10 December 2013

Housing Discrimination and Private Property Rights

HUD has a radio ad about "property discrimination." Surprisingly, it is a crime to be discriminating when deciding whom may rent your private property. Maybe I don't want to retrofit my 150 year old building to accommodate people with wheelchairs or who are morbidly obese. Maybe I don't want a crack dealer or gang member or convicted felon renting my property. Maybe I don't want people who can't speak English or who play loud music or have huge parties with their entire tribe at my private property. There should be absolutely nothing controversial about this!

If I can't be discriminating with regard to who rents my private property – people who are my responsibility – then in what sense can we say we have private property rights? In what sense can we call this a free country?

This is a separate issue from the ideal world. Divorced from issues of love thy brother as thyself and judging people by the content of their character rather than the colour of their marble (the Dr. King statue controversy). Al that is still true, and that is the ideal, but this is an issue of freedom. Let's face it, if someone tried to have a "coloured only" fast food shop today the free market wold see the place lose business and close down rather quickly. If we treat people like adults and let them have the free choice the Lord has endowed us all with, many people will choose to do the right thing and the free market will close down many of the other establishments. What this really is about is the issue of a grotesquely bloated predatory government trying to legislate morality. We see how well the government runs the post office and the IRS and public education (fewer than 40% of HS graduates actually have a twelfth grade level of education – "no child left behind" was instituted by Bush because he didn't want to be left behind as a child. It may or may not be true, but it still is funny.). So, with the stellar failure of everything the government does, why do we think the government should try to regulate morality?

And this is all skirting the issue that it is my property! My private property should be something I have more control over. If I want whites only living in my house I should have that right. Other like-minded people will congregate around me and different-minded people will go somewhere else, like adults. People who like to smoke should have freedom of smoking and be allowed to work at pro-smoking establishments and non-smokers would do the same at smoke-free places, just like I should have the right to rent my private property to whomever I want.

I know I'm repeating myself here, but freedom is something I am really concerned with. My earliest memory is of wanting freedom and resenting authority, so freedom is sort of my thing. Again, this is beside the point of loving others and judging people based on their characters – all good stuff – but being good is meaningless when it is forced.

(Written 31 October 2012)

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