Government bureaucracy burns me up

“The nine most dangerous words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”

—President Ronald Reagan

As of this writing, the Angora Fire at Lake Tahoe has been extinguished. As if you didn’t get enough coverage from our local drama queens on television—which roughly followed this format: 1) Show fire. 2) Interview victim who has lost home and contents. 3) Interview fire official. 4) Show fire. 5) Mug for camera and lament the inhumanity over the senseless tragedy. 6) Back to anchor for lame comments to fill time before commercial break.

OK, here’s the short version, as abridged at The fire burned about 3,100 acres. It destroyed some 242 residences and another 67 commercial buildings. Approximately 2,180 firefighters were involved in putting the thing out. Oh yes, and the cost was a smoking $11.7 million (although some estimates are millions higher).

I’m sure there were a number of civic-minded individuals who cared enough to donate to the two dozen or so businesses and religious organizations who helped the victims out. Now, lest I sound like a cold-hearted rodent of questionable parental lineage, I will stipulate it was tragic for those involved. Allow me just to say I doubt most spent more than 60 seconds feeling sorry for a bunch of people who lived in obscenely overpriced homes smack in the middle of a tinder pile. Assuming said individuals were reasonably responsible adults, they were, in all probability, insured and all will be just fine.

In a July 6 press release (available here:, Gov. Jim Gibbons has written to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to create a joint commission to review forest management practices in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Yippee. Just what the lake needs, yet another government bureaucracy.

The governor cited the TRPA’s “171-page landscaping guide” as reason for the commission to “conduct a comprehensive overview of forest management in the Lake Tahoe basin, including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.” He said “the bureaucracy … leads to deadly and dangerous results.”

Perhaps most telling is this little warning from the TRPA’s Web site relating to downloading said ordinances. “Note: The entire Code is too large to download as a single file. It can cause Adobe Acrobat to lock up.”

And yet, apparently, the solution to solving one bureaucracy is to create another. Or something to that effect.

Perhaps more ironic is that the governors’ commission comes on the heel of the nation’s birth—which for the ignorant masses has become nothing more than a day off work for parties and fireworks.

Recall that July 4 was the date 54 of the most brilliant men of all time renounced tyranny and the divine right of kings and set the foundation of this country on the basis that all rights were inalienable and came from God—or if you prefer, nature.

So distrustful were they of the power of government that they took 13 years to recognize that the Articles of Confederation—the nation’s first attempt at a Constitution—had to be re-worked.

More than 200 years later, one must apply to our government for all manner of permissions. To build a house. To operate a vehicle. To open a business. To travel. And in the TRPA’s case, 171 pages to dictate Lake Tahoe resident’s landscaping. And still the governors of two states think another bureaucracy is the solution to Tahoe’s problems?

Perhaps someone needs an education about the basis on which the country was founded. More importantly, that perhaps brings us back to Reagan’s nine-word warning.