Putting Free Enterprise on Ice in New Jersey

It has been said that, in a socialist state, whatever is not forbidden is compulsory. That appears to be true in the People's Republic of New Jersey, where law enforcement officials shut down a couple of kids trying to make a few dollars shoveling snow.

From  Watchdog.org:

Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf, both 18-year-olds from Bound Brook, N.J., were going door-to-door in their neighborhood Jan. 27, handing out homemade flyers that offered snow-shoveling services. School had already been canceled for the next day, when a winter storm was expected to bury their portion of the Garden State under several inches of cold white powder.

But their offer of a free exchange of services for cash caught the attention of the local police force.

According to local news reports, the cops told the kids they weren’t allowed to solicit business by going door-to-door without a permit from the local government.

That permit would have been very expensive:

To get a permit for door-to-door solicitation in Bound Brook, Molinari and Schnepf would have had to pay the borough $450 (and the government-issued permission slip is only good for 180 days at a time, which is fine if you’re trying to run a snow-shoveling business, but not so great if you’re trying to offer services year-round).

At that cost, they’d have little chance of making any profit — unless the fine folks of Bound Brook are willing to pay $100 to have their driveways and front walks cleared.

Now, the state of New Jersey has a law requiring that all automobiles have snow removed before they may be driven, and that may be difficult for someone who is elderly or sick. New Jersey also compels owners of parking lots or whatnot to remove snow from handicapped spaces and clear the lot. Many municipalities in New Jersey have ordinances requiring walks be shoveled, or otherwise mandating and regulating snow removal.

From New Jersey Today:

In Chatham Township, you can barely make a snow angel without bumping into an ordinance violation.

Specifically, there is Ordinance 2009-19 — the one that prohibits residents from shoveling snow onto their neighbors’ properties without permission.

In Roselle Park, residents or businesses who leave snow uncleared or throw it in the street face having public works employees clear it for them — and then getting charged for the labor.

And Newark prohibits residents from putting snow or ice in streets, with fines for the violation ranging from $100 to $1,000. [...]

Snow rules and regulations abound around the state, setting time limits on how long sidewalks can remain covered and where the snow can and can’t be shoveled.

Many towns have time limits, between 12 and 24 hours of daylight after the last flake falls, after which property owners must get snow off the sidewalks. Edison residents slow to shovel, for example, face a $250 fine if they wait 12 hours before removing snow. Somerville residents can be fined up to $1,250.

Bridgewater has an ordinance that calls for snow removal from sidewalks in 24 hours. Jim Naples, township administrator, says the township sends out a notification to homeowners after that point. He said it does call for a fine after that point, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced.

So, government forces snow removal in many instances, and then will not allow someone to hire a non-licensed person to aid in its removal.

I could not find the pertinent laws in the municipality in question online, however I would not be surprised if they had such an ordinance.

What is an elderly or sick person on a fixed income to do?

Another point to ponder; most state laws acknowledge a lack of liability on the part of homeowners if they do not shovel walkways, but hold them to account if they disturb the natural condition. In other words, once you shovel you can be held liable. But so many municipalities require shoveling. What happens if someone falls after you have shoveled? In a way the law banning unlicensed persons from shoveling makes sense, because they need someone to do the job who can be held accountable if someone slips. That is, it makes sense in the liberal world where everything is mandatory or forbidden. That's the trouble with trying to micromanage life; every time you shackle one problem you create three more. It's reminiscent of the old child's song about swallowing a spider to catch the fly you swallowed; eventually you end up swallowing a horse and it kills you. Better to face a certain amount of risk than compel safety or face the wrath of government.

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit

Tim blogs at The Aviary. www.tbirdnow.mee.nu