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Erlkönig: Noah, the New Ark, and Governmental Regulations

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If Noah had lived in the United States in the year 2001, his story may have gone something like this:

And the Lord spoke to Noah, and said, In one year, I am going to make it rain and the rain shall not stop until it submerges the entire earth and all living flesh is destroyed. Because of this, I want you to save the righteous people and two of every living species on earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark.

In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark. Daunted by this task, but respectful of God's wishes, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the ark.

Remember, said the Lord, you must complete the Ark and fill it in one year's time.

Exactly a year later, fierce storm cloud covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping.

Noah! He shouted. Where is the Ark?

Lord, please forgive me, cried Noah. I did my best, but there were big problems. First, I had to get a permit for construction, and Your plans did not meet the building codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans.

Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a sprinkler system and approved floatation devices.

Then, my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission.

Then, I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark, because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I really needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won't let me take the two owls.

The carpenters formed a union and went on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or hammer. Now, I have 16 carpenters on the Ark, but still no owls.

When I started rounding up the other animals, an animal rights group sued me. They objected to me taking only two of each kind aboard. This suit is pending.

Meanwhile, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on Your proposed flood. They didn't take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the taxes since all I had was a command from Creator of the Universe.

Then, the Army Corps of Engineers demanded a map of the proposed flood plain. I sent them a globe. Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking atheists aboard.

The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I'm building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying the state some kind of user tax and that I failed to register the Ark as a 'recreational water craft'.

And, finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it's a religious event, and, therefore unconstitutional. Lord, I really don't think I can finish the Ark for another five or six years.

Noah waited. The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine, and the seas began to calm. A rainbow arced across the sky. Noah looked up hopefully. You mean you're not going to destroy the earth, Lord?

No, God said sadly. I don't have to. The government already has.

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