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Driving ourselves to Oblivion

Steve Campbell

For those of you who still think tons of rules help us live a utopic life, with everything in control and nothing left to worry about, I will continue with my rant from last issue.
Loads of legislation makes us – well, stupid. It removes from our own hands responsibility for our own actions. It holds others responsible for our mistakes, and the courts are packed with people who did something stupid, and want to sue the people who did not put up signs like: “Do not climb over the railing” at Niagara Falls, or “High Voltage – do NOT touch these wires with your tongue!”
Remember the elderly gent who decided to jump the four-foot trench at the Bath 1812 celebration? You can bet he would sue – and successfully – because the yellow Do Not Cross tape had vanished somewhere.
For God’s sake! We consider ourselves to be smart individuals, but we dumb down when Mother Ontario takes over – we give away our personal investment in staying safe and healthy.
We become like six-year-olds: “Yes, Your Honour, my mother did tell me not to touch the hot stove, but there were no set-back yellow ribbons or orange cones in place to warn me that it was not a good idea to touch the hot stove. I am also filing a grievance with the mother’s union, to see if I can have her disbarred.”
Remember when we used to use our heads? “Hmmm, that looks dangerous. Maybe I should not walk into that human-sized microwave oven and close the door … even though there are no evident signs posted.”
Far from making us a better, safer society, the government has dulled us into a state of coddled obliviousness, in which everyone else is at fault for our own blithe ignorance.
So, back to out-of-control bureaucracy, as I promised last time.
I have some meaty stuff, but first here’s a good one told to me by a friend.
Her mother died, so she dutifully informed the government of the change, along with the death certificate.
But the government cheques kept coming. She didn’t cash them, even though she had a joint account. She just sent a reminder, again, to the government.
After six months of receiving cheques that would not stop, she said, “Screw it,” and deposited them. Then she sent a letter: “As I have informed you, my mother died on (date). I have checked regularly, and have determined that she is still dead. I do not expect her condition to improve in the near future. Please stop sending the cheques.”
That got action. She received a nasty letter asking her to cough up the money they had sent, or they would charge her with defrauding the government, with accompanying fines and possible jail term.
She did, of course. But I still think this a sweet, if painful, example of the slowly-grinding machines that run our country and our province.
Quite simply, the government is digging into our lives more and more every single day. And there’s no shortage of money for teams of people to enforce the rules.
I talked to a restaurant owner who had officials walk in and demand entry, to measure the length of local fish. The fish were purchased from Harrison Fisheries, where they had already been measured.
This costs money – lots of money – to protect us from – nothing!
McGuinty is carving a legacy path to destroy land and wildlife for IWTs, but I still hear stories of people fined for cutting cattails away from their boat dock, or re-trenching an overgrown farm drainage ditch which is now “a natural habitat for tadpoles,” even though the farmer created that ditch.
Here’s another story from a restaurant owner, who reported the events to me in typical Word on the Street fashion. I have no reason to doubt the voracity of this story.
He refused to pay a $150 bill for a cursory inspection of his propane system, which was determined to be safe and proper. His reasoning: He doesn’t give money to a person and a company he’s never heard of, for peeking at his system. All of his municipal inspectors did not charge for inspections, it was paid for in his taxes. This, in the end, was a provincial inspector, contracted by the government through legislation no-one heard about, and seemingly duplicating the work of the local inspectors.
Then all hell broke loose. Within hours he had the fire department, Hydro One and other local agencies on his site. In short order, he suddenly needed $3,000 in upgrades to operate ‘safely’ – none of them health- or food-related. An independent was brought in, and offered a $3,000 contract to set things right.
This all happened near the long weekend in July, which is prime time for restaurants. The owner said, “We’re losing our best season, what do we do in the meantime?”
The worker said, “If you sign the contract, we’ll come in and do the work in the winter.”
The owner said, “Wait a minute, are you saying if I sign the contract I am suddenly safe to operate, but if I don’t sign, I’m not?”
He shrugged and said, that’s pretty much it. This is what is called a ‘protection racket’ in the Mafia world.
Meanwhile the place is closed, and everyone in the community is wondering what horrible things have happened inside the restaurant, and rumours flew.
While trying to sort this out, suddenly the propane supplier came in and lifted their propane tank. The owner doesn’t know who called the supplier, as he was told he had another week to indicate compliance with the original order for upgrades.
Part of the order was to weld a vent pipe together permanently. The owner pointed out that it was manufactured to be disassembled, as it needed to be cleaned out three times per season. He was told to weld it shut, and bring in a welder to de-weld and re-weld the joint for cleaning three times each year.
Fortunately customers and friends got involved and the problem is slowly resolving.
Probably a lot of people can’t identify with that story, but if you ever try to renovate your home, or dig a trench, it will activate the very machine I’m trying to warn you about.
One of my customers wanted to dig a trench to drain his flooded land, along with the land of his four neighbours. It was a $1500 project, and everybody was in for a $300 share. Six and a half months later, the project is now $15,000, with more ministry hurdles left to cross.
This is a job a farmer used to do in a half hour on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a 3-furrow plough.
Please wake up! We are being neutered daily by stupid legislation, dispensed arbitrarily by those who wield the Holy RuleBook.
And make no mistake. In this modern world, you are guilty until proven innocent. And we all seem to like it that way.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. Paul Cole says:

