Bad Laws 101: When “Saving the Planet” Backfires


This article is part of a series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.

Most of Helen Krieble’s Liberty Minutes involve stories where she has heard of government interference affecting other people. However, in a recent installment, “GESC Fencing,” the government overreach hits a little closer to home:

My home county has a thick notebook called the General Erosion and Sediment Control plan which supposedly dictates how all new construction should handle water runoff. But not all new construction causes erosion. We were actually required by these rules to cut the roots of an entire row of trees and place plastic erosion fencing in the ground.

First, there was no erosion there at all. And second, had there been, trees are nature’s most perfect way to control it. Instead of relying on thick notebooks of regulations, we ought to look through the lens of liberty and remember that every situation is different. Instead of applying punitive and costly government rules, we need to apply common sense.

While no one disputes that certain rules and regulations exist for a reason, it seems that government often imposes these blanket regulations without considering how they will affect individuals in different situations. While erosion could be a problem for some parts of a community, forcing the entire community to follow erosion standards is an unfair and absurd notion.

All too often, these laws that are designed to benefit citizens end up needlessly complicating their lives. In this case, it actually caused harm to trees on Krieble’s property, which further illustrates the outrageous nature of the regulation.

These unbelievable stories about the sheer lack of common sense in government would be comical if they weren’t so troubling. Before burdening citizens and small business with more unnecessary — and all-too-often oppressive — regulations, governments should look through the Lens of Liberty and understand that not every small problem needs to be met with a blanket government solution.

Terry Schilling

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.

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