Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Mortal Enemy to Arbitrary Government

Click image to enlarge

By Steve Huntsman

Never before in the history of man have a people been so free, so prosperous and, yes, even so blessed by the hand of providence as we are in America today. We have the ability to freely communicate over the internet, via cell phone or computer with almost anyone. We have transportation choices beyond imagination from ultra light bicycles to space shuttles. We can own our homes and businesses and even vote in elections.

I feel grateful to be part of such a free and blessed people. I comprehend it is because we have a national Constitution in America, inspired in its conception by a free people under God which has promoted these blessings.

After the signing of the Constitution, as the delegates were filing from Independence Hall in 1787, an anxious woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got ¾ a republic or a monarchy?”

“A republic,” said Franklin, “if you can keep it.”

If you can keep it! What wise words from the sage of Philadelphia. This, then, I comprehend is our mission, to keep the republic or to keep the (democratic) republic free from corrupt laws and protecting the house of order established by our wise founders.

We need to begin a conscious habit of jealously guarding our rights and liberties if we are to preserve these freedoms.

The method used in America today to defend our freedom is to establish laws with a sound moral basis, which allow for the common good of the people to be maintained. I ascertain that common good in a society can be accomplished in two ways.

One method is to pass laws which protect individual rights and allows for free enterprise.

A second method is to pass laws which impose or force the common good. This means giving a leader broad discretion on a case-by-case basis to decide what is best for the common good of someone beside himself. I hope the reader will decide to choose the first reactive method rather than the second proactive method as these two are indeed opposites.

Let us scrutinize an example of each.

Many years ago our judicious legislators empowered state and local municipalities with the ability to pass regulation to prohibit individuals from stealing life and property from one another. Now both killing and thieving in Utah are considered to be punishable crimes. Law enforcers, as well as private citizens, are authorized to not only stop a crime but also to use lethal force in some cases to prevent the theft of another’s life or property. Thus the robbery laws follow the outline of being a sound constitutional code based upon a moral principle. These laws reactively promote our welfare by empowering the judicial system (and the people) to the maintaining of the common good. Law breakers are punished reactively for thievery. Thus the popular phrase: Do the crime, Do the time, but not vise versa.

Let us now look at a proactive law.

Remember a proactive law can give discretion to one to promote the common good for another where no crime has been committed. That might be the case with a new law revised in the 2005 legislative session (SB60, U.C.A. 10-9a-102). A close reading of this law allows city planners to dictate at will the, “height and location of vegetation, trees and landscaping … to protect the tax base and (to) secure the economy … and (to) provide for the health, safety, and welfare … of the municipality.”

Trying to plant a tree in your yard without a permit could be considered a class B misdemeanor if it is not the right size and exactly in the spot where the planner told you to plant it. Or vise versa, that is you could be fined for not planting a certain tree which you were told to plant. This is a proactive law, which imposes the promotion of good before any crime is committed.

What is wrong with this? Nothing, except this is what our founding fathers fought a revolutionary war over. That being arbitrary government.

When any official using the basis of law is allowed such broad discretion by applying their own personal judgments on a case-by-case basis with such non-formal guidelines as listed above, then that law is arbitrary and capricious and is of no moral value, and as such, unworthy of a society’s respect. Law cannot randomly harm one to promote the good of another.

Are we not all equals? Have we not all been endowed by our Creator with the ability to think, to plan ahead and to act on our own? Or have our legislators been blessed from above with the ability to decide what location, diameter and height of any tree, shrub or flower arrangement is best in our yard before we plant it?

Shall we not all be mortal enemies of arbitrary government as were our fathers and oppose any seeds of tyranny? Or have we let professional planning lobbyists and activists corrupt our legislator’s tables to now proactively force one’s idea of good upon another before any crime is committed? We do this when we promote a city planner above the property ownership of another man with a non-legitimate purpose.

Let us begin today to follow the prudent maxim, “Would you live with ease, do what you ought and not what you please.” While we still can lawfully, let us stand tall and do what we ought and oppose this baseless law. As Orwell’s “Animal Farm” fable now has freshing meaning — “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Via: Weber Sentinel News, by express invitation and permission of the author and publisher, for which courtesy we thank them.

