I was outraged when I came across a story today from the Charlotte Observer. Albemarle Road church fined $100 per branch for excessive tree pruning
The question that rises in me is, "How did we get here?" How did we get to a place in the "Land of the Free" where private entities, in this case a church, can be fined because the local government decides that it doesn't like how the trees are trimmed? The only answer I can come up with is this - because we stopped paying attention. We let our guards down. We've forgotten about the brave men who died declaring our freedom so long ago. This type of tyranny is exactly why the Revolutionary War was fought. Then it was against the British Monarchy, now it is against an ever-increasing police state waging war against the citizenry even on a local level. Yes, I said tyranny. That's what it is, plain and simple.
Dictionary.com provides this definition of tyranny - 1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
Here are the points of the story that stick out to me as the most outrageous.
1. Charlotte has had a tree ordinance since 1978.
At some point in 1978, the City of Charlotte passed a tree ordinance. I don't suppose there was much of anything important happening there in 1978. No murders. No home invasions. No burglary. It must have been the perfect environment to live back in '78. I pose these questions - Why was this ordinance so badly needed? Who proposed the idea? Why was it not enforced so aggressively now and not then. I assume it wasn't enforced in the past as the story quotes a representative of the church saying, "I just couldn't believe it when I heard about it," Sales said. "We trim our trees back every three years all over our property, and this is the first time we have been fined." According to the church's website, it has been in its current location since 1976, 2 years before the ordinance was passed. It took 35 years for this to become an issue?
2. "The fine will be dropped if the church replaces each of the improperly pruned trees," said Tom Johnson, senior urban forester for city of Charlotte Land Development Division.
I'm now suddenly interested in the financial condition of the City of Charlotte. In times where municipalities are going broke left and right, it's interesting that Charlotte can afford a "Senior Urban Forester." An urban forester? No, that's not an oxymoron, just a plain ol' moron. That point is proven by his quote that follows.
"When they are nonrepairable, when they have been pruned beyond repair, we will ask them to be replaced," Johnson said. "We do that for a number of reasons but mainly because they are going to come back unhealthy and create a dangerous situation down the road." A DANGEROUS SITUATION? Maybe they're afraid that disgruntled trees will pull themselves up by the roots and wage a protest during a Sunday morning service. A tree's self image is important. We wouldn't want the trees to feel intimidated by other, larger trees. What a joke. Beyond repair? According to the church member, "We trim our trees back every three years." Hmmm, now they are "unrepairable."
3. The City of Trees
"The purpose of the tree ordinance is to protect trees," Johnson said. "Charlotte has always been known as the city of trees. When we take down trees, we need to replace these trees."
A quick google search led me to a wikipedia page that shows there are at least 21 "Cities of Trees," Charlotte, NC included. Doesn't seem to be such an exclusive title. I find it interesting that Brooklyn, NY, Washington D.C., and Detroit, MI are former "Cities of Trees." Now I think I see the connection! Brooklyn, D.C., and Detroit are much too consumed with murder and drugs to be worried about trees. How's that crime rate Charlotte?
4. The Permits
Individuals who would like to trim their trees should call the city foresters to receive a free permit to conduct the landscape work.
Foresters will then meet with the person receiving the permit and give instructions on how to properly trim their trees, Johnson said.
The state Division of Forestry recommends that anyone trimming trees should be certified by the National Horticulture Board, but certification is not required to receive a permit.
Foresters - In one of the largest cities in the country. I've been through Charlotte at least 100 times. "Forest" isn't necessarily a word I would use to describe it.
John Stossel, formerly of ABC's 20/20 and host of the FOX Business Network show "Stossel," did a great piece one night about local governments putting florists out of business due to "improper licensing." He showed that simply having a license does not make one person more or less capable of performing any task than another who does not hold said license. It simply puts undue and immoral power in the hands of corruptible politicians. The license does nothing to protect consumers. As a 14 year holder of a Commercial Driver's License, I can attest to the indisputable FACT that having a driver's license does not mean you know how to drive. People that I am forced to share the highways with prove it to me daily.
What does all this mean to me? What's my takeaway? I want to live on at least 50 acres, out of an incorporated community, away from the corrupt and ridiculous reach of the tyrants. I want to live in a place where the Hatfields and McCoys (Democrats and Republicans) can't get to me. Oh, I know they can get to me, but I want to put as much distance as possible and make it hard for them. I just want freedom - freedom from government. I want to live free to make my own choices. Food freedom. Gun freedom. School freedom. It's funny that these have all become cliches in recent years. I don't want their kind of freedom - one where my dear leaders in a far-off land make all my decisions for me and protect me from myself. They've done a masterful job over the decades dividing us into our little groups and getting us to take our eyes off of them. They pit rich against poor, black against white, gay versus Christian, Democrat versus Republican, Conservative versus Liberal, and on and on and on. All the while, they stand there with their caring arms open wide to pat our backside and make us realize who really cares about our needs. I'm done with all of that. No longer will I be pigeon-holed into accepting another's cause. I've got my own cause, and I'll fight it to the death. I don't care what you do, as long as you leave me out of it.