I am an avid listener to a monthly audio magazine published by the Cato Institute. Several months ago, in a conversation about the threat that unrestrained government power can pose to individual liberty, one of the guests in that issue emphasized that if individual liberty is assaulted, it is more likely to take place at the local level than the federal level. This seems a bit contradictory. It seems like it would be true that the closer the people are to their government, the less likely the politician or bureaucrat will be to step out of line. But, according to this expert, ‘taint so.
We’ll leave the question of why this is true for another time, but for now, here is an example: Burnsville is a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the City of Burnsville likes to tell people how their own private houses should look. They feel so strongly about it, that they are willing to send you to jail if you don’t comply with their codes. We’re not talking about safety and health codes. We are talking about things like siding.
Mitch and Jean Faber are Burnsville residents who didn’t have the money (because of the economy) to put siding on their house. Earlier this year, the city arrested and jailed Mitch for two days because he didn’t comply with their ultimatum. Faber says,
“I’m walking around in a green and white jump suit, I had to shower in front of a sheriff, I was shackled, my wrists were handcuffed to my waist — for siding.”
After two days, he was released under electronic monitoring, which required him blow into an alcohol and drug detection device whenever an alarm went off, even if it went off in the middle of the night.