GOP Should be Making it Easier for People to Earn a Living

The Republican Party has traditionally championed the free market and policies promoting prosperity and growth in the economy (thanks in large part to staunch fiscal conservatives within the party). But in looking at the recent debates among Republicans over farming, and specifically the “Boneta Bill,” it appears that some Republicans have lost focus when it comes to using their power in government to make it easier for people to earn a living.

To be clear, I don’t know much about farming. No one in my family has ever owned a farm, and I’ve never been a farmer. But like most people, I do know about struggling to pay bills and working to make a business successful. I’ve often thought about what kind of business I would start if I decided to go out and be my own boss one day. Having to worry if my government will even allow me to start a business is a sad reality in today’s America.

As I was reading through the initial zoning violation which sparked the “Pitchfork Protests” and Delegate Scott Lingamfelter’s legislation to amend the Right to Farm Act, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Why are there so many government restrictions for running a farm/business?”

OpportunityThe county’s complaint listed a number of supposedly violated ordinances which to me just seemed like unnecessary governmental interference in the marketplace.

The notice states that on July 14, 2011 the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors (BoS) approved a zoning ordinance creating the land use categories “farm sales establishment” and “farmers market,” both of which require different permits from the county. The notice also states that the BoS has previously enacted land use categories for “wayside stands,” “farmers markets,” and “community farmers markets,” each with categorical provisions defined by the county government, and each requiring government permission to engage in commerce on.

I didn’t have the pleasure of moving to Virginia until August of 2011, so I don’t know what the conversation was among BoS members about land use in July 2011. But again, I have to question why the government is intruding in private commerce in this way at all. And I have to question why so many Republicans are adamantly defending government regulation, permit requirements (taxes on business creation), and interference in the market.

One of the arguments made in the citation in defense of some of the zoning ordinances, and which the BoS probably used in discussing their passage, was that other counties are doing it too. This just had me shaking my head in disbelief. Just because every other county in Virginia makes it harder for people to earn a living, does that mean Fauquier has to as well?

In terms of Del. Lingamfelter’s proposed legislation, I’ve seen comments on the Internet complaining about how it would allow farmers to sell anything from mobile phones to store-bought ice-cream on their farms. I’m not sure that’s actually the case, but my reply is, “So what?”

The concern seems to be that farmers who engage in retail activities are getting special tax breaks and other incentives that normal retail businesses aren’t receiving on account of their owning and operating a farm. Also, there would be lots of retail activity taking place on land not zoned for such for a purpose. Instead of trying to achieve “fairness” through penalization, why not work to alleviate the tax burdens and restrictions on non-farming businesses? And why not reexamine our whole approach to zoning with an eye towards empowering individuals to start prosperous businesses instead of defending more and more government regulation? There’s a fine line between protecting private property rights and land use for business and other activities, but Republicans, at the local, state, and national level, should know that more and heavier government mandates aren’t the answer.

There’s also a fine line between protecting consumers and allowing business to prosper. But when the government is now telling potential business owners how big their parking lots need to be, what kind of light bulbs to use, how high each step has to be, that a whole series of paperwork must be filed, etc., it’s time to take a step a back and reexamine just how much the government has intruded into the market and hampered well-meaning people from making an honest living.

John Stossel made a great case against such intrusion several years ago in an ABC News 20/20 special. Stossel pointed out that all the required permits, fees, and paperwork needed to start a business in his home state of New York could take weeks or even months to process. Then there’s a whole host of regulations to deal with after that. He then traveled to Hong Kong, and even though he was an American citizen, filled out only one piece of paper and started a business the same day. Stossel also spoke with entrepreneurs from around the world who came to Hong Kong to start businesses and expressed how easy it was to prosper in the free market environment there. I haven’t attempted to start my own business in Fauquier County yet, but I doubt it’s that simple.

There are obviously nuanced details to this whole debate that deserve more attention than I can give them here, but my point is this: it is only the Republican Party that will act in the interests of promoting economic freedom in government (the Democrats aren’t interested), and we can’t allow elected Republicans to lose sight of that.

Real unemployment in America right now is over 14 percent. For young adults it’s even higher. We have more people on government assistance than at any time in American history. Republicans should be fighting to repeal existing laws impeding economic growth, and to empower people to build and expand businesses, create jobs, and prosper on their own. Rather than engaging in public name-calling and personal attacks, we need to refocus on our party’s core principles of individual liberty, limited government, and free market economics.

Adam Cassandra is the Chairman of the Fauquier County Young Republicans. Follow Adam on Twitter: @adamcassandra.



8 Responses to GOP Should be Making it Easier for People to Earn a Living

  1. Pingback: American Spectator Supports Boneta Bill - Fauquier Free Citizen

  2. Pingback: The American Spectator : The Spectacle Blog : Vote on Property Rights a Major Test for Virginia GOP

  3. Lee Smith Reply

    February 6, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    The future will be controlled by young people who can clearly see what if going on. You are definitely one of those individuals and I applaud you for your article. I am a lifelong conservative Ronald Reagan Republican. President Reagan would be embarrassed by the Republican controlled Fauquier Board of Supervisors. I am embarrassed by the Fauquier Board of Supervisors. It is my understanding that we only have 5 supervisors because our county government is rooted in the original Virginia Constitution and has not been updated in forever. Most Virginia counties have been updated to the post-civil war Virginia Constitution. I would love to see us break the 5 person 3 vote monopoly. It is just too easy for too powerfull local behind the scenes individuals and groups to control 3 votes and win on nearly everything.
    Again, thank you for sharing your very excellent article.
    Lee Smith
    Midland, Virginia

  4. Suzanne S. Gartner Reply

    February 5, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Thank you, for expressing so clearly the win-win power of freedom in the face of the din of pursuing the illusion of “fairness.”
    Sue Gartner, Arlington

  5. Pingback: Bobby Orrock Exposes Himself on Boneta and Food Freedom Bills

  6. Christopher Doss Reply

    February 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Excellent letter. Well stated. Instead of defending the status quo of regulations and red tape, the Republicans should be on the warpath against every intervention of government that weighs our economy down. The Fauquier YRs give me hope for the future.

  7. Pingback: GOP Should be Making it Easier for People to Earn a Living | Fauquier County Young Republicans

  8. Emily Johnson Reply

    February 3, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    outstanding article! Bravo! Leave our small family farms alone.

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