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Modern day Robin Hoods

Published May 18. 2013 09:05AM

I'm sure when the name Robin Hood is mentioned various personages or characters spring to mind. For some, Errol Flynn is the face that lends Robin Hood life. In later years, it might be Kevin Costner or even Russell Crowe. Some of you might remember the Disney rendition where Robin Hood was a fox, while others with a more wacky reference would remember Mel Brooks' Robin Hood, Men in Tights. The infamous outlaw has been a part of history and legend for practically one thousand years, but little is known about him including if he actually existed.

What is known is that the term Robin Hood brings to mind for most people a freedom fighter, a representative of the underdog in society. He is the personage of those who want justice and vengeance in an unfair society. Considering his legend appears to have come in to being in medieval England and has some links to the injustice of medieval society and a greedy king desperate for the money to pay his debts, one does not have to wonder about his motives. Hood was someone who "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor." Those were the ones who were struggling to survive under oppressive taxes and a corrupt greedy monarch.

To the people he was a hero, to the powers that be a villain. While the original person if they existed is long lost in the sands of time, the legend has grown and become real through the portrayals of various actors in plays and movies as well as television shows. In one New England town however, Robin Hood and his band of merry men live again through the eyes of a half dozen citizens of Keene, New Hamsphire who are being sued for costing the city revenue.

Their crime is feeding parking meters that are about to expire which is preventing the city parking enforcement officers from ticketing them. Apparently the city views the parking tickets as lost revenue. Maybe it is just me, but do you see something wrong with this picture? Is the city truly relying on parking tickets as a revenue stream? According to a story this week from a local CBS affiliate, the group is being accused by the city of harassing their officers by beating them to cars with expired meters and feeding the meters. The story further relates how the city is claiming the officers are feeling high levels of stress and harassment from this band of meter feeding vigilantes. They are going so far to claim besides the revenue, the meter feeding "Robin Hood" band is creating an unsafe situation.

Maybe it is just me, but this seems a little ridiculous. Parking enforcement officers are claiming harassment because someone fills the meters before they can write parking tickets. The only stress levels I can see from such behavior would result from officials having to write a quota of tickets which is being regularly prevented by these change philanthropists. Perhaps what the city really objects to is the actual group of which these half dozen generous people are members. The news story says the group belongs to an organization called "Free Keene", a libertarian style society that is dedicated to minimizing the government's interference in the lives of its constituents.

Governments somewhere have gotten it into their minds that their job is to parent all of us as we are incapable of making decisions for ourselves. This has led us from a society where rules were in place that were necessary to one in which rules apparently are created to drive bureaucratic hierarchies. For example, the uniform construction code that was adopted several years ago by Pennsylvania as well as the rest of the states has created a cottage industry for so-called building inspectors. The claim was that it was for protecting insurance companies investments in its customers by guaranteeing that construction would be done with equal quality and standards.

In actuality in the past five years, these regulations while their intention might be protection have turned into a nice money making revenue stream for a new industry, the code enforcement officer. While some attempt to do a good job, there are others who use the law to beat people and extort money from them. There are cases where building inspectors will show up at a job site, charge a small fortune and only inspect to the point they find an error. At that point, they stop the inspection, write up the violation and require the contractor to fix it before they return. When they do return, they charge them for another inspection and do another partial inspection. I don't believe that was the spirit of the law, but they regularly get away with it because the municipalities that use them do not suffer from such behavior.

Our educational system is wreaking with regulations for the sake of regulation. The "No Child Left Behind" act has done more damage to educating our children than anything the government can invent on its own. You may ask how making sure children being taught to a universal standard is a problem. If they pass the test, then the system is working, right? Well I respectfully disagree. Teaching children to take a test so they can pass the standards is robbing them of the educational opportunities most of us have had, I believe.

Politicians are not educators and education is more than a series of standards. It is a process.

When teachers cannot take the time to educate children correctly but only to take a test, the government is then responsible for cheating them of a rich education and exchanging it for the minimal knowledge to pass a test. A ridiculous idea created by bureaucrats who want to play games with funding and not really care about children.

I think society would do well with more bureaucratic Robin Hoods and less bureaucrats myself. What do you think?

Til next time…

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