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In what is sure to have one removed from polite company, I suggest that the next time a public official tries to be nice to you, you tell them to f*ck off. My entire local government school is populated by very nice people – and they have just about put the final nail in the coffin of our Catholic grammar school. More on that in a future post. Here is Roger Kimball on how well the government is serving the people ravaged by Sandy:

Like many people whose houses were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, my family and I have been living in a rented house since the storm. Unlike some whose houses were totalled, we could have repaired things and been home toasting our tootsies by our own fireplace by now. What happened?

Two things: zoning (as in “Twilight Zone”) and FEMA

And in thee you can’t make the stuff up category read some of the details:

We’d met with insurance adjusters, contractors and “remediation experts … and everyone had the same advice: Rip up the floors and subfloors, and tear out anything—wiring, plumbing, insulation, drywall, kitchen cabinets, bookcases—touched by salt water. All of it had to go, and pronto, too, lest mold set in.

Before you could get a building permit, however, you had to be approved by the Zoning Authority. And Zoning—citing FEMA regulations—would force you to bring the house “up to code,” which in many cases meant elevating the house by several feet. Now, elevating your house is very expensive and time consuming—not because of the actual raising, which takes just a day or two, but because of the required permits.

There also is a limit on how high in the sky your house can be … Which means that you can’t raise the house that you must raise if you want to repair it.

And here is a bit on the “nice” people:

Kafka would have liked FEMA, too. We’ve met plenty of its agents. Every one we’ve encountered has been polite and oozing with sympathy. Even the lady who reduced my wife to tears was nice. The issue was my wife’s proof of income. We sent our tax return to FEMA, but that wasn’t good enough. They wanted pay stubs. My wife works as a freelance writer and editor. She doesn’t get a pay stub. Which apparently makes her a nonperson to this government agency.

In closing:

It’s not only us, of course. Thousands upon thousands have been displaced, but the bullying pedantry of the zoning establishment never wavers. While our house stands empty, the city authorities even showed a sense of humor by sending us a bill for property taxes. For a house they won’t let us repair.

Read the whole thing. Thugs. All of you.

6 Responses to “Dispatches from the Free-Market Paradise of America”

  1. Andrew says:

    Amusingly, the top-rated comment (at least as of the time I checked) says the obvious solution is more panels of bureaucrats to adjudicate such disputes.

  2. Andrew says:

    Okay, terrifying might be a better adjective.

  3. Scott says:

    I miss America.

  4. Trey says:

    Kafka, Hayek, and de Tocqueville, used together to point out nanny-state nincompoop nonsense. What’s not to like about this editorial? (Other than the author’s sad situation.)

  5. Dan says:

    My favorite line from the Declaration of Independence:

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

  6. Harry says:

    Even though we are being raped on a federal level (QE Forever, the EPA, et cetera) too little attention goes to what happens locally, and I am not talking about buying local.

    Even if one lives in a small municipality as I, it is easy for power-hungry avaricious altruists to waste not just the money and property, but also the freedom, of the people they regard as under their supervision. In my little township, we have called them Supervisors, which has led to their thinking their role is to supervise us, as opposed to supervise the road crew (three people), two people who do the paperwork for the approvals (!), and the $120,000 Township Manager who is supposed to, among other things, spend part of his lengthy computer time on seeking grants from the State or the Feds, so the next baseball field in the park will be financed with somebody else’s money, preferably from Milke Rizzo and all of his relatives.

    The Supervisors get to appoint members of the Zoning Hearing Board, who are unelected officials with judicial power, and the members of the Planning Commission, who periodically author the zoning and land development ordinances.

    This is where it happens, big time. Even though our ordinances permit me, I think, to repair a floor in my house without a building permit, and without having to raise thirty electric plugs an inch and a half, I have every sympathy for Roger Kimball, the author of that WSJ piece.

    I am getting sick of people who advertise their concern for public health and safety.

    By the way, our Supervisors enacted a recycling ordinance. They said they had to because the State mandated it, but I suspect that was to preserve their right to get other people’s money to spend on public services. It makes me sick. I am going to burn all the plastic bottles in the fireplace.

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