Rules Are Rules

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Got them authoritarian local gub’mint blues:

A woman fighting a terminal form of bone cancer is trying to raise money to help pay bills with a few weekend garage sales, but the city of Salem says she’s breaking the law and is shutting her down.

Jan Cline had no idea, but the city of Salem has a clear law that states a person can only have three yard sales a year.

Cline has been selling her stuff in the backyard for a few weekends and said she thought she’d be fine by keeping the sale out of everyone’s way.

“It’s a struggle,” Cline says. “It’s a struggle for me because I’m very independent, used to taking care of myself.”

She’s run businesses and supported herself for years but this summer she was diagnosed with bone cancer.

“It’s a bone marrow cancer that eats through the bones and causes holes in the bones so that just by walking I can break a bone,” she says.

In one day she lost her independence, her ability to work and earn an income that could pay for all those medical bills.

So she decided to sell what she owned. The sale was bringing in several hundred dollars each weekend until one neighbor complained and she got a visit from the city.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry. Rules are rules.’”


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79 Responses to “Rules Are Rules”

  1. #1 |  CB | 

    I really have nothing to add. Dave Krueger has already done a great job of saying it. You are a moral beacon, Dave! Keep it up. Keep the de-brainwashing coming!

    @ celticdragonchick
    > It is the membership fee for being in a modern society.

    “Protection” payments to the mob would also be the “membership fee” required to live or do business in certain neighborhoods. Taxes are no different. And yes, you can always leave but that does not eradicate the immorality of the shakedown–even if the mobsters used the money to pay for dying children’s cancer treatments. It doesn’t matter what they do with the money. They stole it in the first place and taking it by force, just as the government does, is immoral.

    >You can always go somewhere else that doesn’t have societal stratification

    This “solution” that you propose violates property rights, at the very minimum, but I’m not going to bother to explain the philosophy to you; you obviously are okay with the state and its double standards of morality, which is really no moral code at all.

  2. #2 |  JOR | 

    If you accept the legitimacy of taxation you accept the absolute moral sovereignty of the state, and forfeit any rationale for complaining about, say, concentration camps or carpet bombing campaigns. To say nothing about drug laws and SWAT raids. The illegitimacy of such things seems more intuitively plausible than the legitimacy of taxation as a “membership fee for being in a modern society” or some similar mystical nonsense.

  3. #3 |  croaker | 

    @4 And now the neighborhood needs to hold a blanket party for the “anonymous neighbor”. Yeah, they know who it is.

  4. #4 |  Tom Johnson | 

    #52 JOR The legitimacy of taxation is dependent on taxes being the result of democratic processes. We vote to tax ourselves or not, and our commitment to democracy requires us to accept majority rule even when it goes against us. The idea, prevalent in this thread, that taxation is theft is…well, the word “stupid” comes to mind.

    If a community votes to fund a community benefit — roads, meat inspections, national defense — through taxation, that taxation is not theft in any sense of the word. That sort of absolutism makes both rational discussion and productive governance impossible. There is no such thing as a civilized, advanced society without taxation or regulation.

    Freedom, perhaps paradoxically, is greater and more assured in societies that set limits and require certain behaviors. We would not be a more free society without laws; we would just be oppressed by something other than government, something that we likely would have no control over. For example, capitalism wasn’t stronger before anti-trust regulation.

    The acceptance of democratically agreed upon taxation is not automatically the acceptance of concentration camps and absolute government power. Your equation of taxation and genocide is not a sign of depth of thought. Just the opposite; it’s the sign of ideological rigidity and a complete lack of clarity. So yeah: I reject your argument.

  5. #5 |  captainahags | 

    To the various “taxation is theft” commenters out there- I’ve yet to hear a satisfactory answer to how exactly you propose to do things like maintain fire and police protection (okay, given the numerous incidents chronicled on this blog you might not want police protection. Whatever) safe roads, or national defense.

    Let’s just say that you pay no taxes and live in this “Galt’s Gulch.” Who exactly fixes the huge pothole in the road that everyone drives on in the morning? Since public utilities workers are usually paid with tax dollars, there’s none of them, and with them goes, most likely, the knowledge and equipment required to fix it. Not to mention the fact that there’s really no incentive to fix it anyway- Why would I go out of my way to fix something that’s going to take a lot of my time, effort, and probably money, when I’m not going to be compensated for it, other than the slightly easier drive to wherever I go in the future? And, since it can be assumed that everyone is reasonably logical, no one would make that kind of investment- everyone would just hope that someone else will do it.

