In Montgomery County’s (Mo Co) (MD) 2010 Election, I wrote in my friends for these positions:
- Sheriff: Tony Escobar
- County Councilmember At Large: Bill Gallagher
- Board of Education: Gary Coulter
I trust few others and not Councilmembers Phil Andrews or Nancy Floreen to protect our liberty, which the Founders understood in part as freedom and relaxation of re[s]traint (with “freedom” being exemption from [s]ervitude; independence).[i]
Unfortunately Mo Co government, one of America’s biggest local governments,[ii] opposes liberty. If you’re in Rockville, the county’s seat, officials force you to live near metro stations or in the Town Center (there’s “a need for the Town Center to serve as the heart of the community”), fund art for public areas (“A community is judged by its appearance”), and subsidize bike riding by others.[iii] Want to buy land in Mo Co? Good luck: As of 2010, Mo Co government owns or has preserved 41% of county land. If you’re a home owner, would you like a new shed or fence? Get a permit. Want to sell hotdogs as a sidewalk vendor? Get a license, and remember you can’t sell within 20 feet of sidewalk cafes and your signs’ font size can’t exceed two inches. Please remember: Whatever you do in Mo Co, don’t open lemonade stands for charity!
To get a wee-taste of liberty, especially on a grander scale than the liberty violations I note above, I wish Mo Co officials would read Dr. Milton Friedman’s classic Capitalism and Freedom (1962). To have “Government in a Free Society,” Milton called for abolishment of such government activities and laws as follows (Rated R for Mo Co officials):
- Parity price support programs for agriculture
- Tariffs on imports or restrictions on exports, such as oil imports quotas, sugar quotas, etc.
- Control of output, such as through the farm program or portioning of oil
- Rent control, such as is still practiced in New York, or more general price and wage controls as imposed during and just after World War II
- Minimum wage rates or legal maximum prices
- Detailed regulation of industries, such as the regulation of transportation
- Control of radio and television [and the Internet] by the Federal Communications Commission (implicit censorship and violation of free speech)
- Social Security programs
- Licensure provisions that restrict particular enterprises, occupations, or professions to people who have a license
- So-called “public housing”
- Conscription to military service in peacetime
- Establishment and maintenance of parks
- Prohibition of mail carrying for profit
- Ownership and operation of roads
- This list is far from comprehensive
Many folks suggest that abolishment of such laws as minimum wages, rent control, and Social Security (SS)[iv] will hurt lower-income folks, but I assert the following realities, which make lower-income folks worse off:
- In general, employers hire fewer workers with minimum wages than employers would otherwise (good luck getting a job) (As an employer, why pay more money per laborer than his/her labor is worth?)
- Among other bad effects, lucky folks already living in rent-controlled apartments stay in their apartments (good luck finding a place)
- SS doesn’t give taxpayers good returns on their money: As with other taxes, taxpayers’ SS taxes (for most folks, 6.2% of wages in 2011) could instead fund an array of retirement funds, goods, services, or charitable causes that taxpayers choose (good luck optimizing your investments, purchases, and donations)
Oh, Mo Co government! How could thou support liberty? Shrink, Leviathan! There’re numerous starting points, but how about legalizing lemonade stands, privatizing your 41% of county land, and abolishing the Department of Permitting Services? To continue thou shrink for liberty, shed the following departments:
- Economic Development
- Housing Opportunities Commission[v]
- Housing and Community Affairs
I’ll leave it there for now: Leviathan, you’ve enough shrinking pills to digest. You want to grow—I hear your roar. But “Easy, big fella!” I’ll help you by voting for more Escobars, Gallaghers, and Coulters!
[ii] For instance, despite how most local governments in the United States impose no income tax, only three local governments, including New York City; Reading, PA; and Scranton, PA, have higher income taxes than Mo Co’s 3.2% income tax.
[iv] The idea is to “phase out” SS but still support those who’ve “paid in.”
[v] If Mo Co officials want to help folks find housing, freeing up 41% of the county’s land for more housing development would help.