Foolish Government

September 18, 2018

by John McClaughry

Here’s a small news item from the Roseburg (Oregon) Beacon which illustrates how dimwitted government can cause enormous damage.

A man driving near Redding, California hauling a bulldozer on his lowboy saw a roadside fire accidentally started by a motorist driving on a flat tire, with the rim throwing off sparks. He stopped, unloaded the dozer, and proceeded to dig a perimeter to contain the fire.

But alas, it was national forest, and a Federal forest ranger appeared and demanded that he stop. The operator insisted he could contain and extinguish the fire in no time. The ranger said if he did that he would be arrested and his equipment impounded by the US government.

So he stopped. The fire spread from the national forest, destroyed more than a thousand homes, and burned over 400 square miles. Hey, the ranger was just doing his job, just the way the rule book dictated.  Maybe he’ll get promoted.

This is just another example of people protecting their government jobs by insisting on rules that if followed, would result in catastrophic consequences.

Now, back to Vermont. In 2011 when Tropical Storm Irene hit the western part of the state, Governor Peter Shumlin said, in effect, “never mind all the rules, procedures, and permits. Get the roads open and the power back on, and protect the lives and property of people of Vermont.” I thought that was Peter Shumlin’s finest hour.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

r September 21, 2018 at 9:59 pm

The only one, but he was breaking the law himself.


William Hays September 22, 2018 at 6:12 pm

I don’t think Peter Shumlin was EVER mindful of our laws.


Deanne September 22, 2018 at 2:59 am

That is absolutely insane. We need more government employees that can’t see a situation and think for themselves.


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