So you think there are "no rules"

Years ago, I was subscribed to some dead tree magazine about solar power. One article in particular made a big impression on me.

The author was located in a big city, I think Chicago, and was adding solar power with battery backup to his residence. He called around and found that this technology was new enough that there weren't any laws, regulations or governing bodies that covered it.

He got off the phone and quietly realized he was basically free to do as he pleased. He also didn't have to file any paperwork beforehand to do any of it.

It was a wonderful little article with a punch line wherein he realized he was actually doing something special one day when there was a power outage and he came home and aimed his garage door opener at the garage door and it opened -- business as usual for him -- while all his neighbors in the street stood around gaping at him while trying to keep cool in the heat.

I think it worked out for him because he understood that while he was basically free to do as he pleased, retaining that freedom and having it not come back to bite him hinged on him being careful and behaving responsibly. It didn't mean he could behave badly and then plead "but there was no controlling authority" -- the defense Al Gore infamously used in court which the news roundly mocked.

Legal loopholes are a two-way street. That's why Al Capone went to prison for tax evasion.

I've always been fond of the saying That government is best which governs least. I think one of the big things wrong with the US currently is that we have grown top heavy with an excess of rules and regulations.

I think we got a lot of those rules because of people deciding they could willfully misbehave due to a lack of rules that expressly covered THIS specific thing. One result is that a lot of our best cities and neighborhoods could not be built today.

Once those rules are in place, they are extremely hard to repeal. The New Urbanist movement has spent decades trying to figure out how to build walkable neighborhoods of old and it is generally an uphill battle if it can be done at all.

If you live in a small town or unincorporated community, you may have relatively few local laws or regulations concerning zoning or business. This can be a tremendous opportunity to do something wonderful.

Just don't make the mistake of thinking it means you can behave irresponsibly or with intentional malice aforethought. Doing so is a good way to learn that there are rules that already exist that they can apply to your willfully bad behavior.

Worse, they may decide to make new rules designed to deal with your bad behavior. Rules born of such situations tend to be bad rules that screw everything up for everyone for many years to come, you included.

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