It is good to know that the our ever-watchful benevolent overlords are letting no stone go unturned in their never ending quest to hunt down and punish hardened criminals.
In a state where true unemployment hovers near twenty percent, where incomes are plummeting, and from where residents are fleeing in search of more friendly environs in which to make a living, Oakland Township authorities are working overtime to stamp out the criminal activity of providing jobs in a manner clearly inconsistent with local ordinances!
From the Freep:
Both sides have been battling since Barkham, 59, of Dryden, a veterinarian who also owns Paint Creek Animal Clinic in Oakland Township, bought the cider mill property in 1981. A cider mill since 1947, it was closed for a number of years during the ownership transition. The township sued in 1983, saying the closure affected the cider mill's right to operate in the residential area.Oh, this makes a lot of sense.
A subsequent court order allowed the cider mill to reopen between Labor Day and Jan. 1. But strict guidelines limited operations, restricting sales to cider, popcorn and other mill-oriented goodies, and allowed a small petting farm.
The township went back to court in November, saying Barkham illegally added the sale of Christmas trees, firewood and tickets for a corn maze. On Jan. 20, Oakland County Circuit Judge Michael Warren found Barkham in criminal contempt. Warren could fine the mill up to $7,500 at a sentencing hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. today.
The business operated for many years in the exact same location, using the exact same processes, and selling the exact same products. It was not the business that changed, but rather the attitudes of bureaucrats and the authority they assumed by fiat over those that pay they salaries. In 1947 it was just fine to squeeze apples into cider at that location. By the early 80s? Not so much.
The area that contained the cider mill was zoned residential and new requirements were placed upon the lands. The authorities waited like ravenous wolves until such time when they could snuff out the business altogether or make it operate in a way that they thought was appropriate.
That time came when the original owner sold the property. As the property changed hands the authorities stepped in to announce that the business could no longer operate in a residential area.
The business owner balked, continued to operate, and the two sides have been fighting ever since--after all, nothing announces a donnybrook more loudly than a man seriously trying to make a living versus those in authority that make a living trying to be taken seriously.
The last straw might have been the introduction of firewood and Christmas trees to the products sold at the cider mill--authorities apparently fearing that a once dignified neighborhood would descend into a land of discarded couches and blighted graffiti once gnarled oak becomes sold by the half cord next to hands-holding old folks traipsing through a cornfield.
This small chapter is but symptomatic of a hugely serious problem that affects the state of Michigan. Entire industries are being driven out of business by overlord puppeteers who believe they know better than those whose strings they pull. These same bureaucrats are championing new and non-viable industries that stand no chance of existing without a forever commitment of huge subsidy by future generations.
As a state and as a people we stand near the point of no return. To be an American used to mean something. It used to mean that we could struggle or succeed on the basis of our own merits. Now it means we are more likely to struggle or succeed based on the merits appointed to our efforts by government.
A small cider mill is not going to make or break the Michigan economy. The few jobs that might stand in the balance aren't going to impact the state's unemployment rate by anything other than the smallest of percentage points. Consumers can even go farther out of town and get an equally beautiful seasonal secular holiday tree or a taste of tart cider.
The point is that when this business is added to the tens of thousands of others that have been negatively affected by lame brained regulation for the sake of regulation, we do end up with a situation that can be measured in intrinsic terms.
One can only hope that those living in squeaky clean residential neighborhoods today, absent the nitty gritty businesses of generations past, don't mind looking at the for sale signs picketing unmowed lawns up and down the street.
You know, good with the bad and all that.