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Milk police in Massachusetts: (HT: John Barry)

Brigitte Ruthman, owner of Joshua’s Farm on Dodd Road, has one milk-producing cow. Earlier this year, she provided raw — or unpasteurized — milk to three other people through an agreement similar to a food cooperative.

That’s not a typo folks. One cow. Three customers. And she sold ownership shares in the cow to her customers. They are part-owners. So what is she expected to do?

After hearing of this operation, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, or MDAR, sent Ruthman a cease-and-desist order in August saying she was providing milk illegally … she had to stop or obtain a certificate of registry or class A dairy license to continue providing raw milk.

And of course, the reason for the license requirement is to … ahem … you know … protect the public health. Because in order to protect the public health you should shut down farms and make them pay thousands of dollars in facility upgrades and licensing fees. Especially when over the past 12 years, an average of 66 people in a country of 308 million get sick from consuming raw milk or cheese products. How sick we are not even told.

any farm engaged in the sale of any milk products, raw or pasteurized, must be licensed to ensure protection of public health.

When queried, the bureacrats responded that:

“As part of its mission, the department continues to support agriculture across the state by helping farmers to streamline operations, providing business training and promoting local products and producers.”

Yes, of course. Making me cease and desist an activity that is mutually agreed to, and involves one cow and a total of 4 people requires streamlining help from bureaucrats in Boston. And what does it cost to obtain said license?

But she calls many of the certification requirements “cumbersome and unnecessary,” with inspectors telling her she would need drainage and septic systems, running hot water and plastic covers on the wooden walls. To meet the standards, Ruthman says, she would need to spend an additional $80,000 on upgrades.

“The income [from distributing the milk] is not enough to support the infrastructure they want,” said Ruthman.

And irony of ironies, one of the politicos in the one-party state that is Massachusetts, who has run unopposed in elections, and is no friend of freedom of association, claims that:

the department may have overreached with the decision, adding “sending someone out to Sandisfield to crack heads for one cow seems rather ridiculous to me.”

This coming from a thug who supports the bureaucrats in Boston cracking heads over insurance companies trying to raise prices to cover their costs – costs he is partly responsible for imposing. But never mind that.Finally, the farmer tells us the whole issue is about freedom of association, and heck if she isn’t right:

Beyond safety protocols, Ruthman said the debate is part of the larger issue of “food rights,” particularly with the recent trend toward local, sustainable farming.

“It’s the right to chose what you want to eat and what you want to drink,” said Ruthman. “The government is telling us what to do and people don’t like that.”

I look forward to Ms. Ruthman and Mr. Pignatelli speaking out against the government telling us what to do in all manner of other activities.

Hair police in Florida (HT: The Amateur Economist):

As many as 14 armed Orange County deputies, including narcotics agents, stormed Strictly Skillz barbershop during business hours on a Saturday in August, handcuffing barbers in front of customers during a busy back-to-school weekend …

recently conducted with a state regulating agency, targeting several predominantly black- and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Pine Hills area.

Why the raids? Because some black and hispanic men wielding hair clippers is sure to endanger entire communities. Right? The “best” part of these raids is that no warrant was required to execute them, yet another example of how your beloved government eschews the Rule of Law and engages in activities below the immediate observation of the general public. Why no warrant?

The operations were conducted without warrants, under the authority of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors, who can enter salons at will. Deputies said they found evidence of illegal activity, including guns, drugs and gambling. However, records show that during the two sweeps, and a smaller one in October, just three people were charged with anything other than a licensing violation.

So we are using a licensing statute to look for evidence of gambling and drugs? Well, my wife sure as hell doesn’t have any license to cut hair yet she does mine every few weeks. And were the thugs to come to my house, I am sure they could find something suspicious. I once bet in a Super Bowl pool. I like filling out March Madness brackets. It’s all for the public good I am sure.

With the exception of two misdemeanor marijuana charges and Vasquez’s arrest, deputies were unable to connect any of the illegal activity to anyone. Meanwhile, store owners reported property damage from the raids, including a large hole employees said deputies busted into a wall at 809 Barbershop in Ocoee.

However, several owners said the damage to their businesses and reputations has been much worse.

And of course, the folks that were raided in August were all illegally barbering, right? Ah, no.

If you didn’t know cutting hair without a license was a crime, you’re not alone. An arrest for barbering without a license is not just unusual — in the state of Florida, it’s nearly unheard of.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records turned up only 38 jail bookings on the misdemeanor charge across the entire state in the past 10 years — and all but three of those arrests occurred during Orange County operations during the past few months.

A licensing inspector determined that Strictly Skillz was in compliance and everyone working had a valid license displayed in plain view — but not before barbers said they spent an hour sitting in handcuffs.

One Response to “Dispatches from the Thugocracy”

  1. jb says:

    Hmmm. Says here http://www.injuryattorney-losangeles.com/suing_government_california.htm it’s possible to successfully sue government agencies (but it doesn’t appear to be easy).

    So … since the regulators exist to protect us, can I sue the state of Florida if I wind up with a bad haircut?

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