January 25, 2016

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

emergency situation effectsSo in the midst of global-warming we have this winter blizzard of biblical proportions that hit the east coast of the United States. No point trying to makes sense of political platitudes in the face of reality, but it is interesting to see the actions of the state in the face of natural disaster.

People who live in regions where snow storms are a regular thing every winter tend to know how to handle getting through them. People who were brought up in it have that wisdom passed down from previous generations, while people who are relatively new to it ask their neighbors what they do or look up what to do on the internet.

The vast number of people are not inclined to go out in bad weather. It’s an inconvenience and it’s dangerous. This resonates with most people: safety and convenience. But let’s assume there is a minority of people who do not share this basic tenet. They like driving in blizzards. Let’s say they get stuck somewhere, or get into an accident and are injured, and no one can get to them. Wouldn’t that be punishment enough? The natural consequences pretty much sorted that out. No need for additional consequences.

Oddly, that’s not sufficient for New York’s finest. They feel the need to insert themselves as some necessary force for safety. So in addition to what could likely happen out there, the NYPD instituted a travel ban. Anyone caught on the roads after 2:30 PM on Saturday, January 23rd would be arrested. Arrested, as in: criminal charges will be leveled on them for driving on a public road.

Based on the images and stories I’ve seen, it’s not full blown Martial Law. People can go outside and play in the snow and walk around. But they may not travel on the roads in their cars.

If it’s not already self-evident, people who engage in risky behavior would be held responsible for any damages they incurred while doing so. If they ran into a telephone pole, they would incur the cost of damages to themselves and the pole. There are already laws in place for this.

Despite the laws that already exist for reckless driving and property damage, the state still feels the need to control the circumstances and conditions under which we travel. So if you drive while tired and run into a pole, you get one set of consequences. If you drive in the snow and into a pole, you get a different set. If you drive while drunk and into a pole, you get yet another different set of penalties. The thing is, the outcome is exactly the same. Driving under dangerous conditions can lead to disastrous outcomes, but why treat them differently?

What is particularly unnerving is that what used to be just seasonal weather conditions now has criminal implications. Declaring a state of emergency over a snow storm, and implementing curfews and travel restrictions is rather heavy handed if not superfluous. A 19 year old boy in Massachusetts who was suspected of setting off a pressure cooker bomb at the marathon was cause to have nearly 10,000 police officers – who just happen to be at the ready and nearby – descend on the city of Watertown, MA? A blizzard is reason to level criminal charges on someone for getting on the roads?

It’s not about whether it’s safe or not. It’s about the fact that if it already makes sense to abstain from reckless behavior, why do you need the threat of further punishment beyond those that naturally define these actions as risky and dangerous in the first place?

“Last year no one got arrested. People made the right decisions. We are looking for that again today,” @NYPDChiefofDept says re: travel ban

— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) January 23, 2016

Ya don’t say! Was it the threat of an arrest or just plain self-preservation that kept people inside? Why are local governments looking for reasons to get into our business and restrict our activities and movements?  Ironically, the NYPD claims they are out there keeping people safe, but based on what they are posting, private citizens are actually doing a fine job of that on their own by staying inside!  I can’t believe the NYPD is taking credit for the safe choices of people now.

Last year there was a tremendous brouhaha over a couple of high school boys in Blind Brook, New Jersey “illegally shoveling snow”.   Evidently, those boys needed a $450 license (that would only be valid for 180 days) to shovel snow for a couple bucks per driveway. I doubt the boys even made that much off their little venture.

This year, a bill was signed into law called “The Right to Shovel Act”:

The bill removes only licensing requirements for snow shoveling services, and only applies to solicitations made within 24 hours before a predicted snow storm. Towns with laws prohibiting door-to-door solicitation will be able to enforce those laws in all other circumstances.” (Source: Watchdog.org)

For a bill that regards shoveling snow to be a right, it’s awfully ridiculous to stipulate that it only applies to solicitations made within 24 hours of a predicted snow storm. Didn’t realize rights had time limits, but I guess they do in New Jersey.

A similar crackdown on summer time lemonade stands rolled out not that long ago and those ordinances are still in place for the most part. Police officers were literally shutting down lemonade stands operated by small children for not having permits and licenses of varying degrees.

This has to do with control. And they are merely testing the waters to see how much they can get away with. Will the police be lauded and thanked for their intrusions as they were in Watertown? Or will they be reprimanded and chastised in the public forums as they were over petty licensing laws?

The travel ban was lifted Sunday January 24th at 7:00 a.m. EST. Is it right for the government on any level to tell us when or if we can leave our homes? When or if we can travel? When or if we can engage in commerce? Interesting to note, although I’m not sure if there is necessarily a correlation, but only a few days ago, NYPD boasted of their various firearm confiscations.

nypd gun confiscation

Were all the victims of forfeiture “bad guys” with nefarious intentions? Probably not. But again, this is about control. Telling us how or if we are allowed to defend ourselves against cops or any other band of thugs is really outside the purview of government, yet we tolerate it. The mission creep of real. If we comply, then they feel vindicated in doing what they did. If we don’t, then they dig their heels in and their resolve to impose grows.

It’s important to watch these things. Sure, it might seem like common sense to stay in during a blizzard. You might also have an ailing relative who needs care that you have to get to, or have a sick child who needs to get medical attention. Should the government decide how much risk is okay for you under your circumstances? Pay attention to how they position themselves, insert themselves, validate themselves, and ultimately watch their actions and behavior. Are they trying to keep us in a constant state of fear to make them appear relevant and necessary? Put another way, if they are willing to throw down over traveling in the snow, then in what other little corner of your life are they making themselves at home?