Illustration by Stephanie Cole

Well...? Have any of our gentle readers ever tried to run a project by Ogden City's Stalinesque Aparatchik Central Planning apparatus without being "dinged" for badly-drawn trees on a site map?

Tell us your planning approval horror stories, gentle readers, please... oh pretty please.


dian said...

Arbitrary government also goes hand in glove with arbitrary enforcement, which further erodes our national concept of equality.

You know, many in favor of city planning define it as a tool to help a city advance economically. But as is the case with many things, what was originally designed to be a tool can easily become a weapon. The whole empowerment of city planners has a huge potential to become a weapon against certain segments of the population which are somehow not in favor with those currently in power.

It is medieval and it is discriminatory, and I thought, in my more idealistic days, that we as a nation had gone beyond this, until I saw human rights that many had fought for and some had died for threatened to be overturned by zealots who believe that their way is the only way, and governmental intervention forcing everyone to go that way was the answer.

This in a country which professes to "embrace diversity." This in a country guarded by the Statue of Liberty, with its words, "...yearning to breathe free." It's only been a little over a hundred years since the poem on the Statue of Liberty, "The Colossus," was written.

Steve mentions the Revolutionary War. We could also add to that many other wars that Americans have lost their lives in to protect freedom. And here we are, surrendering our freedoms, which are, after all, our power, to appointed, not elected, people in what could be interpreted as a tacit agreement that they know what's best for us better than we do.

I don't think so.

Dorothy Littrell said...

Well said, Dian.

Most of the participants on this blog are not old enough to have remembered the beginning days of the Hitler Nazi regime. I am.

Our government is blindly heading in the same direction with the erosion of our freedoms.

This erosion is coming from Washington with President Bush's relentless attack on our freedoms under the Patriot Act.

It is coming from the failure of Congress to pay attention to the most pressing domestic problem in our nation - illegal aliens.

Taxpayers are paying for our own destruction by allowing local Redevelopmemt Agencies to continue to procreate and multiply.

We subsidize the dues to the League of Cities and Counties for their continued growth of influence regarding zoning and other rules restricting our rights.

We should say "no more" to dues and programs whose purpose is to impose more rules and restrictions on individual freedom of choice.

Hitler sold his program by scaring Germans into going along with him.

President Bush continues to play that theme on a daily basis with his speeches on terrorism. His emphasis is on the U. S. government's ability to take care of all of us.

The latest manuscript by Joseph Stiglitz, Economist, Columbia Professor, Nobel Prize winner, estimates the cost of the Iraq war will be $2 trillion dollars.

The time has come to look at reality.

The U.S. is as broke as Ogden City. It is just on a bigger scale.

The Fed won't be able to run the printing presses more than 24 hours a day and that will not be long enough.

It appears our government will be coming apart at the seams and maybe that will be the answer because we will have to start from scratch once again.

Marko said...

Speaking of arbitrary government and nazis, you should read up on John Yoo and Carl Scmitt.

ozboy said...

The answer Dorothy is quite simple.

The Nation or the City will not end, they will both go on and change will happen slowly but for sure, and not for the better.

The answer is called inflation. Essentially all government spending (that doesn't produce a product for sale on the open market) is inflationary). From the war in Iraq to Matt's Fun House at the Mud Hole, they are all inflationary.

One of the ways Matt's folly qualifies is by the $130,000. a month the tax payers of Ogden will be subsidizing the Bowling alley and arcade on their rent for the $20,000,000 facility!

Your line on the printing presses was most appropriate. However, although they can only run the presses 24 hours a day, they can, and will, simply buy more presses.

RudiZink said...

I was tempted yesterday to post an excellent Salt Lake Tribune story as a main WCF article, but I wanted to keep Steve's great piece at the top of the page for the edification of our gentle readers today.

Along with the propensity to regulate and micro-manage every aspect and detail of the lumpen masses' lives, big-government apartchik beureaucrats know how to feather their nests with fat salaries and career tenure.

You can read all about it here.

mutt mom said...

Re: Dian's first paragraph
"...arbitrary enforcement, . . ." and Dorothy's: "The U.S. is as broke as Ogden City. . . ."
Well, Mayor Godfrey's code enforcement snoops are alive and well and helping him refill the city pocketbook(s) by sending greetings from hizzoner to some residents on my street for having too much "junk and debris" in their carport(s) - but I guess you gotta pay for the mall somehow.
I think some of our residents' problems (cited above) may seem small in comparison to those of Ogden City, except if you are one of the ones receiving such a greeting.

dian said...

