17 November 2010

Valuable Lessons

The Agitator | Radley Balko | City Councilman Calls Cops on Kids Selling Cupcakes

What a dick.
A politician in a New York suburb called police on two 13-year-old boys for selling cupcakes and other baked goods without a permit, according to a report Monday. [...]
I think I’ve changed my mind about these stories. If the point of having your kid start a lemonade stand, cupcake stand, or some other little venture is for him to learn what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, he might as well learn early on that part of being an entrepreneur is dealing with asshole politicians, petty bureaucrats, and rivals willing to use the law to shut you down rather than compete with you. It also means understanding that the costs of complying with all the bullshit hurdles the government puts in the way of starting up a business may mean you can never get your business off the ground, no matter how good your idea.
In high school I got tangled up in some petty bureaucratic bullshit treatment from my school administration.  There was plenty of the usual foolishness: ex post rule-making, power grabs, CYA, determining policy by deferring to who ever bitched the loudest in public.  This situation became a bit of a thing in my community.

A well meaning neighbor said that he felt sorry for what had happened to me, but that he hoped it wouldn't make me cynical.*  I said something along the lines of "thanks, but I think it's too late for that," but what I still regret not having said is "if this hasn't made you cynical then you haven't been paying attention."*

I'm just one more data point in support of Balko's theory that "libertarianism happens to people," one bullshit interaction with the state at a time.  That event is when I realized that it's not just "bad apples" and "isolated incidents" -- the state is an amoral entity that serves itself first and foremost.

* I mean, by the way, cynical in the first sense, "skeptical of the [stated] motives of others."

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