Tyranny of the majority on display in PTC

Terry Garlock's picture

The Peachtree City Council is considering a ban on gas-driven golf carts, granting preference to 95 percent of the people like me who purchased an electric golf cart.

I know the mayor and City Council members are good people, working hard for all of us with the best intentions. But I do hope those leaning toward the gas golf cart ban will consider what may appear at first to be an outrageous observation, that this tiny and local golf cart issue is symptomatic of a national breakdown in what we expect our government to do.

Our founding fathers, fearing the oppression of strong government, designed a system in which federal powers are enumerated in the Constitution – in order to severely limit those powers – and reserved all other powers to the people and the states.

In what I believe is an unforgivable betrayal, we have unchained the beast of an out-of-control federal government that long ago pushed past any Constitutional limitations and now sticks its nose into every crevice of our wallets and our lives.

We have lost the notion that government at all levels should be very limited and that citizens should be both free and responsible to care for themselves.

We have given in to the very enemy that worried our founding fathers most – human nature. While some are self-reliant, we have now raised generations that demand federal and local government solutions to ever more of their problems of daily life. Voter hands are permanently stretched out for ever more goodies from what seems an endless supply of free stuff, never mind every dollar spent by government had to be forcefully taken away from someone else.

What makes this worse is an unwillingness, or inability, of elected officials at all levels to draw boundaries around the limited and essential services they are to perform.

They seem unable to resist stepping over those lines to do more, more, more, with the best intentions to make our lives better even if that is not supposed to be their job, even if the result is digging deeper into our pocket for taxes, even if it means intruding further into our personal lives.

That is why, in government, I fear most those trying to help me, and feel most safe when Congress is in recess.

What should be the limits on local government?

Here’s one real issue on limits in Peachtree City – recreation. Our city spends far more on recreation than cities of comparable size.

In an era of budget crisis, is the recreation priority an essential part of the quality of life in our town, or is it a luxury we cannot afford and need to cut back to the proportion of, say, Riverdale? That’s a tough issue with deep passions on both sides and, unlike gas golf carts, is worthy of City Council focus.

But golf carts do raise their head in our town. A few years ago a golf cart with high lifts was damaged in a Peachtree City tunnel, and city staff’s response was to recommend new regulations to control golf cart height, width, lift height, wheel size, speed and braking ability.

The issue grew to quite an argument on golf cart freedom, and before it died a richly deserved death, I spoke to the city’s consultant who was recommending golf cart braking standards that would have rendered EZ-Go golf carts non-compliant; turns out he had deep Club Car ties. Go figure.

We dodged that regulatory bullet, and we thankfully don’t have to hire city staff to measure golf carts or test their stopping distance at a certain speed on level pavement so they can uncover infractions and penalize us.

But the nanny-city is re-awakened now that some complain gas golf carts are loud and smelly. A response to complainants is easy to me — whether your neighbor buys a gas or electric golf cart is none of the city’s business, and none of yours.

But complaints continue.

Just think of the pollution! Only 5 percent of golf carts in Peachtree City are gas-driven, so what’s the big deal with a ban? Advances in battery technology will make electric golf carts more efficient over time, and a ban on gas golf carts would generously grandfather current owners for 10 years.

Others argue they need the extra power of gas golf carts for climbing steep hills, and later models are pretty quiet. Businesses that rent golf carts to tourists argue the much-extended range of gas golf carts make cross-city jaunts possible, and they can immediately refuel without a charging period. Those businesses also make part of their living repairing and selling gas golf carts.

What about the pollution-creating energy it takes to generate the electricity to charge electric golf carts? What about city staff time administering a ban? Are we to regulate noisy and pollution-causing gas lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed trimmers and edgers as well?

Of all these issues on the pros and cons of gas golf carts, I don’t think a single one of them matters.

I am one who doesn’t care for gas golf carts, but my personal opinion doesn’t matter, either.

What matters is the freedom of my neighbors to make their own decision on what type of golf cart they wish to buy, and what matters is that neighbor’s choice is none of my business and none of the city’s business.

