Sunday, August 15, 2004

Still the Thing Itself

It has happened, again. Bureaucrats shut down a lemonade stand. How can they do that? Wrong question: Fact is, the youngsters are breaking the law. The answer is not to give the bureaucrats discretion to ignore stupid laws.. The answer is to get rid of stupid laws, to reduce the bureaucrats’ actual authority in the first place. Life-arrangers shouldn’t be granted authority over small businesses. The power to regulate is the power to destroy.

A loyal reader recently suggested that Walter Peck, EPA movie fall guy, should be the poster boy for this post (sorry). And that’s right. Remember Walter Peck (played well by William Atherton) in GHOSTBUSTERS? There were two memorable exchanges.

1. Peck comes in, with police, and a court order. The court order is cease and desist, for operating an unlicensed facility. He looks around, gloating: “Shut this down, shut it ALL down.” The containment field is shut down, the spook trap explodes, and ghoulies are released into the city.

2. The exchange in the Mayor’s office:

Egon: "We were doing fine until Dickless here shut off the power!"
Peck: "Mr. Mayor, these men are con artists!"
Mayor: "Is this true?"
Venkman: "Yes, it's true. This man has no dick."

That’s what it comes down to. We blame government for hiring jerks like Walter Peck at the EPA. But all he was trying to do was enforce the law. He really did have the best interests of New York, and the U.S., in mind, because he was trying to do his job, having sworn to uphold the law. Why do we all laugh at a hapless bureaucrat trying to enforce stupid, repressive laws, but never connect our scorn to the laws themselves, or the government that needs such repressive machinery to survive. I don’t get it. Congress is the one doing the damage, demogogue-ing and passing new, repressive laws with vague provisions that people like Walter Peck are trying to enforce. We are the dickless ones for putting up with it.

At the end of GHOSTBUSTERS, Walter Peck gets hit by the goo(re) of the Stay-puft man’s explosion. What they actually used was shaving cream, fifty gallons of it. The poor actor had a hard time getting out of the slick, choking foam. And, that’s the last we see of this evil force. Ha ha, bad guy got his. But all the laws are still the same. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.