Community

Getting All the Government We Pay For

Ignore the dangling participle in the headline.  I know it violates the rules of grammar, if not conversation in my neighborhood.  Lately, I’ve been looking at the state closest to Montana in population – Rhode Island.  Until this last decennial census, it had two congresscritters and we had but one.  Next year, the shoe goes onto the other foot – we will have two and they will have one.

One of the Rhode Island stories I ran across was an article titled “I Battled Rhode Island’s Cookie Police.”  Now Rhode Island is 1214 square miles – in Lincoln County terms, about the size of a high school district.  The entire state consists of one metropolitan area – Providence.  I don’t believe I have ever been in Rhode Island – or if I have, I must have missed it.

Kara Donovan opens her story: “Friends raved when I started making hand-decorated sugar cookies for my children’s birthday parties in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. They often would tell their friends about me, and soon other parents were asking me to bake for their events. Before long a small business emerged in my kitchen. I called the enterprise A Spoonful of Sugar. As a stay-at-home mom with four children under the age of 12, I had limited opportunities for income. So, the revenue proved valuable.”

Her second paragraph ends “Customers also appreciated my commitment to food quality and safety. They trusted me, and I never received a complaint. Everyone was happy — except the Rhode Island Department of Health, which shut me down in January 2021.”

Obviously there was a law: “The reason had nothing to do with my facilities or processes. Regulators never even inspected my kitchen or sampled my work before taking action. They ordered me to halt my operation based on a zero-tolerance law in Rhode Island that blocks everyone except farmers from selling “cottage food,” meaning food made in a home kitchen for sale.”

She points out that there are fewer than 1800 farmers in Rhode Island.  Now that was interesting – if you split this little state equally between the farmers, each would have about 40 acres.  She wrote of her need to rent a commercial kitchen 7 miles away.  Now a farm has to produce $1000 worth of ag products in a year, so I’m not sure it wouldn’t be possible to qualify a backyard as a farm – but the point is her tax dollars paid the folks who closed her business, and, according to her story, it was a business that would have been legal in 48 of the fifty states. 

At any rate, it’s a good article, about fighting the cookie police in the state next to us in population.  She’s probably too civilized to think “X. Biedler, where are you when we really need you?”

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