What matters is the City Council should learn to say NO to voters who ask officials to solve their every little problem.

What if a lot of voters want to ban gas golf carts? Being in the minority 5 percent does not diminish my neighbor’s right to be left alone. One of the principles of the founding of our country is protecting the minority from “the tyranny of the majority.”

Sometimes the right response to complaints is to do ... nothing. Some of the City Council members recognize this, and I am hopeful others will rethink the issue. With tight budgets and debates about city overstaffing, spending any more time on this issue is not wise.

[Terry Garlock is a Certified Financial Planner. He lives in Peachtree City and writes columns occasionally for The Citizen. His email is tgarlock@mindspring.com.]

SPQR
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ninja

Since we don't elect kings or other kinds of dictators our elected officials are not empowered to act on whim. Justification must drive official action. In this case justification is claimed but not demonstrated.

Ninja Guy
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SPQR: Kings and Whimsy

As I said, stinky and smelly seems justifiable if not justified in my view, but not in yours. In my personal case, I am willing to put up with some over-regulation to live in a city that is not trashed up, has good schools, and where a high percentage of the population has bachelor degrees or above. If that means I can't drive or have to sell my gas-powered golf cart at a loss, then that's the price I pay. For example, if the PTC city council mandated that all asphalt roofs must be replaced with solar panels within the next 10 years, I would start saving up for that now. Can't have anything in your yard but bermuda grass? Not a problem. No red front doors? Done deal. No beer on Sunday? Fine by me. Fines on swearing in public? I'll pay my ticket the next time I slam by finger in the car door at Target. No chickens in the back yard? Goodbye Henny Penny.

SPQR
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spy/ninja

Agreed. The rules are one of the things that make PTC exceptional. But what do you think about changing the rules in the middle of the game?

Ninja Guy
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SPQR: Rule Change

I think a 10-year grandfather clause is more than sufficient in this case. If rules were never changed in the middle of the game, nothing would ever change. Also, there are lots of places you can live on the south side of ATL with very little regulation, but PTC is one of the few cities in the nation based on the planned community concept from the outset. I would think Coweta is more suited for those 'you're infringing on my property rights' types.

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Ninja

I actually agree with changing the rules if for a good reason and there is verifiable support for the change. Do you think the reasons given are really substantial enough to make the change? Do you think an internet survey is a legitimate measure of public opinion? Do you honestly think a 10 year window for existing gas golf carts won't lessen their value?

Ninja Guy
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SPQR

Sure, for me, smelly and loud are enough reasons to ban them, but for you evidently not. However, that is beside the point. The fact is that we operate under a system of representative government, and the elected officials get to make the rules within certain constraints. It is probably not a good idea to govern based on the results of internet surveys, but citizen input is generally a positive. There are various factors that lessen or increase the value of any asset, and government regulations are inescapably among those.

bowser
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You tell 'em Terry

Yeah, before you know it, our infernal, out-of-control gub'mint will be banning gas motorboats and jetskis from Lakes Peachtree and Kedron!!

Oh, wait a minute....

Ninja Guy
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PTC: Planned Community

As far as I know, PTC was founded as and still is a 'planned community.' That means lots more regulations than your average municipality, such as no cars up on blocks in the driveway, white-tire flower planters, and, in this case, no gas-powered golf carts. I think one would want to check into that before moving here, especially libertarian/Hayekian types like Mr. Garlock. I know I did.

Spyglass
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I agree Ninja..

It's the rules we go by here that drew me to this place to begin with.

PTC Observer
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Terry Garlock

Notwithstanding the fact that you have already served your country, I would contribute to your campaign if you decide to run for ANYTHING.

rzz
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nuclear powered golf carts

I've developed a nuclear powered golf cart. I hope Terry champions it as it's rather smelly, and steamy and just a bit radioactive. There are other industries that use nuclear energy so I hope the local govment doesn't try to restrict my freedom to use my Mach II capable Club Car. Dang govment!

rzz
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Who is this jerkweed?

