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A tale illustrating how out-of-control government effects real people by my friend, Gary Paduch.
Old man Pervis made a meager living plowing peoples gardens with his old mule Tom. They also did odd jobs with his wagon and mule drawn hay mowing machine. But, times had changed and work was slow. Tom ate a great deal of hay and oats. The old man's profit margin had declined as he and Tom grew older. The old man decided to gradually cut back on Tom’s food just a handful a day. He reasoned Tom would get used to it and he would have a bigger profit margin, even though this strategy would only amount to a few cents per day. The plan was working to perfection except after a few months old Tom fell over stone cold dead from the lack of nutrition. His resistance to disease, parasites and God knows what else had caused his demise.
Tom lay dead out behind his small shed. Old man Pervis would have to hire old man Hawkins to come with his backhoe and bury old Tom. It was a sad day and very little money was left in the Pervis cookie jar. He’d have to walk to the store and leave word for Mr. Hawkins to come quickly as Tom was getting “ripe” and the smell was going to be over powering in very short order.
As he sat on his small back door stoop, a car pulled into his dirt driveway. It was an official government car. Pervis walked to meet the driver. “Are you Pervis?” the man asked. “I am, what can I do for you?” Pervis said.
“Mr. Pervis, I am with the county code department. We have information that you have been operating a mule without a permit and have failed to pay your annual mule tax!” Mr. Pervis looked perplexed. “I never heered about such a thing” he answered softly. The code enforcement man spoke harshly, “Mr. Pervis, ignorance of the law is no excuse. You are going to have to learn the code and pay the mule tax and permit fees, plus penalties and interest. How long have you had the mule?”
Old man Pervis' eyeballs were now the size of golf balls. “I reckon about 15 years or so. He’s been a good mule.” “My God”, said the code enforcer, “This is a most serious matter! Where is the mule now?”
Pervis responded, “He’s down yonder behind the shed.” The old man pointed in the direction of the shed. The enforcer glared at Pervis. “Mr. Pervis, I may have to confiscate your mule in light of this most serious lengthy violation”. The old man Pervis said, “ That would be all right with me. He’s dropped over stone cold dead”. The enforcer paused after a few minutes. He asked the old man, “Mr. Pervis do you have your MOSHA documents available, and your occupational license, your mule skinner continuing education certificates, zoning compliance letter and certificate of occupancy for that shed?”
The old man sat down on a stump at the edge of the drive way, “I ain't got non of that stuff. I ain't never heered of such a thing”. The old man wrung his old large callous hands together. “I am just an old man, trying to earn a living.” The enforcer was not moved. “Mr. Pervis I don’t make the laws, smarter men than me do that. I just enforce them. I’m going to have to red flag this property and notify the county code director, MOSHA and other appropriate federal, state, county and other jurisdictional authorities.”
At this point Mrs. Pervis hobbled out to the two men, She wore her only dress. She and it were thin and worn. “Gene is something wrong?” she asked. “This man is a high governmental official with the county and the USA. He says I have broken the law in every way because of dead Tom. As best as I can figure, I’m headed for prison. He is going to red flag our house and shed. We’re done for. He says smarter men has set up these laws. You’ll have to get on the food stamps and the welfare. Only God can help us now.”
They stood together near the sawed off stump as the code enforcer wrote out a citation and strung out red plastic tie down ribbons around their property. It was a warm day. Tom would fill the air with his sweet aroma quickly. There was nothing the Pervises could do. There was nothing anyone could do. The government was in charge. Small mule skinners had no chance.
When the enforcer was finished, he walked over to Mr. and Mrs. Pervis, “I’m sorry about your loss, but I must advise you that you’ll have to get an environmental burial permit and file the required death certificates. I hope you can get another mule so you can get back to work.” He tipped his hat.
Old man Pervis said, “Another mule, what little money we got is going to lawyers to keep us out of jail.” “I’m sorry,” said the enforcer. “I don’t make the rules I just enforce them.” He then drove away.