    But- there is a magical solution! Everyone could voluntarily pitch in some money to hire someone who has the know-how and equipment to fix the hole! And maybe sooner or later, everyone decides to just get a fund going that’s non-specific in purpose, so that if more holes come up, or if there’s a fire, etc. it can be used to solve that problem. But then, the people decide that they’re tired of the few people who benefit from these improvements without pitching in, and so they enact a system to collect the money owed for such services- hey! Taxes!

    You may not agree that your taxes are what you pay for living in a specialized society. In which case I invite you to not use anything not 100% paid for by you personally or made by your volunteer effort. Hell, I’d pay your tax bill just to watch you try to do that.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The biggest problem with our healthcare system (bar none) is that is insulates the consumer from the price of the services he is using. And, of course, that is the single thing that is absolutely off the table in any discussion of fixing the system.

    The reason no one can afford health care, is because competition has been completely stripped out of the system. And because of that, it is growing at double digit rates even in the middle of a serious recession (even as everyone is talking about making it affordable!). About the only segment of the health care industry that is going down in cost is elective procedures. What a fucking surprise.

    So, sorry I don’t buy into all the self-righteousness vomited up by those who think they own the moral high ground because of their willingness to take other people’s money as long as they say it’s for a compassionate purpose.

    The problem is making healthcare affordable, not getting someone else to pay for it. As it stands now (and for the foreseeable future), our system is a political compromise between the medical industry, the insurance industry, and the politicians. The single entity with absolutely no power or voice is the individual and that’s the world where this woman lives. So pardon me that your bullshit about compassion doesn’t bring a tear to my eye. If there’s any factor that plays absolutely no role in the healthcare debate, it’s compassion. The only real debate going on is how to divide up the loot. Everything else is window dressing.

  7. #7 |  cryingAces | 

    @#43

    It’s a comment like that that sums up why libertarians will never be more than an insignificant third party.

    “The first thing the “Galty” types do is arrange a voluntary society. It’s not Galt’s one man submarine; it’s Galt’s Gulch. A community of civilized, like-minded voluntarists.
    The statist fellators always have contempt at their lips for those who don’t bend the knees and assume the position.”

    Feel free to ‘Go Galt’ anytime now bro, we won’t miss you.

  8. #8 |  M. Steve | 

    @57 “Feel free to ‘Go Galt’ anytime now bro, we won’t miss you.”

    The funny thing is, plenty of people already are. They’re all around you, and you’ll never notice them. “Galt’s Gulch” is not a location, because it no longer need be. Quasi-individuals like yourself, captainahags, and celticdragonchick, who insist on conflating Society and Community with Government will never understand the motivations of those who drop out of your grand experiment, which is probably for the best; the mill always needs willing grist.

  9. #9 |  celticdragonchick | 

    @CB

    This “solution” that you propose violates property rights, at the very minimum,

    What property rights do you refer to? The ones upheld by rule of law and courts paid for by your taxes, perchance?

    The usual alternative is mere acquisition by force, which has been the norm in human history.

  10. #10 |  celticdragonchick | 

    The funny thing is, plenty of people already are. They’re all around you, and you’ll never notice them.

    By all means, please continue. Clearing out deadwood with over-inflated notions of indispensibility is always a worthwhile pursuit, in my estimation. Of course, you reveal the hypocrisy of the entire “Galt’s Gulch” farce. Since it cannot exist in reality without a Deus ex machina like the perpetual motion machine in the book, you are forced to “mooch” off the infrastructure and legal framework of a society you do not actually want to pay into. You want the cake of civilization, but cannot stand the thought of paying for it. Therefore, you are reduced to theft.

  11. #11 |  M. Steve | 

    The eternal plight of the leftist is to know so much and to understand so little.

  12. #12 |  BamBam | 

    Slavery: it gets shit done.
    Taxation: it gets shit done.

    “We have a representative government that we elect to decide how it is spent.”

    Keep on believing that.

  13. #13 |  BamBam | 

    If one won’t answer a simple YES/NO question, dismisses it, and confuses multiple debate points, then there is no further debate that can be had.

  14. #14 |  2nd of 3 | 

    @36, it is never ok to forcefully take from one to give to another regardless of “the cause”.

    Yes it is.

  15. #15 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Slavery: it gets shit done.
    Taxation: it gets shit done.
    “We have a representative government that we elect to decide how it is spent.”
    Keep on believing that.

    Can I play?

    Utopianism: it gets shit done!
    Moping about taxes: it gets shit done!
    Infantile fits about “theft”: it gets shit done!

    This isn’t North Korea. You can leave any time you like and find a society with mores that reflect your own. Good luck with that. Keep in mind that you property rights here are upheld and defended with those taxes you are belly aching about, so wherever you go, you may want to be well armed and sleep lightly.

