In the dystopian world of Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film “Brazil”, the main character, played by Jonathan Price, suffers in a government-controlled apartment the heat of which is turning the tiny box into a sauna. He’s forbidden from fixing it, and he can’t get any response from the government. Things look grim until, swooping in like a ninja-spy, Harry Tuttle, the black-market repairman, takes care of it, lickety-split!
One wonders whether politicians in the California capitol of Sacramento are fans of Gilliam’s absurd world, because a recent news story reveals they’re on the same path.
The Free Thought Project’s Matt Agorist lays it out:
In the land of the free, every day, local governments and municipalities trample the rights of citizens to do with their own property what they wish. Over the years we’ve seen people face jail time for the length of their grass, arrested for windmills, and even ticketed for growing food. Now, we’ve discovered a law in Sacramento, California that makes it illegal to repair a vehicle in your own garage.
It’s because of the Sacramento zoning code, and it confirms what many promoters of freedom have said about zoning laws: they are examples of “Little Leviathan”, of town or city governments telling people how to live and, often, playing favorites with certain kinds of specially favored businesses to push demand their way.
Agorist explains that, on the surface, the Sacramento Commissars appear to “allow” “minor vehicle repair”. They graciously, magnanimously, kindly, allow serfs to handle their own work on “brake part replacement, minor tune-ups, oil changes and oil filter changes, repair of flat tires, lubrication, and ‘other similar operations.’”
But when one thinks about it, the fact that anyone in the government has issued diktats about what supposedly free people can and cannot do to their own property, on their own property, is an important stopping point. On principle, the details of what they “allow” are irrelevant. It is not their place to decide what peaceful activities are “allowable” on someone else’s land. That’s threatening behavior, and is an absolute breach of peaceful human ethics.
It doesn’t matter whether the gang ordering people around has been voted into “office” by a certain percentage of people, or the folks pushing people around are gangsters wearing mob movie threads. It’s wrong.
Even on the “practical” level, the details of Sacramento rule show us how duplicitous these bureaucrats appear to be.
Agorist quotes the code enforcement “rule”:
Is Minor Vehicle Repair Permitted at Residences?
Yes. However, it is unlawful for any person to engage in, or permit others to engage in, minor vehicle repair or maintenance in any agricultural, agricultural-residential, residential, interim estate and interim residential zones under any of the following circumstances:
1. Using tools not normally found in a residence;
2. Conducted on vehicles registered to persons, not currently residing on the lot or parcel;
3. Conducted outside a fully enclosed garage and resulting in any vehicle being inoperable for a period in excess of twenty-four hours.
What is a “tool normally found in a residence”? What kind of “residence”? People in apartments usually don’t own the same kinds of tools as people living in single-family homes, so they must be out of luck.
And, given that a citizen of the great Soviet of Sacramento can’t “lawfully’ work on vehicles not registered to folks on “that lot or parcel”, this means friends can’t help friends work on their vehicles, and individual owners can’t work on vehicles that are unregistered.
And if you don’t have a closeable garage? Sorry. No home-based repairs for you!
Agorist observes that the Sacramento Commissars (that sounds like a bad baseball team – they win by passing rules hampering their rivals) have offered lame excuses about these mandates and threats, saying that, well, see, if you do major repairs in your own residential garage, chemicals could leach into the water supply. But Agorist and others have noted that simple lawn and garden care leaches all kinds of stuff into the ground, as do the roads themselves, where more oil and gas and other pollutants mix with runoff than anywhere else in the city.
And if the Commissars are so angry about having to handle the public water supply that they prohibit certain kinds of self-reliant, money-saving, behavior, perhaps it’s time to look at the paradigm of the public water supply and notice that it, too, is an unethical imposition, demanding tax money from all and not allowing for real private property ownership. If real property principles were allowed to function in Sacramento, and people got their own water, any people working on their vehicles who polluted the water of others would be liable. In fact, an entire insurance paradigm would arise to incentivize people who want to fix cars, inspiring them voluntarily to take protective measures to insure they don’t harm the water of others.
But, of course, given the collectivist mindset of so many Americans, the notion of self-control, property rights, strict liability, and freedom are about as bizarre to them as Gilliam’s world of “Brazil” was to us.
The trouble is, when the film hit screens, it was fiction.
Now, it’s not.