The weekend weather was beautiful, the crowds were abundant, and consequently the neon-green garage-sale signs were plastered everywhere with arrows pointing both left and right.
Best of all? My wife only had $10.
If only that were true of government.
If one law is good, more laws overlaying that law make the original law better, no?
If one sign serves to slow speeders, then more signs means more speeders will slow down more often, true?
And in the case of the Lakewood, WA Rental Inspection Program, if a program initially is estimated to cost X but turns out to cost 3X – and that’s just for starters – then, well, that’s just the cost of doing business, right?
The correct answer to all three questions posed above – and none of the three are hypothetical – is yes, if you’re the government; no, if you’re the consumer.
“The downsides of draconian laws,” writes Rob McKenna in Smarter Government Washington, “grow ever more absurd with time.”
Take the example, cites McKenna, of “America’s Finest” – which may well become America’s Folly – “a state-of-the art $75 million vessel” planned to trawl the waters off Alaska.
“If more than 1.5% of the ship by weight is ‘touched’ by a foreign worker, it can’t be U.S.- flagged and can’t fish in American waters,” protests the law firm representing Dakota Creek Industries, the Anacortes shipbuilder, which is disputing the criteria of a law set nearly 100 years ago.
Disputing the law – actually many repetitions, and variations, of the same law all plastered in multiple fonts on a single pole – was what Jason Canfield did recently in King County Superior Court. Canfield argued there were too many signs of somewhat conflicting messages in the 20-mph school zone where the camera clocked him at 28 – and issued him a $234 speeding ticket.
The judge agreed with Canfield and dismissed the fine indicating in doing so that the City of Seattle had over-complexified the example and regulation that already existed at both the state and federal level.
Government is not unlike that pictured here along the road in Rosburg, Oregon as recently photographed and captioned by the author’s sister Alice Nelson: “When you can’t part with architectural doodads.”
“Protectionist laws,” ostensibly to serve the purpose of ‘safety’ as sometimes Lakewood City officials purport the Rental Inspection Program to do (although ‘safety’ is not mentioned in this latest development of the program in city notes), “often seem like a good idea,” writes McKenna, but “with time they twist rationality . . . into pretzels.”
The Rental Inspection Program in Lakewood, WA is what McKenna called – in the case of the ship building quandary – “a protectionist law (where) questionable and arbitrary go with the territory.”
On page 75 (of 185) of this past June 19 Lakewood City Council Study Session, the development of the software – just the software – to support – just to support – “the rental-housing program” was originally estimated, and therefore budgeted, at $50,000.
It is now nearly three times that.
For the software.
Just the software.
Just the software just to support the program.
Just the software just to support the program to inspect rental housing in the city.
And that’s just phase one.
Because “additional requests were made such as business licensing, historical tracking and others, costs have grown” is the official city explanation.
But of course.
“Other” reasons, explanations, ‘didn’t-think-about-that-before’ fun ideas – doodads – were added.
At additional cost.
Times three in fact.
Even though – as with the case of the complexified signs in the school zone where already existing law makes clear the regulatory standard – there is the Landlord Tenant Law that makes clear the already existing legal, and already abundant, regulatory standards for resolving disputes among concerned parties as pertains rentals.
No century-old law that makes absurd current reality.
No need for more signs.
No more government intrusion and cost overruns.
No “computer programs, libraries and related non-executable data such as online documentation or digital media that computer software includes.”
No adding of architectural – or inspection-of-rental – doodads.
Just common sense.
Any more, so uncommon.