Good article, marko. Especially interesting to me was the idea that arbitrary government cannot function without the idea of a threat, or without being at war.

I have griped and griped about Ogden being a "divided community," and national politicians talk about the nation being divided, but the idea that these divisions might be a consequence of certain political theories being put into practice never occurred to me.

But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The minute you start imposing the concept of "the common good," there exists also a concept of "the bad." Has to. In view of this, the city planning vision assumes the tag of "the good," and any other idea, buyer, or developer assumes the place of "the bad."

I cannot begin to say how harmful I think this is. Many of us have heard rumors of developers wishing to come here and being turned away because their projects did not conform to the planning vision. If these rumors are based on fact, this modus operandi has caused a loss of opportunity here in America, land of opportunity. I don't know why people can't see this.

In fact, if conformance to the planning vision is set in stone, we don't need a city council at all. The plan is set out--they could hire anybody to approve or disapprove projects on the basis of whether or not they conform. One would need no particular qualifications to do this. It would just be like---We want a rec center there. Is this a rec center? No? Then goodbye." Very easy to do.

And, as I said before, the concept of city planning can be used unethically by individuals. It can be used to discriminate against those in one's private category of "the bad," while subdizing others one personally thinks "good." Even though both "good" and "bad" have basic rights in this country. And, as making judgments of this type about people and entities is human nature, it would really take constant vigilance to see that these personal biases did not creep in.

And all this is why the people who founded this country did not do things this way in the first place. They were probably heartily sick of government intruding into areas like this, and tried their best to ensure that Anyone willing to put in effort could succeed, and own, and make decisions as to what to plant in the yard.

Me again said...

It is interesting to me that people are bitching and moaning about the right to have their yards look like shit, decrease my property value because of their "carport collections", encourage rodent infestation by leaving piles of crap laying around, and planting whatever kind of tree they want (thanks to my neighbors and their junk trees our pipes are invaded by the roots and I have to pay to have Roto Rooter guys come by every year)
Especially since you are the same people who want to prevent Chris Peterson from removing plantings from HIS OWN LAND, making changes with HIS OWN MONEY, and actually wanting to attract people to Ogden on his own dime?

Ah the hypocricy.

Went to the sweet little presentation at Universe City about Malan's Basin. Was also in Montana when the natural fires caused by lightning wiped out thousands of acres. Chris is a tiny mark compared to what mother nature has done in the past. I also don't expect that someone would spend $30 million to create an eyesore. It's a bit ridiculous, but it does seem to give those doing the complaining a reason to get up in the morning.

If it wasn't that, they would find something else.

Oh, and about the Bush government - I totally agree. It's scary.

Anonymous said...


Curmudgeon said...

To Anonymous:
You wrote "Bush rules!"
Yes, he does.
Unfortunately, under the Constitution, what he's supposed to do is govern.
The last time the American people had a ruler was July 3, 1776.
Until now.

dian said...

Could someone please explain these somewhat cryptic statements in this morning's Examiner, page 1 of the B section, under, "Ogden RDA May Up Budget?"

The RDA needs to increase its budget to use a $3 million loan and about $1.5 million from the sale of about 4 acres northwest of 20th Street and Washington Boulevard to Ernest Health in order to purchase and prepare about a dozen properties in the first phase of the Ogden River Project. The RDA board would also have to issue $2.1 million in tax increment bonds to help repay the $3 million loan.

Where is the $3 million loan coming from?

Statement indicates that the land sale is a straight across land sale to Ernest Health. It was my understanding that tax dollars would aid Ernest in this purchase, and this is not mentioned. Which is the case?

Are there still property owners in the River Project Area who are unwilling to sell?

almanack said...

Dian, (the long answer)

From my studying on the Utah RDA code here is my interpretation of this News article.

The RDA board wants (like a drug addict) to desperately spend another $3 million. Because new RDA project areas are on moratorium by the State, the RDA board can only use existing RDA areas to get more money. (Not that the State code matters much here because Ogden is already one giant RDA, and there is not many new areas to declare freshly blighted.) So back to the point.

