A Fine Kettle of Fish – Pete Blome

Dear Fellow Tea Party Members,

On 9 February we had the opportunity to listen first hand to the plight of Sea Charter Fisherman Capt Eller, and how federal and state regulation threatens to ruin a large segment of what remains of the Destin charter fishing fleet.

Like typical good citizens, the various proposals to fix the problem went from calling our federal and state representatives to support corrective legislation, to writing letters, to having face to face meetings with the chief Washington bureaucrat that caused the mess by his edicts with the power of law, a Dr Crabtree.

As useful as these steps may appear to be, to me they miss the point.  Limited government has become a thing of the past in our land of the free and home of the brave.   Fishermen who supposedly have the right to own property, contract freely and enjoy the protection of the 10th amendment, in fact, do not.

By an act of bureaucratic decree, supported by federal legislation and a supreme court ruling (Wickard vs Felburn, 1942, where the Supreme Court decided the Federal Government has a constitutional right to regulate how much wheat a Kansas wheat farmer grows even on his own property for his own use), the federal government overrules our state of Florida in fishing matters.  Our state of Florida overrules its own fishermen in the pursuit of their livelihood, forcing them to get permits, and thereby places limits on the wealth they can accumulate.  Neither the Feds nor the state go out and sweat for fish, nor take on the financial risk of running a fishing company, but are in a position of dictating how that company must operate and share the catch.  Worse still, the feds and the state of Florida are controlled by legislatures that have no direct stake in the success or failure of the fishing industry.  To them, a fishing fleet is just one more source of tax revenue to be exchanged for any other.

It should not be this way.  Limited government does not mean a government that decides not to interfere, it means a government that cannot interfere.  Individuals must  succeed or fail on their own circumstances.  The purpose of government is not to own businesses, or to grant favors, but to protect individual rights.

There is a false enlightenment in America that thinks government control is necessary to prevent depletion of the environment or ensure a steady market when individuals would ruin what they have.

As Captain Eller abundantly made clear, fishermen have a vested interest in what they do, and in the past did self- regulate either through moral persuasion, association contracts, or even by power of the marketplace.  If depletion takes place, fewer fish means higher prices.  Higher prices mean less fish are bought and sold restricting the size of the fleet.  How is this different than what the government is doing now?  It is artificially restricting the amount of buying and selling of fish resulting in higher prices and a reduction of the fleet.

Government regulation doesn’t ensure anything except a bigger government, and all it does is transfer the ability of the Destin fishermen to run their own lives over to a government bureaucracy that must be bowed and scraped to.

The Tea Party must get more to the root of what ails us.


Pete Blome


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