Friday, April 29, 2011

Local tyranny is also the most blatant

If a person is unlucky enough to rent an apartment in the cities of Lancaster, California or Palmdale, California, that person no longer has any fourth amendment protections against searches. It is written in to the law of both cities. The setup is convoluted, but the end result is that no renter has rights.

It starts with code enforcement, as do many of the evils of local government. In order to ensure that apartment complex managers and owners are not mistreating the tenants, code enforcement officials are authorized to enter any rental unit without the permission of or a warrant against the people dwelling there.

So in order to ensure that, for example a fire detector has the batteries installed, agents of the government are allowed in with only the requirement that the property owner, not the renter, be notified. And this only applies to rental properties; homeowners are not subject to these inspections.

The problem is that anything that the renter might be doing is reportable to the police, and the word of the safety code inspector is all the police need to get a warrant. That means that apartment renters are subject to criminal searches under building and safety codes.

Given the vast number of laws that people are subjected to, and nobody knows all the laws that a person must obey, this means that the one guarantee people have to protect them from malicious prosecution – the fourth amendment prohibition against warrantless searches – is null and void for anyone who rents an apartment in Lancaster or Palmdale.

The theory behind the reportability is that since the government agent already has permission to enter the home, anything found is legally reportable. But the search is technically on the property of the lessor, not the dwelling of the lessee. It is a difference without a difference as far as the city governments are concerned.

One could make an argument that this is a coincidental byproduct, an unintended consequence. That would be understandable, except for the wording of the ordinances. Lancaster has the more severe wording.

5.40.020 Purpose

The existence of substandard and unsanitary residential rental properties and residential rental units, the physical conditions and characteristics of which violate applicable state housing, county and local codes and render them unfit or unsafe for human occupancy and habitation, threatens the physical, social, and economic stability of sound residential buildings and areas, and their supporting neighborhood facilities and institutions; necessitates disproportionate expenditures of public funds for remedial action; impairs the efficient and economical exercise of governmental power and functions; and destroys the amenity of residential areas and neighborhoods and the community as a whole. It has been statistically demonstrated that areas with rental housing facilities are responsible for a disproportionate share of police calls for service.

The disproportionate demand upon police services necessitates a disproportionate expenditure of public funds for such properties and impairs the property value of these properties and the surrounding neighborhoods as well as community as a whole.

It is the purpose of this chapter to implement a crime free rental housing program ("LANCAP") to provide a stable, more satisfied tenant base; increase demand for rental units with a reputation for active management; lower maintenance and repair costs; increase property values, and improve the personal safety for tenants, landlords, and managers.

It is also the purpose of this chapter to identify the existence of substandard and unsanitary residential rental properties and rental units and to cause the owner thereof to cure such defects.

For these reasons, it is in the public interest for the protection of the health and safety of the people of Lancaster to protect and promote the existence of sound and wholesome residential rental properties and residential rental units by the adoption of regulations for participants in LANCAP training and the periodic inspection of such structures.

The second paragraph is a key point. Given that the description of how substandard construction drains resources is already in the first paragraph, the second paragraph as a stand-alone describes apartment dwellers alone as being more prone to uncivil behavior.

On the national level, the TSA already has completely dispensed with the fourth amendment, but at least they do so on the refuted claim that they are trying to keep people safe from terrorists. In the case of Lancaster and Palmdale they lack even that much of a justification for eliminating the rights that should belong to every American.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Local tyranny is also the most intense

Local zoning laws, local code enforcement, and local property rights issues are the areas where the government’s tyranny is both the most petty and most oppressive. Petty neighbors will unleash the power of government against those with whom they have a personal dislike.

Such is the case with a man from Littlerock, CA. In a case of selective enforcement, where many properties are undoubtedly in some code violation, the county has chosen to ignore neighbors with those violations and concentrate only on him.

He has the County of Los Angeles threatening him with criminal charges for two reasons. The first is that he collects classic cars. Many of them do not operate, and apparently it is against county code to maintain inoperable vehicles on ones property. It is not a matter of whether or not these cars are properly registered, it is only a matter of these cars being inoperable.

