A Question of Ethics

In our city of Lake Oswego, there is a magical book, hidden somewhere in a cubical on the third story of City Hall. This book is full of completely subjective rules that each merchant, in each building, on every block in town must abide by. The rules are different for each building and neighborhood. They were created out of thin air by a person holding some degree of authority at some point in the history of this city.

The rules are accessible to the merchants and although they are extremely restrictive, they are certainly precise. However, knowing and obeying the rules are not good enough. A merchant must not only acknowledge and abide by these completely subjective rules, the merchant must also pay a fee of $115 to ask permission to comply!

Somehow, in some people’s minds, it has become ethical for one person to dictate to another person the use of their private property, to restrict the efficacy of an individuals’ trade and add insult to injury by steeling $115 in order to gain the right to beg for permission to obey the rules.

Of course, what makes it somehow “ethical” is that the people who are using force against others are able to hide behind a bureaucracy called “The City”. Since “The City” is not a person, then you can’t very well place responsibility on any aggressor, yet they are there.

Some people think my politics are extreme or just plain strange, but ask yourself this question: If you owned a business and the person across the street came over and dictated to you what your business sign should read, where it should be placed, how large it should be (all of which are extremely restrictive) and DEMANDED money for the privileged of compliance, would you not label that person an aggressor? These mob-like tactics would be appalling to most people and easily recognizable as unethical. If it is unethical for individuals to act in this manner, then why are these actions acceptable as long as the individuals are labeled “The City”?


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