  16. #16 |  M. Steve | 

    The fact that CDC didn’t actually understand BamBam’s point is unsurprising (see #61). The grand irony is that CDC calls *us* utopian, but truly believes the following:

    “Most of the rest of us are willing to put up with the annoyance of some taxation in order to have civilization. We have a representative government that we elect to decide how it is spent.”

    Such a utopian delusion is a rare sight to behold.

    What has always puzzled me about you leftists is the combination of contempt and schadenfreude you seem to have towards a group that you yourselves admin hold no actual power in our society. Why do you care? Why are you even here, if we are such contemptible creatures who also don’t have any power? What exactly is your pathology? Are you looking for ways to assuage your guilt, as your subconscious is fully aware of the utter baseness of your “philosophy”?

    I’m serious here. Why the fuck do you people waste so much time here if we suck so bad and don’t mean a damn?

  17. #17 |  celticdragonchick | 

    What has always puzzled me about you leftists is the combination of contempt and schadenfreude you seem to have towards a group that you yourselves admin hold no actual power in our society.

    Ah. More of the left/right dichotomy fail.

    I am a Hobbesian realist (which means I am not bullish on human nature). I am not a conservative and I am not particularly liberal except for some some social matters regarding GLBT people. I own two assault rifles. Maybe you need to come up with some different labels for people who disagree with you.

  18. #18 |  M. Steve | 

    If it walks, talks, acts, etc.

    But let’s leave behind your deflection. Answer the question.

    Why do you waste so much time here if we suck so bad and don’t mean a damn?

  19. #19 |  M. Steve | 

    I also have a hard time squaring your claim of “Hobbesian realist” with this comment:

    “Jebus fucking Christ. You actually resent some of the tax dollars you contributed going to help people with horrible diseases.

    I have no way to express the contempt I have for you.”

    If you were serious about being bullish on human nature, then this position should certainly not be enough to draw so much anger.

    What you really mean to say is that you, celticdragonchick, are an enlightened ubermensch, who truly understands the needs of the masses, who clearly couldn’t determine their own best self-interests if their lives depended on it.

    Luckily, the moral depravity of a narcissist lacking self-awareness doesn’t really impress me. It may others, though. Go, then, CDC, go to the people, and let them know their enlightened philosopher-king savior has arrived! Stop wasting your time with the proles.

  20. #20 |  cryingAces | 

    M. Steve,

    I don’t think ‘going Galt’ means ‘sitting around and responding to liberal’s blog comments’. Why aren’t you out producing? If you’re not a producer then you’re a looter or a moocher.

    Also, where is your ‘voluntary society’ going to be?

    Just because libertarians have no power (even Radley has admitted before that the U.S. will never have a minarchist government) doesn’t mean we can’t call you out on spouting off bullshit about Galt’s Gulch, or hearing @CK say wordy sentences such as:

    “Once you have helped steal from me, I am not too interested in your motives or your excuses or your whinings; your a thief and all the high sounding rationalizations will not change that status.”

    (yet ironically misspelling ‘”you’re”), LOL.

  21. #21 |  M. Steve | 

    @70

    No need to even respond. Your own words spotlight your lack of wisdom.

  22. #22 |  captainahags | 

    I can answer the “If we suck so bad” question, M. Steve. It’s because I happen to believe that with respect to civil rights, many libertarians are in the right on most issues. So, I read the blog to keep up to date on the latest civil rights violations and efforts to prevent them. Where I get annoyed though, is this childish idea that you have an absolute right to everything you own, no matter what. If you had the cure for cancer but refused to give it out freely or at a reasonable price, hell yes I think it would be perfectly reasonable for the government, or for that matter all the people who have cancer, to gang up and take it from you. Ultimately, if it comes down to some people being a little worse off in order to prevent some people from dying, I choose to save lives rather than be a selfish, petty child.

    And BamBam, your hysterical comparisons of taxation to slavery are pretty over the top. Seriously, I’m actually surprised you haven’t compared the IRS to Nazis. Do you really believe that forcing people into a life of unpaid labor and brutal abuse is the same as giving up a few dollars out of your paycheck? And where is this yes or no question you’re asking? I seem to have missed it.

  23. #23 |  M. Steve | 

    @72 “I choose to save lives rather than be a selfish, petty child.”

    I quite enjoy the contradiction between the subject of your sentence and the thrust of your argument. “You guys are being way too selfish; instead, we’re gonna do things *my way*!”

  24. #24 |  celticdragonchick | 

    Why do you waste so much time here if we suck so bad and don’t mean a damn?