    My understanding is if you can stand on one foot rub your belly and pat your head all whilst whistling the National Anthem you can get around any regulations,and free room and board on the third floor.

  2. Marnie says:

    Steve is absolutely right. Nobody wants to go back to 1912 but if the government continues with its idiocies we will eventually be strangled by rules and regulations. Are their valid reasons for all of the rules and complicated procedures that we must live by today? It seems that frustrating as they are they do provide high-paying jobs for a lot of bureaucrats. And btw, Fed-up, it was clever of you to observe that Steve apparently does not know his veracity from his voracity but it is fairly obvious that it was a typo not blatant misuse of a word. Are you a government Blooper Snooper by any chance? What is the punishment for Steve’s unpardonable error? Will he be soundly thumped with a dictionary for his mistake? The government has a job waiting for you, Fed-Up.

  3. fed up says:

    more exaggeration for entertainment.Yes, let’s go back to the days of Mike Harris, where removal of government services and lack of oversight led to the disaster at Walkerton, among other boondoggles. Remember “the common sense revolution”? Wake up; it’s 2012, not 1912. btw–it’s veracity, not voracity.

  4. Doris Lane says:

    Everyone read Chris Keens post==itsays it all

  5. Beth says:

    3 Posts, impressive.

  6. Chris Keen says:

    This was sent to me by a friend who knew Common Sense, I feel compelled to share:

    Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

    Knowing when to come in out of the rain; accidents may happen; If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it; why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn’t always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

    Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

    His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

    Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

    It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

    Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home but the burglar could sue you for assault.

    Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little on her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

    Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion, his daughters, Responsibility and Integrity and his son, Reason.

    He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights; I Want It Now; Someone Else Is To Blame and I’m A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

  7. Doris Lane says:

    Well Steve all those government employees have to do something to justify their existence. This goes for every level of government.
    Remember a year ago around fair time some DND people descended on Ostrander Point to cut wide trails through the vegetation. Treat Hull has the pictures. The war was over in the forties and if they are live bombs or whatever there I guess we would have found them before now.The DnD guys claimed it had nothing to do with Gilead project–sure it didn’t.
    There was an elderly gentleman at the fair who said he and his friend used to go out and collect things and still has them as book ends.
    Now someone is going to say that I turn every blog into a turbine issue,well the government bureauacy just reminded me of that event.

  8. Ken Globe says:

    Steve, was there a pre-existing ditch in the last story? And where is the water draining to?

  9. Jason Pettit says:

    Canada’s new official language….Legalese.

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