|Montréal, 7 juillet 2001 / No 85|
by Scott Carpenter
Citizens of British Columbia who are fed up with an intrusive and bossy government on both the federal and local level may find some satisfaction in a story that comes to us by way of a small town in Georgia, USA called Lithia Springs.
It seems that residents of that community who were tired of bureaucratic inefficiency, waste, regulation and general corruption decided to do something that's never been tried before: they got rid of their own government – completely.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
What do we need government for?
The experience of Lithia Springs brings into debate some interesting questions – primarily that of exactly what purpose it is government should serve. The English tradition of government and law as adopted by our Southern neighbours (and forgotten by our British cousins and our own politicians) is that government (and law) exists simply to protect the rights of the citizens that comprise a particular society and that government is the servant – not the master – of those people in any given political region. In short: the government that governs least governs best.
Not many would find fault with this viewpoint as it is based not simply on tradition but experience as well – a society flourishes when its citizens are free to interact socially and commercially without interference from the state. A society whose citizens are badgered, regulated, harassed and taxed half to death soon finds itself unable to pay for the most basic of services. Capital (where taxes are drawn from) does not remain where the cost of doing business skyrockets because of political and legal barriers.
The difference in the economies of British Columbia and Alberta over the past 10 years demonstrate quite adequately how the free market operates and what happens when it is hindered by greedy or even
And as residents of Lithia Springs recently discovered the same principle applies as much to local government as it does to provincial, state or federal. And from their experience we too should learn. There are other (and better) ways to do things than to allow local bureaucrats to run amuck, shutting down businesses and restricting the use of private property simply so that in exchange we may benefit from the few basic services the city provides. Indeed, whenever we pass a new law or regulation, that makes it more costly for businesses or private individuals to expand their capital and wealth everyone in the community suffers. Perhaps one of the best examples of late comes from the small northern BC community in which I live.
Creative and intelligent creatures use woodstoves
Here in the north soaring gas prices have made simply heating one's home and business a major financial burden. But human beings, being the creative and intelligent creatures they are, do find ways around such problems. Many of us (myself included) have installed woodstoves in our homes and simply use our gas and electric heat as back up. This is inefficient but does cut gas costs significantly enough to warrant a few weekends a summer slaving away with a chainsaw in the bush.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) time is money and not everyone has the time to cut and split that much wood. So, enter the outdoor wood/coal burning hot water heating furnace. The concept is simple, an outdoor large wood/coal stove about the size of a small garden shed that you stoke just once a day. It heats your water and hooks directly into the preexisting forced air furnace in your home. It takes four foot long chunks of wood and will even burn them when they are green. It's also CSA approved and to date – perhaps because they are separate from the actual dwelling –, I've not heard of a single case of one causing harm nor death to a single human being due to burning a house to the ground.
Yet, in their infinite wisdom, our city council has voted to ban the ownership and use of these little miracles within city limits.
Because of one man's ignorance
The report that sparked this decision was written by our local by-law enforcement officer and reads like something out of a piece of fiction. Although in the beginning of the report our officer is concerned about the environmental impact these stoves will have in our community due to widespread use (actually these units are probably cleaner burning than our legally owned woodstoves) he later states that one of the reasons he believes they may need to be prohibited is because they are so expensive that only
Good grief. Where do these guys come from anyway???
The effect this irrational
But small business is a different matter altogether. Some businesses pay upwards of eight or ten thousand dollars a year just to heat their facilities. One of those furnaces would pay for itself in a single subarctic winter. The money that our business would save on gas costs alone could have gone into a pension plan, updates to the store or a raise for the staff. Consequently, the purchase of just a few of those units by local businesses would have increased the capital of the new startup furnace company and may have created more Canadian jobs as a result. But because of one man's ignorance and a city council's stupidity our business will not benefit and those new jobs have no chance at becoming a reality.
Ultimately, this is far too much power for a small group of busy bodies to have solely in their own hands. If the citizens of Dawson Creek, BC were smart they'd be closely studying the events in Lithia Springs, Georgia and making plans to dissolve their own government so that finally they too could get on with business.
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