Friday, July 15, 2011

Another Illogical Government "Solution" in Jeffersonville Indiana

HARBESON: Shutting the door on business

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — At first, I really sympathized with Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan last month when he was quoted in this newspaper as saying: “I don’t want somebody knocking on my door trying to sell me something.”

I don’t like it when politicians come knocking on my door either.

But then I realized he wasn’t talking about politicians, he was referring to hard-working business people and the city of Jeffersonville’s idea to stifle economic growth by interfering in their attempts to reach and interact with potential customers.

Galligan was supporting a moratorium on door-to-door sales and Jeffersonville’s City Council agreed with him. They even suspended the usual three readings so they could quickly and unanimously pass the moratorium.

I’m sure the mayor was quite pleased he didn’t have to knock on their door more than once to get them to buy.

The moratorium is supposedly temporary as they try to figure out how they will handle the activity going forward. I wonder how this will end up. I don’t necessarily care for door-to-door sales either, but it never occurred to me to use government to forcibly ban other people from engaging in the action.

But then again, I’m not a politician.

To be fair, the nuisance factor isn’t the only reason the city decided to declare this moratorium. Officials also said they were concerned about safety due to a “rash” of burglaries where suspects posed as salespeople and then robbed the place if no one was home.

I don’t really understand the reasoning applied here. Isn’t this like banning pedestrians due to a “rash” of carjackings at city road intersections?

And if the main purpose of this government action is to protect residents, then the moratorium as written is still a useless government interference because, as usual, the elected officials have allowed exceptions. In this instance the favored groups getting a pass are all tax-exempt organizations.

Criminals can just as easily pose as someone from one of these tax exempt organizations as they can from a for-profit business, so obviously a government decree would make no difference at all. It only has the potential to harm innocent business people working hard to support their families.

As a matter of fact, again based on the government’s own reasoning, a good case can be made that it’s the nonprofits that should be banned because people may let their guard down even more when they think the person canvassing their neighborhood is working for a charitable cause or promoting a specific church’s way to eternal salvation.

Not to mention the fact that plenty of people consider tax-exempt solicitations at their front door just as much of a nuisance as those coming from a business.

I just don’t understand the thought process that goes through elected officials’ heads when they support these illogical actions. Does it really make any sense to say that one individual can knock on your door and sell you popcorn so a kid can go on a camping trip, but another individual can’t knock on your door and ask you to buy ice cream so he can support his family?

The government will allow one person to sell nutritionally questionable cookies but another person can’t sell plain unbreaded frozen fish fillets?

Mayor Galligan says there are other ways for people to sell their goods and services, and this is true. Of course, the same reasoning applies to the tax-exempt organizations that solicit door-to-door as well.

Even though I don’t care for it, soliciting door-to-door is a method that some businesses and tax-exempt organizations choose to use and government should not interfere. If the mayor or anyone else is annoyed at solicitors of any kind, then all they have to do is shut the door.

— Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson has found a simple, quiet, fail-safe method to get solicitors to leave and never return: She answers the door naked.


  1. A couple of times opening the door holding a bowie knife that you are in the process of sharpening, or a gun you were cleaning, seems to put your house on some sort of "do not knock" list. Too bad too because I have a good time posing questions, and pointing out facts, that make the religious salespeople run away.

    I suppose if the mayor didn't want people knocking on his door he could have posted a sign on his door rather than posting an imaginary one on every door in town.

  2. hey Debbie. This article rocked! If only people would learn that the standards which they hold for private relations (that is, opposition to violence and coercion) must be the same standards to which we hold organizations, even those called government.