The city government here in Las Vegas is notorious for their "special use permits" that tack on thousands of dollars in fees to small business owners or those looking to bring jobs and business to Las Vegas. The local paper just ran a story of how a thrift store that "employed veterans and a place for donation and food items" was just shut down due to the failure to pay an additional $1,000 to pay for a special permit to...wait for it...sell used goods.
Anyways something about this particular story, maybe it was the absurdity of a special permit to be allowed to sell used goods, or maybe it was the tragedy of the government once again abandoning veterans - this time tossing them out of a job, but whatever it was, I felt compelled to write a letter to the editor immediately after reading. Here is that letter:
I read the article in today's View about the closure of the Fort Haven Thrift Store, and felt compelled to write. I am tremendously upset at what is being done here. The government is not supposed to be the mafia, whom shuts down honest, charitable, people whom go into business to provide opportunity and jobs for those struggling, simply because the store owner failed to pay up whatever arbitrary sum of money they are demanding from you in order to be allowed to operate. I couldn't help but notice that Mr. Huff had already paid the fee for a business license, but failed to pay an additional $1,000 "special fee" for a permit to sell used goods. Why is there an additional fee required to obtain a special permit to sell used goods?
I assisted in helping a friend of mine open a new martial arts business here in Las Vegas recently and was floored by the amount of fees and licenses required. Naturally in addition to all the standard fees, we also had to pay a "special fee" for a "special" permit to practice martial arts. There was no safety check, no verification of our competency or anything of that degree. Just more demands to pay more money to a government that habitually squanders revenue and produces sub-par products for ever escalating costs. The answer to why these extra fees exist is simple. Because they can. It is why this fee is set at $1,000 and not $10, the government functions to extract wealth from the people it allegedly serves, protects, and "creates jobs" for. Despite hiding beneath generations of rhetoric of how government only exists to help the public and act in the best interest of those it rules over, the actual result is quite clear. Government destroys and consumes the wealth that free people create. This is a perfect microcosm of this much larger issue.
There are so many tragedies in this one relatively small story. Mr. Huff is running a low-end thrift store and employing veterans. The $1,000 additional fee is preposterous on its face, and has no defensible rationale for existing other than the government can and thus will take money from the people it is supposed to be serving, at any opportunity they see fit. For $1,000 the city is shutting down a business that provides jobs and a much needed store that caters to those less fortunate. What is truly in the best interest of the city of Las Vegas here? An extra $1,000 to the city government, or the jobs and services this thrift store provides to those in need?
Yet, this comes as virtually no surprise to anyone. We expect this from government. The government does not act in the city of Las Vegas' interest, the city government acts in the best interest of city government. So why do we consent to such a system?
There was a time when people understood that the government was supposed to serve and protect them, not act as an gang of thieves writ large that will imprison you or shut you down if you fail to pay them their tribute. This is one small example of a much greater problem. People left to their own devices can do amazing things. If we wish for an expedited return to prosperity, perhaps it is time we gave serious thought to removing the roadblock to liberty and prosperity that government is, and allow people the freedom to discover the best ways to serve one another.
Update: Letter Published!