The second is a public service he has been performing for the desert communities in the eastern side of northern Los Angeles County. He collected trash that people dump in the along the sides of the road and sorts through it to separate the recyclables from the trash. There is nothing in county code against doing that, so he thought it was allowed. According to representatives from the county, there is nothing in county code allowing that, so they say it is forbidden.

One would think that cleaning up the illegal dumping would be a valuable public service in the eyes of the county. To add further insult, he has been cited with violation of existing code provisions for home based occupations (022.070.035, which permits home based occupations).

When he first aroused the wrath of the county they merely suggested he put up a privacy fence so that his collection would not be an eyesore. He did that, and thought his ordeal was over. But merely following the advice of county code enforcement was not enough, and they determined that he was engaged in an illegal use of his property.

In a negotiation with representatives of the county, he was given 45 days to remove all inoperable vehicles. His lawyer protested that he would need 90 days. The county threatened him with criminal charges unless he agreed with the 45 day time frame. If he does not complete the removal in 45 days the county will likely press forward with the criminal charges.

Moreover he was threatened with being declared incompetent or a "hoarder," and threatened with having a "receiver" assigned to him at his own expense. This receiver would have the county come in with a crew of workers and trucks to clean everything off the property. To pay for this a special tax would be assessed against him that would try to pay this bill off in three years, and if he is unable to pay the expense then the county would place a lien against his property for unpaid taxes that would authorize the county to sell his property at auction.

There seems to be a definite trend with the county harassing elderly property owners with sanctions that ultimately result in seizing their land. They seek those who have the least resources to fight back and harasses them to the point where they are unable to resist any further, breaking them physically, mentally, and financially.

This fight has drained the meager resources of this man from Littlerock, and he has discovered that there is precious little separation of powers in Los Angeles County. There is little in the way of accountability or appeal. This is local tyranny at its finest and worst.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Economically Pivotal Presidency

When looking over the statistics on which president was the most irresponsible spender, an interesting feature of the data became apparent. The first time the data was presented, the most obvious thing to note was that George W. Bush was the worst spender. Further analysis presents another interesting fact – the pivotal role in history of Herbert Hoover. Every president before Hoover had smaller deficits than Hoover. Every president after Hoover had larger deficits than Hoover.

-99,776,642,401.45 Bush Jr Term 1
-96,408,875,337.91 F Roosevelt Term 3
-90,255,665,689.94 Bush Sr
-63,508,876,217.31 Clinton Term 1
-60,226,092,484.91 Bush Jr Term 2
-55,620,058,613.77 Reagan Term 2
-37,083,571,857.12 Nixon
-34,590,184,231.84 Reagan Term 1
-31,541,432,371.56 Clinton Term 2
-30,632,171,603.66 Nixon / Ford
-30,513,251,062.43 F Roosevelt / Truman
-25,169,881,466.50 Carter
-22,277,279,516.03 Wilson Term 2
-19,947,226,430.95 L. Johnson
-14,907,433,625.97 Kennedy / Johnson
-9,064,312,546.96 F Roosevelt Term 1
-8,064,456,770.95 Eisenhower Term 1
-7,979,119,959.91 Eisenhower Term 2
-5,516,035,432.17 F Roosevelt Term 2
-4,087,245,363.90 Truman
-2,006,485,523.53 Hoover
-1,750,942,082.69 Lincoln Term 1
-845,903,480.62 Lincoln / Johnson
-738,552,212.80 Wilson Term 1
-366,738,464.61 McKinley
-362,676,610.68 T Roosevelt Term 2
-241,610,193.89 Taft
-181,124,526.17 Cleveland Term 2
-126,862,797.32 T Roosevelt Term 1
-82,125,195.84 Madison Term 2
-32,869,749.98 Buchanan
-23,583,209.73 Polk
-19,154,479.48 Taylor / Fillmore
-18,210,776.96 Tyler
-6,534,247.41 Washington Term 2
-3,535,830.77 VanBuren
-3,450,826.53 Jefferson Term 1
-1,764,448.14 Washington Term 1
745,788.38 Monroe Term 2
785,877.72 John Adams
19,986,580.07 Madison Term 1
21,230,802.91 Jefferson Term 2
22,794,733.90 John Quincy Adams
24,284,722.13 Jackson Term 2
34,226,803.81 Pierce
36,319,367.59 Monroe Term 1
43,152,808.69 Jackson Term 1
59,905,475.18 Hayes
72,820,997.22 Grant Term 2
104,415,146.68 Harrison
137,703,187.95 Cleveland Term 1
289,746,134.16 Garfield / Arthur
408,388,139.06 Grant Term 1
3,647,830,832.07 Coolidge
4,686,460,530.01 Harding / Coolidge

It was Herbert Hoover who created the programs that Franklin Roosevelt eventually collected in to the New Deal, and it was the New Deal, more than any other political-economic event that permanently cemented the government’s role in the economy.

