War on Freedom Targets Yard Sales, Lemonade Stands, Fuel Cells

A form of totalitarianism is developing in Washington, as federal bureaucrats turn the screws on private citizens and job providers to obtain compliance with rules and mandates.

As higher taxes and more intrusive regulations take hold (while the dollar continues to sink), more and more Americans are turning to barter and other forms of private commerce between individuals. CraigsList, for example, is reporting an 80% jump in bartering activity by private citizens. And there has been a surge of interest in sites such as Barterquest.com as well.

Of course, the rise of the “black market” (i.e. the free market) is one consequence of political rules and mandates which are largely responsible for crippling our economy. But instead of letting the market work, politicians and bureaucrats are gearing up to meddle in unprecedented ways.

Overreaching regulation isn’t a new phenomenon, but what’s noteworthy is the increasingly thuggish edge on government enforcement actions against citizens found in non compliance with even the pettiest of rules.

It’s as if government officials are indifferent as to how their methods look. Some of them may even get a kick out of it. In fact, the power to boss people (and businesses) around is actually what appeals to some who choose government as a career.

Consider these steps the government is taking to micromanage the economy:

  • The federal government is poised to intervene in yard sales, flea markets, and against individuals selling any used goods that could be unsafe. Americans who slap even $1.00 price tags on used items are in danger of violating a new yard sale rulebook being issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
  • CPSC says yard sale violators or vendors at Sunday afternoon flea markets are now subject to fines of up to $100,000 per transaction and up to $15 million for the related series of infractions. Such federal insanity is mirrored on the state level as well: In California, eight-year-old Daniela Earnest of Tulare was ordered to shut down her lemonade stand by the city council.
  • Environmental extremists are being given guns and arrest powers. As a New York Times article acknowledged, environmental police officers are now fining and routinely arresting people for the smallest of infractions – from busting stores that don’t promptly redeem deposits on cans and bottles, to measuring the length of fish in public markets and arresting merchants whose fish are too small, to stopping trucks and fining their drivers if too much smoke is coming out of their exhaust pipes.
  • After facing a secret indictment by the Fish and Wildlife Service for making a mistake on tulip importation forms, Kathy and George Norris’ home was raided by a six-member SWAT team. The house was ransacked, and their computers were taken away and examined. George Norris spent two years in a federal penitentiary because he could not produce all the paperwork for the orchids he had imported.
  • In a recent hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on crime, entrepreneur and inventor Krister Evertson told the amazing story of how the feds prosecuted him on a felony for failing to put a federally-mandated sticker on an otherwise legal UPS package he shipped with some of his supplies. After the fuel cell inventor was acquitted by a jury, the feds invented new charges that he had “abandoned” his fuel cell materials. Before Evertson got his life back, he spent nearly two years in prison.

It’s like this folks: Bureaucrats no longer know their place. They are paid far more than most people with real jobs, given lavish retirements, and wield greater and greater powers over our lives.

It’s all leading toward what may best be described as fascism, as rapidly spreading bureaucratic parasites gain control over most of the private sector.

Tracking and reporting on these trends is one of the many services of Independent Living… and so is empowering our subscribers to protect themselves.