Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fatiguing them into compliance

We spent the Fourth of July at my aunt's house in Lincoln. They have an Independence Day parade in their neighborhood, followed by a variety show. Meagan gave a wonderful performance, of a made-up song I might add, on her harmonica. Caleb read the Declaration of Independence.

Every time I read that document, I have to marvel. The Founding Fathers were listing all the grievances they had against King George and we seem to have let ourselves become entangled again by government. In the words of the hero in the movie, The Patriot, we've just traded one tyrant, three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants, one mile away.

I particularly see modern government in this quote:

"[King George] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance."

Go ahead...Ask a farmer who is trying to sell the meat he raises himself to his neighbors and is told that in order to butcher that animal for sale legally, he must not only have an inspector come, but provide a parking lot and separate bathroom! Ask a homeschooler who just wants to teach her kids and is told she must prove herself worthy to the schools by testing her kids with the very tests that were originally designed to prove to the parents that the schools were up to par. Ask a midwife who takes her livelihood and her very freedom in her hands every time she assists a low risk mother in birthing her child in the comfort of her own home.

But today, I was reminded of another passage in the Declaration:

"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures."

Today, I had to go appear before the equalization board in what (I hope) is the final step in the process of protesting our property valuation increase. The assessed value of our buildings jumped a whopping 25% and while I do like the garage, especially in its' unfinished state, it hardly amounts to that. And let's not even discuss the housing market and plummeting housing values. So, we decided to protest.

To protest, you must acquire a form at the county courthouse, which is open M-F, 9-5. Then, you must return to hand in your protest. M-F, 9-5. No, you cannot download the form. And no, you cannot mail it in. And while I suppose you could find a seat to fill it out then and there, thereby reducing your trips to one, it requires at least one in-person, business-hour, trip. Fine, I can do that.

Then, we get a postcard saying that we must now show up yet again, on a Tuesday morning at 9:30am to appear before the equalization board. Yes, we can reschedule, but as long as it is M-F, 9-5. That is trip #3. I will concede that it says that you may phone in at your appointed time. However, if an in-person meeting is expected, then one may assume that you may not get quite the sympathy when you just make a phone call. Regardless, if you work, you may very well be out of luck. Don can call from Offutt, provided he doesn't have a meeting at that time, but certainly cannot make a phone call from the prison.

Yes, I am at home and can make these 3 trips to the county courthouse. In fact, each time we made a trip out of it and hit the library, park, and grocery store as well. But, that is hardly the point. And, yes, I realize that the Founding Fathers were accusing the king of making things much more difficult than 3 30-minute round-trip drives in a minivan. But we live in a time where putting a form to download on their website is easy. Where allowing for a fax or mailed-in form is an obvious accommodation. And where, in many households, both parents are working and while 1 in-person appearance is something that can be worked into a schedule, 3 trips becomes an unnecessary hardship.

So why is this the county's protest system? One can't help be wonder if it isn't to weed out those who find it to hard to comply. In other words, could they be trying to fatigue us into compliance? Hmmm...

Anyway, it remains to be seen if our garage will, in the end, be seen as a 25% increase to our building value. I've done my part. At least I hope I'm done. If I have to make another trip to town, I may have to reduce my tax payment by the amount of gas used. If only.


Lona said...

Preach it, sistah!

Barb J. said...

Hear, hear! Our founding fathers has such great dreams for our nation, it's sad we are ending up back in the same place. Here's another instance for you: In our state it is illegal to sell raw milk. Now I have never tasted raw milk and don't even know if I want it for my family, but I don't think the government should be allowed to tell me I can't drink a certain kind of milk!

Shaye Miller said...

A Nebraska panhandle mom here--I enjoyed this post. My husband and I have been watching the mini-series John Adams by renting the disks from the local video store each week. It's so amazing that we're coming full circle. Hard to believe it's taken less than 300 years, too! :sigh: At least many of us are taking notice and fighting back for rights and freedoms.