Streetwise Professor

August 4, 2021

Your Property Is Unsafe Because the Executive Never Sleeps

Filed under: CoronaCrisis,Economics,Politics,Regulation — cpirrong @ 6:35 pm

Sometime 19th century judge Gideon John Tucker opined: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”

Mr. Tucker’s opinion is sadly out of date. Now those things are not safe as long as the executive is in session–which is always.

If you’ve been like Rip Van Winkle, and haven’t noticed this, well the “Biden” administration has given you a wakeup call. The CDC–well known regulator of real estate markets–has extended its moratorium on evictions, for 90 percent of the country anyways. Because Covid.

Isn’t everything?

The Supreme Court has already indicated that this is flatly unconstitutional absent Congressional legislation. Which it clearly is. Though the Supreme Court should go further. Any Congressional legislation remotely similar to the CDC ukase should also be held unconstitutional under the 5th Amendment, which states that no person shall be “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Preventing someone from evicting them from his/her property is clearly depriving that person of his/her property. The defining feature of property is the right to exclude others from the use thereof. If you can’t keep others from using it, it ain’t yours.

Ironic, no, from a government that is ruthlessly pursuing those who trespassed on the Capitol on 6 January?

The CDC is not providing due process–this is a blanket ban. The CDC is not providing compensation. Any “law” that mimics the features of the CDC order would be a blatant infringement on 5th Amendment rights.

The justification for this given by the CDC’s director, Rochelle Walensky (one of the lying Walenskys?) is utterly appalling: “This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads.”

Gee, I missed the “right thing to do” clause in the Constitution. I also missed the “congregate settings Covid” exception to the 5th.

It is particularly nauseating to hear this bilge from the “our sacred democracy” crowd. If unilateral expropriation of property with zero process whatsoever, and no compensation whatsoever, is the hallmark of “our sacred democracy” I say hard pass to democracy. Give me autocracy. Autocracy is functionally the same, but doesn’t add the insults of virtue signaling and preening hypocrisy to the injury of theft.

Biden and Walensky essentially caved to the leftist extreme in the Democratic Party, with the utterly loathsome Rep. Cori Bush (D(uh), MO) leading the charge. Go to Twitter to see the “rationale” advanced by the supporters of this. To summarize: Proudhon said it first (“property is theft,” so stealing it back is fine):

One of my followers asked how could someone so stupid get 480,000 followers. I said

Speaking of stupid, Maxine Waters got in the act, ironically channeling Andrew Jackson (or at least a possibly apocryphal statement attributed to him):

“Who is going to stop them?” That is, “the Supreme Court has made its ruling: now let it enforce it.”

Under the CDC/Biden theory, there are no checks on the government’s authority whatsoever. Say the magic word–“COVID”–and anything is possible.

Which, by the way, is precisely why the ruling class is so hell bent on perpetuating the Covid scare. And which is why, when (if) Covid fades away, another “emergency” will be ginned up to take its place.

To the extent that he is conscious, Biden consciously acknowledged that this action is unconstitutional. But he obviously doesn’t care. Or, he cares more about protecting his political flank than about respecting his oath of office.

The purpose of the compensation clause is to force government to put its money where its mouth is: if a rental unit is more valuable in the hands of its current occupant, who is (allegedly) unable to pay, then go through the political process of appropriating money to pay the property owner to allow said occupant to continue to reside there. The idea is to approximate the outcome of voluntary arms length transactions when some transactions cost (e.g., holdup problems) make such voluntary transactions prohibitively expensive. A compensation requirement, properly implemented, helps ensure that property is allocated to its highest value use.

This process is imperfect, but at least it allows for some element of accountability for those who vote for it. Allow a government to take valuable property, without compensation, without process, and by an agency completely insulated from electoral accountability, and you will see it take and take and take and take. Because it pays no price. When someone pays no price, it consumes to satiation. And governments are never satiated.

Today it’s Covid. Tomorrow it will be something else. Legislature in session or no, your property will be unsafe as long as a bureaucrat can conjure up an “emergency” to justify taking it.

Forget the rule of law. We live under the rule of the lawless.

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  1. People can now invite fellow derelicts into their apartment building, where they can squat, as trespassers, and landlords can’t get them out. The police can’t help. It’s madness, there is no common sense in this country any more.

    Comment by Christopher L Hunt — August 5, 2021 @ 3:47 am

  2. The Left are bad pupils. Didn’t learn the first lesson of revolution: it’s a <a href=";. They think the monster they woke [pun intended] will not touch them? They think they can control the lynching mob/blm thugs/hongwebing ? They think their own estate and mansions will be kept sacred as oasis in the desert in the universal pogrom?
    They should think twice.

    Comment by Tatyana — August 5, 2021 @ 7:53 am

  3. Link got mangled.
    Saturn eating his children

    Comment by Tatyana — August 5, 2021 @ 7:54 am

  4. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

    But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

    Comment by Pat Frank — August 5, 2021 @ 9:37 am

  5. Calm down America, lots of countries have restrictions on evictions, and it doesn’t lead to tyrannical government.

    That being said, my example comes from France where:
    A: Landlords know about these restrictions before they engage their capital, can take insurance against that risk and can price it into the rent. It isn’t sprung on them as the CDC is trying to do.
    B: The government supports the build-to-rent sector through income-tax breaks for landlords, which is the flip-side to all these social policies that, as the Prof notes, the American left tends to ignore. You can’t just demand that the private sector provide social services free of charge indefinitely – if you want it, you have to pay for it… Otherwise it’s just old-school Communism…

    Comment by HibernoFrog — August 6, 2021 @ 8:05 am

  6. Hiberno, who told you that America want to be like Europe? They lied: we do not.
    That’s the point, actually, the whole reason why people from all over the world want to immigrate here: that we differ not just from Africa, but from euro-crats, too, in particular, where property rights are concerned.

    Comment by Tatyana — August 6, 2021 @ 12:36 pm

  7. Supreme Court ain’t got no tanks.
    Now where did I hear that?

    Meanwhile Proudhon: Property=Theft. Obviously a patron saint of the EU 🙂

    Comment by Simple Simon — August 8, 2021 @ 10:40 am

  8. @Tatyana: I don’t think I implied that, or that anybody told me that. I’m merely observing that society is unlikely to collapse due to eviction restrictions, since this is common practice in other countries.

    Comment by HibernoFrog — August 9, 2021 @ 1:49 am

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