Elaine Kelly is a perfect example of a victim of federal regulations against businesses


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Hoot Owl Hollow Campground in western Dubuque is quite the place. A few recreational vehicles stand in the wooded landscape along a serene, murky body of water. A swimming pool accompanies a small clubhouse with laundry and restroom facilities. A playground set gives the kids another thing to occupy their time during their weekend vacation. Can't you just smell the campfire burning and taste the burnt marshmallows?

Well, not anymore. Federal prosecutors charged the campground's owner Elaine Kelly with a felony violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act, to which she pleaded guilty on March 13. Though Kelly is now in the process of appealing her plea, if convicted, she will face eight to 14 months in prison. Kelly is 65 years old and has 13 grandchildren.

Keep that in mind for a few moments.

Now, imagine you live on a family farm. The sun is shining, and the air is crisp. You are doing some quick maintenance on your harvester before you head out to the field. Your younger brother is willing to help you, so you hand him a power drill to screw in fresh screws to replace stripped ones.

Well, he can't do that anymore. Regulations filed by the Labor and Transportation Departments severely limit what youths can do on a family farm. Power tools and machinery? Not without a commercial driver's license and a time log similar to a trucker's. Handling certain pesticides? Heavens, no. Branding cattle? No. You could burn your finger.

Seeing a pattern yet?

Last summer during RAGBRAI in Coralville, 4-year-old Abigail Krutsinger decided to set up a lemonade stand to make big bucks and quench the bikers' thirst in the July heat. It was a shining example of capitalism: A little girl made a product that people wanted and was rewarded monetarily for her efforts. America — land of the free, home of 25-cent lemonade on street corners. Right?

Well, her profits were cut a bit short. Police shut down Abigail's stand just 30 minutes after she set it up. The officers reportedly stated that she violated an ordinance that "vendors" along the bikers' route must have a permit to sell a food product.

Libertarian television personality John Stossel experimented with this strange law and his own lemonade stand in New York City. He found that he needed to jump through tight hoops and sift through piles of red tape in order to stay open. His requirements included registering as a sole proprietor with the County Clerk's Office, applying for an employer-identification number with the IRS, completing a 15-hour food-safety course, applying for a temporary food-service-establishment permit, and more. He estimated it would take 65 days to open his lemonade stand legally.

Let's answer a fundamental question: What am I? I would respond by saying, "I am a man." How would you respond? Are you a mammal? A vessel? A thing? A bunch of cells arranged in the right way to generate life? Or are you a man?

Those other responses are how most of our leaders view us. To them, we can be manipulated into doing exactly what they would like us to do. Big Brother creeps like regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, wanting to "nudge" us into bidding their will in the tradition of Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud, and Joseph Goebbels.

How much longer will this go on? I am fed up with these executive elites claiming that they know better than the people. We must declare that "I am a man." We must declare that "I have certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away." We must declare "I will not comply to your manipulation and control of my choices."

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