The RDA board accomplishes getting more money like most American’s do, using their homes as collateral. If the value of your home goes up, you can get your home equity loan amount increased. RDA’s are the same.

The RDA board looks at a blighted RDA area in it’s city like a cash cow because it owns it (like collateral). What the board owns is the future tax income to be generated by the property. It’s rather funny to think of this as collateral since they don’t own the property, but they do own an incremental amount of the future property tax because of the RDA code. (Not to get off the subject again, but these future revenues should be going to future legitimate governmental functions).

A key note to point out in the news article is this, “issue $2.1 million in tax increment bonds to help repay the $3 million loan.” This most likely means that previous RDA boards have tapped the well dry by spending all they could. Most likely the wonderful tax assessors office has since increased the home values, since the last “tapping” in the RDA area (odd considering this area is “blighted” and the home values are supposed to be going down).

So the increased home values allow the current RDA board to tap the well some more, and indebt the city with more RDA bonds. The RDA board certainly would have gotten all $3 million if they could, but the well only had $2.1 million. So the bond agencies will only qualify the city for $2.1 million because the collateral is not worth $3 million. The balance, some $900K will most likely come from a collateral loan on the property. The only difference; the RDA board is using your home and the future buildings as the ultimate collateral for their $3 million loan. This all sounds impossible, but is in reality what is happening.

The RDA board is borrowing (via tax increment bonds) against the future income to be generated by your home so they can build a private hospital today. The County and school board of education will now lose out more future income and so they (the County and State) will have to again raise the taxes on all of us to pay the future legitimate governmental needs.

The insanity of this law is based upon the point that both property and sales taxes will be greater in the future. This rational is like betting on a horse at the race-track. The only problem is, this hospital horse is lame because hospitals don’t generate sales taxes and thus income for the city.

If people really understood RDA’s, I don’t believe people would put up with them considering they are in-effect bribing private businesses to come to one city as apposed to another city, which under normal circumstances is driven by market demographics.

RDA’s are generally a negative sum beating for the County and community as a whole by subsidizing a private business of which 90% fail (like the Townhouses, the Sonic-Drive In, and first Ogden Mall RDA’s did). Who will be left to pick up the tab when market demographics are not driving these businesses?

Anonymous said...

Just a blast from the past....

Surfer's rule!


wall-fly said...

The Ernest thing isn't quite that complicated. The City will issue $3,000,000 in bonds (the loan); receive $1,500,000 from Earnest for the land; all at a simultaneous Closing with the approximately dozen property owners that have given the City "options" on the property defined.

The City's responsibility is to then relocate the former property owners, clear and prepare the property for construction, and Ernest will then put in the infrastructure and Care Center.

City's toke is approximately $2.1 million, repaid by TIF, which is just about the end of that stuff.

Bernie said...

How refreshing to see that some of us get it. I can actually hear the groan of recognition in the flagrant hypocrisy demonstrated by "Smart Growth" in their attack on Peterson's Malan's Basin project after their show of righteous indignation at a government that would have the nerve to tell me where to plant my bristlecone pine. Thanks me again!
And thank God someone out there recognizes the bigger picture of a President who thinks he can spy on his people without warrant or review. In Nixon's whitehouse we called that abuse of power and ultimately burglary. We have never been closer to becoming what we hate. When we piss away our freedom, who is going to invade us to bring us to democracy? We are the so called "beacon of liberty". Have we become so afraid of that one in a million chance that a terrorist may cause "me or my loved one" injury that we will allow someone like George W to walk away with our freedom "for our own good"? Is there really any one out there who believes he has earned our trust? There is really no one out there entitled to that kind of trust or power. This is the perfect example of power corrupting absolutely. W bumbles, maybe lies, maybe cheats, may be evil. The fully republican house and senate refuse to investigate, or even review with any desire to find the truth (this after $40 million spent to investigate Whitewater. My God, Halliburton is stealing more daily than the whole non-existent Whitewater scandal supposedly totalled). And soon as this new Supreme Court Justice is appointed, the Judicial branch will turn a deaf ear to power abuse as well. I can't think of a time in history to equal it, at least not in this country.

ozboy said...

wow Bernie, you're sounding pretty liberal these days!

You're sounding like you're from Ogden!!

May I paraphrase your long paragraph to reflect how a very large number of people in Ogden view their mayor?

