Our View opined against the regulations, and offered a fair solution:
The buzz among beekeepers is that the proposed rules reflect one or two recent incidents of badly behaved beekeepers, including one who had 33 hives on a 97-by-100-foot property.
The solution, however, is not a heavy-handed regime treating all beekeepers like the worst practitioners, but guidance to new and hobbyist beekeepers about proper practices and a formal complaint and review process for the few occasions where problems arise.
I left these comments on the Di Ionno article:
I’ve have lived in the Three Bridges area right up the street from Bob Kloss [quoted in the article] for 40 years. We’ve known the Klosses for at least the last 25 years. In all this time, we’ve never heard of any complaints in our town about Kloss’s beekeeping—not directly from neighbors nor indirectly through hearsay. I know of no complaints filed with the township government.
So why punish them with added costs and regulations? Because a beekeeper operation in Peapack-Gladstone created a nuisance for neighbors? Certainly, everyone has a right not to be harmed (or their property) by neighboring operations, based on the principal of property rights. But neither should a person be interfered with by government for engaging in legal activities on his own property that harms no one else. Why punish the innocent?
And that’s the dirty little secret of government regulation; the punishing of the innocent for the wrongdoing of the guilty. A good poster child for this premise is Sarbanes-Oxley, the giant financial regulatory bill passed after the 1999-2000 Enron accounting scandals. Enron, Worldcom, and a few other companies defrauded investors—and were prosecuted under pre-existing laws. Yet Congress and President Bush passed Sarbanes-Oxley, allegedly to “prevent” future fraud but which in reality burdened the thousands of companies that didn’t cook the books with new regulations—in effect, punishing the innocent many for the wrongdoing of the few.
We see this pattern time and again. Somebody does something wrong, and regulations reign down on an entire industry or sector. These new beekeeper regulations seem to fit that pattern. Which begs the question: Why not deal with actual instances of actual harm done to neighbors by beekeepers as they arise, leaving the innocent alone? What ever happened to the principle “innocent until proven guilty”?
We need to rethink the entire nature of government regulation. Here in New Jersey as well as at the federal level, we’ve created a swarm of basically unproductive government bureaucrats whose job it is to regulate the productive without any apparent guiding principles. The result is a growing burden of regulatory penalties dumped on the innocent and responsible who have done nothing wrong and have violated no one’s rights. Law should protect the innocent and the responsible, while punishing the guilty and providing for the restitution to victims of unscrupulous or careless operators. If the governments’ regulatory apparatus were forced to adhere to the principle of innocent until proven guilty, the regulatory burden would be greatly reduced while providing much greater resources for legitimate law enforcement. Preventive law—a law that presumes guilt before evidence of guilt arises—is not legitimate law. It’s time our government stuck to punishing the guilty and stopped regulating the innocent.
Where Does Valid Law End and Regulation Begin? by me, for The Objective Standard
Don’t Regulate the Innocent, Punish the Guilty by me, for The Objective Standard