That he gets his own column. Gas golf carts stink. Nuff said. What I want to know is where in hell is the news in the "Citizen" about the meth lab bust and where in the hell in the "Citizen" is there for an average joe to voice his comments?

JeffC
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rzz

Terry Garlock served in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross. And your contribution to my freedom has been... what?

He gets a column because the guy who owns the paper asked him to or lets him write one.

From my point of view he's often wrong but I've always found his opinions worth considering; and he's not the one who's the jerkweed here.

tgarlock
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Jeff, it is high praise to be defended . . .

. . . by those who often disagree with me, and I thank you for your gentlemanly comments. I have in the past criticized the anonymity on this site because it encourages those inclined to juvenile and insulting remarks from hiding instead of keeping the exchanges polite and respectful as they should be, but I admit I was probably wrong on anonymity, and that the point about safety and privacy is the better part of the argument. So in order to protect ourselves I guess we have to put up with those who can't disagree without being disagreeable. Meanwhile, too late for me to hide in the weeds, and you're not doing very well on the hiding yourself.

Terry Garlock

JeffC
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Well thanks Terry

I didn't expect you to be checking the blog.

When I disagree you, I have to think about it. That makes it interesting.

Courthouserules
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Well ain't it just lovely

.......when two gentlemen get together and have a gentlemanly decent conversation that is respectful and polite and also not juvenile nor insulting!

Having read all of Mr. Garlock's articles which at the time that I read them I felt that what he had to say many times was ungentlemanly, juvenile, indecent, and insulting to people like me who have known for years that to put your real name on here is purely stupid business.

Garlock often proposes entirely unreasonable and impossible methods of running a government such as the USA. His having been awarded hero medals, or earned---whatever, is entirely admirable, and so is what others did which was identical to his accomplishments who were not unlucky enough to be wounded and maybe did or did not get put in for medals and such, has no bearing on gas golf carts in PTC!

The other gentleman, Jeff, is a superbly trained political writer who generally does not tackle individuals who are making the same mistakes made for hundreds of years.....but he will discuss the problem and not the individual.

All the discussions on here about good pork, the red-nek Riviera, bikes, restaurants, flying, traveling, beer, champaign, and countless other church conversations simply would not open up criticism of such things as Tennis Centers, Pool Covers, buying decrepit sewer systems, hypocritical waste of taxes on unneeded head counts and cuts in spending, and judicial systems filled with GOBs!

AtHomeGym
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Jeff, Terry & Purple Heart

No, Jeff, you don't "earn" a Purple Heart--you are "awarded" a Purple Heart--"earned" is ok for the others. Trust me--I know--I've been there!

mudcat
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Well said, rzzz. I think you proved Terry's point

You are a good example of the people he was discussing. Keep it up. Be a good example of a ****weed.

rzz
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so nothing to contribute

except to call me names. Still didn't answer my questions on how this lugnut got his own column and how come no story about the meth lab bust in peachtree city and is there any place on this entire site where someone can voice an opinion.

wildcat
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meth lab bust

Why isn't it in the paper? Wasn't it discovered yesterday?

NUK_1
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Dear Lugnut

Aren't you already expressing your opinion RIGHT HERE AND NOW? Duh.

AtHomeGym
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rzz & opinion

Scroll up to the top, clidk on "Opinion" and you can say what you want in "Free Speech" or write a letter to the Editor--or just create your own posts just like here--lots of opportunity. Terry is a routine contributor to the Citizen and also occasionally to the AJC. If you've got something to say, step right up to the plate!

rzz
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Yeah, about gas carts but.....

Is there a place on here to start your own thread? Duh?

JeffC
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Yes rzz

There is a place to start new threads here.

rzz
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ok....

Here's a link to the meth lab story. Don't know why there's no mention in this place.....

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/meth-lab-busted-in-peachtree-city

PTC Observer
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rzzzz........thread

you place the spool in your left hand (or right if you're left handed), find the end of the thread with your free hand and start pulling.

When you run out, go get another spool of thread.

Repeat.

Hope this helps pal.

rzz
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yeah

thanks pal. You are so helpful.

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