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Barriers to Independent Farmers

Here's a pretty old legacy post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 23 years ago, in 2001, on the World Wide Web.

OK, so we returned from the Permanent Autonomous Zones conference a bit worn out on crusty punk kids, but very charged by the experience and ready to work on a lot of possible projects, including setting up a radical civic media center / infoshop in Auburn. On getting home, I checked out information on getting a business license in the city of Auburn.

So here’s a question: why the hell does it cost $505.00 just for the privilege of being allowed to sell watermelons out of your truck without the cops harassing you? It costs only $105 or so to get a business license if you want to sell stuff out of your shop, so why the extra $400 just for the privilege of setting your truck out in the hot sun on somebody’s parking lot (assuming you can get their permission to use their parking lot in the first place). Does the city really have that much of an interest in preventing impoverished local farmers from selling their own damn stuff instead of being ripped off by corporatized grocers? The barriers to entry for any new independent businesses are insane — costs for a business license, and just the basic work of sifting through a 30-page licensing ordinance; no wonder downtown Auburn is being completely colonized by corporate chains like the GAP and Mellow Mushroom, who already have tons of pencil-pushers hired to take care of all this crap. Meanwhile, local farmers and booksellers are sliding out of business and not coming back thanks in large part to these pointless start-up costs imposed by city government’s corporativist economic planning.

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