Is American life now best described by the plot of a Nathanael West novel?
Maybe. In West’s A Cool Million, the young hero meets calamity after calamity, often at the hands of America’s authorities. I stopped after a prison official had all the hero’s teeth ripped out to “prevent infection.”
Most American punitive “overkill” is not as gruesomely funny. If you ask John Dollarhite, it’s not funny at all.
Dollarhite, who runs a computer store in Nixa, Missouri, inherited his son’s rabbit-breeding business, which Dollarhite describes as being on the order of a lemonade stand. When his son reached 18, Dollarhite took over Dollarvalue Rabbitry, and sold over 600 little furry creatures in the space of a year and a half.
He closed the business after the USDA got involved.
You see, the USDA licenses the selling of animals in this country. And neither Dollarhite nor his son were licensed to breed and sell rodents. Dollarhite says he wasn’t aware of such a requirement.
So, of course, the USDA came down. Hard. Like a starved puma on a vole.
The USDA demands he pay over $90,000 in penalties. Dollarhite says the government might as well demand a cool million — or, as he put it, a “$1000 or $100 million. I don’t have it.”
The blogosphere is up in arms about this, and rightly so.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking this isn’t American justice. More like that Nathanael West novel I never finished.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.