    It’s called wasting time for no particular reason. I could be painting Games Workshop miniatures, practicing Ballycastle Boys on my harp or reviewing calculus prior to classes starting on Monday. I am here on this thread instead. Go figure.

  25. #25 |  celticdragonchick | 

    @Steve M

    If you were serious about being bullish on human nature, then this position should certainly not be enough to draw so much anger.

    You need to reread what I wrote about human nature. To wit:

    (which means I am not bullish on human nature).

    Hobbesianism and pessimism are generally found together. Hobbes observed the insanity of the English Civil War and the murderous populism of the Cromwell era. He was an avowed Monarchist, since at the time, the English people didn’t do such a hot job of managing their own affairs. Many modern Hobbesian pessimists talk of the need for “Benovolent despots”, espcially in third world nations where rule of law is weak and education/middle class structures are largely absent(as was such in 15th Century England, to some degree).

    While I would not advocate such a policy here or other first world nations (We have a strong tradition of rule of law, good public education etc), I observe that human nature is universal and that our democracy survives only as long as we care to maintain it. You need only look to Hurricane Katrina to see what happens in a breakdown of civil society and lack of law enforcement (and you saw the breakdown with the police as well, let us not forget!).

    I am a geology major with a minor in American History. I am not an anthropologist, although I have taken coursework in the field. Nonetheless, I am perfectly able to obsorve historical patterns and evaluate modern cultural practices. I see no reason to believe that a “purist” libertarian society would be able to function without some degree of support fromn outside sources to gain skill sets and get materials etc, and it would almost ceretainly have to be small (less then 100 people) to avoid severe conflict unless a centralized “law enforcement” mechanism were introduced.

  26. #26 |  celticdragonchick | 

    I quite enjoy the contradiction between the subject of your sentence and the thrust of your argument. “You guys are being way too selfish; instead, we’re gonna do things *my way*!”

    Your insistance on property rights taking precedance over other people’s survival in the hypothetical is interesting. People being what they are, you should not be surprised if somebody comes and takes an item by force if that thing is necessary for the life of a family member. I would, if oush came right down to shove. I suspect you would as well. Other cultures who live a bit closer to life and death subsistance understand this all too well, which is why the Gware in Kenya don;t even have “private property” as we understand it. The cow is not owned by a family…the family has rights to the milk every other day, for instance. The cow is too valuable to the community at large to be a private asset, and decisions made as to whether it is traded or not are made communally.

  27. #27 |  Radley Balko | 

    People being what they are, you should not be surprised if somebody comes and takes an item by force if that thing is necessary for the life of a family member.

    So do you also oppose the FDA’s policy of forbidding private companies fro selling potentially life-saving drugs to dying patients because the agency hasn’t yet approved them?

    Other cultures who live a bit closer to life and death subsistance understand this all too well . . .

    Do you think our system of property rights and enforcement of contracts has anything to with why we’ve come so far from a subsistence economy?

  28. #28 |  celticdragonchick | 

    So do you also oppose the FDA’s policy of forbidding private companies fro selling potentially life-saving drugs to dying patients because the agency hasn’t yet approved them?

    In principle, yes. As a matter of science, I would not be in favor of doing anything that would prejudice a medical study, of course.

    Do you think our system of property rights and enforcement of contracts has anything to with why we’ve come so far from a subsistence economy?

    No. The development of Rule of Law instead of Rule of Great Men is not really connected with agriculture and advances in technology until comparitively recently (patent law protecting intellectual property, for example). Highly stratified and relatively advanced non subsistance societies abound in history without strong protections of property rights or contracts. In fact our very notion of private property is a very culturally specific more and is not universal by any means, as I illustrated earlier. Assuming that you advance out of subsistance by adopting Eurocentric (Anglo-Saxon/Dane Law…specifically) property rights laws has the problem exactly backwards and is unavoidably ethnocentric.

    Property rights are a luxury of excess production and role specialization. Communal property strategies in sub-Saharan Africa are a survival mechanism dictated by the environment. Note that you do not have the same problem in native American traditional societies in the Pacific Northwest, which had a far greater food productivity potential, although the technological capability was roughly the same.

  29. #29 |  Justthisguy | 

    When it comes to “rules are rules!” I am as autistic as the next guy, but when it comes to “that is just unjust”, I tend to get even more autistic and jump up and down and punch walls and things, dammit.

    That thing which Radley posted about is just horribly unjust.

    I mean, My God! This is bone cancer, arguably the most painful Godawful kind!

    C. S. Lewis, I believe, married a woman dying of bone cancer, so that he could better look after her.