"And thank God someone out there recognizes the bigger picture of a Mayor who thinks he can spy on his council without warrant or review. In Nixon's whitehouse we called that abuse of power and ultimately burglary. We have never been closer to becoming what we hate. When we piss away our freedom, who is going to invade us to bring us to democracy? We are the so called "beacon of liberty". Have we become so afraid of that one in a million chance that a developer may cause "me or my loved one" benifit that we will allow someone like Matt Godfrey to walk away with our tax dollars "for our own good"? Is there really any one out there who believes he has earned our trust? There is really no one out there entitled to that kind of trust or power. This is the perfect example of power corrupting absolutely. Matt bumbles, maybe lies, maybe cheats, may be evil. The fully rubber stamping former council refused to investigate, or even review with any desire to find the truth (this after $40 million spent to promote Boyer's business interests). . . . . I can't think of a time in history to equal it, at least not in this county."

Bernie said...

I appreciate the clever use of my words to try and state your own fears, but I don't see the connection as being in the same universe. I guess I grew tired of watching past administrations sit on their butts and waiting for something. We have been so spoiled by failure that we have excused inaction as preferrable. Meacham's willingness to be an honorary mayor at special events without really doing anything substantive was a far greater waste than Godfrey. Nordstroms asked the city to make some improvements to the mall and parking and assist them in their plans to build an "A" store in Ogden to replace their "B" store so they could compete with Dillards in this market. Such an action would likely have saved the mall and retained Meier and Frank in downtown Ogden. Nordstroms was the only anchor to give the mall viability and the remodel was desperately needed anyway. By doing nothing the mall predictably failed and the expense of tearing it all down massively exceeded what the city was being asked to do,not to mention the brutal loss of tax revenue (Riverdale of course says thank you). They also built the huge city works project on the corner of 31st and Wall essentially ending any opportunity to develop a business corridor on Wall at Ogden's only viable access to the freeway.
I credit Godfrey for coming to office with the goal of accomplishing a development plan taking into account the natural and developed assets that the city had available. His inventory showed potential for business development on the river parkway, potential to finally gain a development connection to the mountains(our greatest resource), find viable use for the warehouse space on Wall and up 21st, provide Hinckley Airport with the ability to become an industrial park and viable regional airport, develop recreation as a mainstay of Ogden's economy, and finally attempt to connect them all with the downtown by protecting and enhancing Ogden's successful 25th street and developing the mall site into a multi use asset with an emphasis on, again, recreation.
Some of the successes have been dramatic such as the IRS rehab of downtown warehouse space when they were proposing new building out by 12th street. This has turned a blighted area into one of the prettiest and most active areas of town, while bringing a strong workforce into the downtown area. The Kemp people will sing you the praises of this mayor in his efforts at the city's airport. It remains to be seen whether the high adventure rec center is successful but it certainly can't be argued that it does not fit into the Mayor's vision for the city and has already brought substantial additional development to the site.
One of the problems with strongly taking sides and resorting to name calling and labelling is that you find yourself hoping for the Mayor's failure to validate your "side". You can argue the reverse where people are willing to accept utter failure and doggedly try to call it success because my side has to "win". We see this painfully playing out with the "conservatives" against the "liberals" and the ruinous road the President has us on (which started this discussion). Never mind that W is spending beyond the wildest dreams of so-called liberals while increasing the power of the federal government beyond anything in our history. In comparison, the attempts by the Mayor to develop Ogden's assets, even at the cost of some of our tax dollars, is truly small potatoes. I have never been so proud to be a liberal in the true sense of that word. I just wish there were more of them!

ozboy said...


We do agree on at least two things. The horrible situation with King George and the need for more liberals, especially in Utah.

I just wonder what your take on Lord Godfrey would be if you were not related to him?

Bernie said...

Judas Ozboy, why do you keep pulling out that nonsense? The fact that he married my brother's daughter does not make me beholding to him in any way. I have fought him vigorously on many issues (one in particular where he cost me a fortune on an issue where I think he was dead wrong) and I disagree with him almost 180 degrees on most political issues, but this is a time for action in Ogden and blind attacks on everything coming from the mayor just because it comes from the mayor will solve nothing. Sir Thomas Moore said that even the devil deserves the benefit of the law or none of us do. Even I supported W when he attacked the Taliban.

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