Thursday, February 21, 2013

HB 1481: Secondhand Articles

Virginia House Bill 1481, voted into law by ninety-eight Delegates and all forty State Senators, seems to be just a slightly overenthusiastic attempt to make it easier to track parts and materials stolen from buildings during or after construction.

Or is it an attempt to make it harder for people to maintain and improve their own homes? It's definitely not an attempt to make life easier for those who eke out their low incomes by selling broken glass and scrap metal for recycling.

Take a second look at some of those requirements. They're talking about junk, about parts salvaged from dumpsters, about things found beside roads where they've fallen off cars. I seldom walk into town without finding a few of these items beside the road. When I had a flea market booth, where mixed junk was expected and the more madly mixed it was the better people liked it, I used to have a bin of Mixed Metal & Junk. This was one of the attractions our friend Adayahi described as keeping the booth from being "only for ladies." Men and boys of all ages would buy grab bags of nails, washers, random bits of recyclable metal; I've paid men for odd jobs with a box of it, but I can't imagine anybody making serious money from it.

HB 1481 requires that all scrap metal, even a kitchen-sized bag of aluminum cans that a non-junk flea market dealer might thoughtfully collect after giving cold drinks with purchases on a hot day, be micromanaged as if it were gold. If I ever set up another booth in a flea market, I now have to get some sort of special permit from the sheriff to sell a handful of old nails I picked up off the road, mainly because I didn't want to step on them, for one or two dollars.

This is going to stop people breaking into houses to steal water faucets, or risking their lives to steal copper wire off electrical power lines? I don't think so...we had laws about that sort of thing, and the people stealing the faucets and copper wire were criminals anyway. What HB 1481 is likely to do is intimidate your garden variety small recycler into giving up any attempt to sell what is rightfully his, or pick up what needed to be picked up off the road.

Agenda 21 at work. Get rid of small private enterprise--it leads to autonomy, gives the peasants too much freedom, encourages poor people to think about working and saving instead of clamoring for revolutions.