Some of the most vicious threats to individual rights and liberty occur not on the federal but on the local level. Clint Bolick, an attorney who has combated many local governmental assaults on citizens around the country, once wrote a book to make the point entitled Leviathan: The Growth of Local Government and the Erosion of Liberty.
Example? Consider the zany local edict issued in the little town of Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The Institute for Justice — Bolick’s old stomping ground — informs us that the city council there has begun “enforcing a law that makes it illegal for farmers to sell products from their own land unless they were grown within Lake Elmo.”
Two of the farmers being threatened with fines and 90 days in jail are Richard and Eileen Bergman, who have tilled the land in Lake Elmo for almost four decades. They grow pumpkins. But part of their farm extends beyond the city limits, and most of their pumpkins grow on that out-of-Elmo part.
The Institute for Justice has filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the town’s ban on out of-of-town pumpkins. Council members who support the ban must have some ludicrous theory about how such totalitarian edicts goose the local economy. But the ban is certainly no good for folks stopped from buying and selling what they want to buy and sell.
And how, pray tell, do you promote local farming by throwing local farmers in jail?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.