Although other presidents can be credited with laying the necessary ground work for the New Deal, it was Hoover who took the final step and make it happen. F. Roosevelt’s only contribution was to make it permanent, an important step but not nearly as creative as what Hoover did. Economically speaking, Herbert Hoover was the pivotal president in American History.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Government Shutdown

It is obviously a farce to call what will happen "government shutdown" because of the many areas that will not be shut down. If the government goes in to "shutdown" that does not mean that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and other countries will cease. Nor will any person in federal prison for victimless crimes be released. Nor will the legislators who are fighting with each other with regards to the shutdown fail to receive their pay. Nor will the DEA stop harassing medicinal marijuana clinics that are authorized under state laws. Nor will the IRS cease harassing any person who may be delinquent or deficient on their taxes.

Also, if the government goes in to "shutdown" that only impacts portions of the federal government, and not the state or local governments as their budgets, taxes, and spending are all separate from the federal budget. The schools, the police, the utilities if they are municipal, and other various local agencies will still operate.

In spite of that, there is a lot of coverage in the mainstream media of the local economic impacts that shutting down a tiny portion of the government will have. Particular attention is paid to communities that exist near the "non-essential" functions such as parks. The coverage completely overlooks the question of whether or not the government should be involved in non-essential functions in the first place.

So many places and endeavors throughout the country have become dependent on federal spending, federal projects, or federal support. For example, there are communities that exist outside of federal parks, and they would lack the spending of the tourists if the federal park itself shuts down. This only shows just how bad the situation really is. In a free economy, the impact of the federal government is negligible.

That is one of the many reasons why bringing the federal government to a balanced budget would be so difficult, bringing it to constitutional levels would be even harder, and bringing it down to libertarian levels seems to be an impossibility. Every single cut has a fiercely supportive built in constituency, those who have become dependent on the drug of government spending.

Therefore when someone suggests even a minor cut, he gets fierce criticism. And when Randall Paul suggests cuts that really are substantial but even he admits don't go nearly far enough, people think the suggestion isn't serious at proof that Senator Paul is too radical. It seems a great idea to harshly criticize anyone who suggests any cut to any program, and a great idea to reward anyone who supports a program that anyone likes. Doing so is a great way to ensure that the government does eventually become completely insolvent.

Perhaps complete insolvency is the only way out of this budget dilemma.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Double Dip is a Lie

The failure of the economy to recover after the collapse in 2007 has become so evident that nobody can deny it any longer. This creates an interesting dilemma for Keynesians who have spent the whole time since Obama was sworn in predicting an imminent recovery.

It is true that, due to a quirk of accounting, technically the recession ended already. Government spending shot up in response to the downturn. Unfortunately government spending is included in the GDP, so therefore the GDP went up as a result of government spending increasing faster than the rest of the economy was declining. Since "recession" is defined as consecutive quarters of economic decline, any increase in GDP is considered to be the end of a recession.

Unlike "recession," the term "depression" has no exact definition and is usually considered to be enduring high unemployment. This has enabled mainstream economists to deny that the economy of the United States is in such a state due to the ways unemployment is disguised by government employment.

But using the government to artificially inflate the economy is highly unsustainable. At best it is temporary; at worst it makes the economy far worse due to the attempt. The current situation is not “at best” and the economy is rapidly deteriorating.

Since the economic signals are so bad that it is becoming impossible to ignore. That is why all economists dedicated to the mainstream are calling it a “double dip”. Those on the right side of the Keynesian spectrum are blaming Obama, while those on the left side of the Keynesian spectrum are blaming Bush.

Libertarians know that it is not a whole new recession. They know that it is a continuance and a worsening of the current plight facing the United States economy. For tactical reasons it is important to correct everyone who says that this is a whole new economic downturn.