First, here are the stories.
1. The elderly lady could not handle the stairs in her house anymore. Her retired lumberman/builder husband went to his woodlot and picked out the tallest, straightest best trees, cut them into lumber, and built her a new house out of them. The Local Authority came around, and said that the house would have to be torn down, because the lumber used to build it had not been government inspected. The old folks hired a lawyer, who hired an engineer, who testified in court that the lumber was much better than is available on the market, would easily pass inspection, and the house was exceedingly well built. The judge ruled that the issue was not the quality of the house, but the fact that the law requiring lumber be inspected was broken, and confirmed that the house would have to be demolished. The couple, in their 80’s, their property now valueless, were bankrupted by the legal costs.
2. The restaurant had been in the family for generations, but times were tough due to an increasing tax burden. The Local Authority came around and ruled that the tables did not meet standards, so the restaurant would be closed until all the tables had been replaced. The restauranteur scratched around to come up with enough money to put in all new tables, but when he applied for a licence to reopen the restaurant, he was advised that the new tables were square, and the authorities preferred round tables, so they would have to be replaced again. The family could not do that, and were made destitute.
3. The Local Authority built a dam on a small drainage stream, which resulted in a farmer’s field being flooded. The farmer protested, and asked the authority to provide a drain for his field around the dam. Instead, the Authority redesignated the field from ‘Farmland’ to ‘Wetland’, and then charged the farmer with an infraction of the law, for carrying out farm operations in a wetland. Farmland is valuable, but wetland has no market value, so this cost the farmer many thousands of dollars.
OK, now guess where and when each of these occurred, without peeking at the answers below. Got it? OK, here are the answers.
1. This happened in New Brunswick, Canada, within the past ten years.
2. This was in Austria, after the Nazi’s took over, about 1940. The restauranteur was Jewish, and ended up in the gas chambers.
3. This happened in Ontario, Canada, within the past few years and is still not settled; the farmer faces huge legal costs and possible loss of his heritage farm and livelihood.
All of these were solid, honest, hardworking citizens, and all were made criminals and had their lives ruined by bureaucratic excess. I will bet that every one of my readers can think of a similar local story. My favourite – the contractor is working on the frozen lake, building a dock. The safety guy comes around and fines him for an unsafe work site, and demands he put sand down. Then the environment guy comes around and fines him for polluting the lake (with sand?) and demands he remove the sand.
So, Canada in the 21st century, Nazi’s in the 40’s, looks like we are catching up. Kind of makes your hair stand on end, doesn’t it?