John Whitehead says it well:
“Overregulation is just the other side of the coin to overcriminalization, that phenomenon in which everything is rendered illegal and everyone becomes a lawbreaker.
This is the mindset that tried to penalize a fisherman with 20 years’ jail time for throwing fish that were too small back into the water and subjected a 90-year-old man to arrest for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding the homeless in public.
It’s no coincidence that both of these incidents—the fishing debacle and the homeless feeding arrest—happened in Florida.
Despite its pristine beaches and balmy temperatures, Florida is no less immune to the problems plaguing the rest of the nation in terms of overcriminalization, incarceration rates, bureaucracy, corruption, and police misconduct.
In fact, the Sunshine State has become a poster child for how a seemingly idyllic place can be transformed into a police state with very little effort. As such, it is representative of what is happening in every state across the nation, where a steady diet of bread and circuses has given rise to an oblivious, inactive citizenry content to be ruled over by an inflexible and highly bureaucratic regime.
Just a few years back, in fact, Florida officials authorized police raids on barber shops in minority communities, resulting in barbers being handcuffed in front of customers, and their shops searched without warrants. All of this was purportedly done in an effort to make sure that the barbers’ licensing paperwork was up to snuff.
As if criminalizing fishing, charity, parenting decisions, and haircuts wasn’t bad enough, you could also find yourself passing time in a Florida slammer for such inane activities as singing in a public place while wearing a swimsuit, breaking more than three dishes per day, farting in a public place after 6 pm on a Thursday, and skateboarding without a license.
This transformation of the United States from being a beacon of freedom to a locked down nation illustrates perfectly what songwriter Joni Mitchell was referring to when she wailed, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Only in our case, sold on the idea that safety, security and material comforts are preferable to freedom, we’ve allowed the government to pave over the Constitution in order to erect a concentration camp.”
Just running a little plant nursery put me at all kinds of weird risks, including managing a labyrinthine set of interstate shipping laws, possible lawsuits from visitors to the food forest and potentially being raided for growing various edible plants (a fellow nursery owner told me multiple nurseries in Florida had been raided for growing unapproved yams. Yams!). I was even told by a government inspector that I could go to jail for keeping citrus in pots without a special license. Eventually I decided to walk away and I haven’t regretted it. When you’re an employee, sometimes you might miss the regulatory burden – but when you try to run your own business, you realize just how huge governmental overreach has become.
I love my home state but it’s just too much pressure. It’s not perfect anywhere, but the yoke is often lighter.
Plus, the beaches here are awesome.