Previously on H3
A six-part series? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
A quick synopsis for newcomers or those who haven’t kept up or those have who smoked and/or drank away all their long-term memory cells. In 1988 I helped my father build a home, since then we’ve built on average two homes per year. All but one in the same development, a gated lake community run by a Home Owners Association. Over those thirty years, building codes were adopted and updated, the HOA’s rules and requirements were expanded, technology improved the tools of the trade, products, and materials. In the previous articles, I examined these changes by comparing the building of that first house and the one we started this spring. Here I attempt to relate what all this has to do with libertarianism, or at least how it has influenced my libertarianism, otherwise known as the only true libertarianism.
What Did You Learn?
Aside from the specifics, probably not much, the recurring themes were likely no surprise to most Gliberati, being the heartless greedy anarchistic greasepaint-mustachioed aginners that you lot are.
⦁ Market driven improvements in tools and materials save time and money or add value through better products.
⦁ The regulatory changes be they from the HOA or the building codes they adopted do little if anything to add value to the homes, and cost the builders and owners time and money.
⦁ Codes and regulations create a false sense of security. Why exercise due diligence when the Government/HOA says everything’s cool?
⦁ Top Men® are rarely competent or particularly knowledgeable, and even the good ones are subject to human nature, i.e. power corrupts…etc.
⦁ Paperwork, red tape, and other bureaucratic nonsense are at best a ‘cover your ass’ legality for the HOA and at worst a ‘process as punishment’ deterrent.
What Did I Learn?
That writing is hard; I can install crown moulding like it grew there, but stringing together a few sentences takes far more skill. You get drunk and bang out a few paragraphs then the next morning you delete all but a few phrases, rinse and repeat until you have something resembling a coherent thought. Luckily, I also learned that I can absolutely butcher the language and waterboard syntax for the sole purpose of shoehorning Elvis Costello album titles into my posts and not a single one of you will notice. I mean I can see how ‘This Year’s Model’ kind of worked but who says ‘Punch the Clock’ or ‘Imperial Bedroom’? C’mon people, work with me here.
What Does This Have To Do With True libertarianism?
After all the bitching it may surprise some of you that I have absolutely no problem with the concept of HOAs. Some of you may recall that I even defend HOAs when we get the occasional link about a resident breaking some stupid rule and getting into a fight with their HOA. I may not want to live under the rules of one, but it’s not up to me to tell others that they can’t. As I tell Commies and So-cons alike, if I had my way they would still be able to go off and live in some free-loving-malnourished-dog-filled-smelly-hippie commune or some stick-up-their-ass-WASP-only-country-club community, just don’t force anyone to join who doesn’t want to. That’s how I see HOAs.
Some argue that this is a violation of basic property rights, that you don’t ‘truly’ own your land if you can’t do whatever you want with it. That may be true; it’s just not a big deal, if people want to buy land that comes with strings attached, who am I to stop them? If I want to sell some excess property but don’t want a pig farm next door, there is nothing un-libertarian about having a ‘no pig farm’ clause in the contract. I also have no problem with an ‘if you sell you have to include a ‘no pig farm clause” and an ‘if you sell you have to include an ‘if you sell you have to include a ‘no pig farm clause”’ and so on and so on and scooby doobie doo. You want un-stringed land? proclaim yourself King, Chief, or Big Kahuna then raise an army, conquer some land, and hold it. That’s the only way you’re going to truly own your land.
That said, all rules are not created equal. Most people join HOAs because they want to live in a community with certain shared aesthetics. They don’t want a doublewide next to their half-million dollar manse, they don’t want chain link fences or front yards filled with cars on blocks. What they do not particularly care about is if their neighbor’s great room has natural lighting equal to or greater than 8% of the floor area. However once you set up a system to make and enforce rules you get people using it to make and enforce rules, and they don’t stop at the ones that ‘most people’ want, they use the system to push their agenda.
Like the discussion had in the comments of Desk Jockey’s excellent ‘Hillbillies can Maths Two’ post, governing bodies govern. Mini anarchism is an impossibility. Even in this small rural community, the HOA has grown year after year infringing on more and more of the freedoms the people who voluntarily joined once enjoyed. Most of these people don’t care, they are content to live their lives… going fishing or boating or just sitting in their home and reading self-affirming blog posts. It’s human nature and the inevitable lure of power that ensures governments will only attract those that want something to be done!!
Dealing with the arbitrary rules of both the HOA and the building code that they adopted led me to realize that all rules, not most, but all rules are subjective. For a while, I accepted that we needed electrical and plumbing and structural codes: egress windows and smoke detectors just make sense. These were objectively obvious necessities. Then they changed the rules about attaching deck ledger boards to the house. The laws of physics hadn’t changed, and the way we had always done it was structurally sound, decks weren’t falling off of homes left and right and yet some far off panel of ‘experts’ had decided that we now had to do things differently. This got me thinking about the other ‘obvious’ codes. Why is a railing required to be 36″, why not 35″ or 37″. Why should smoke detectors be required in every bedroom but not the living room or den? Oh, I see, bedrooms are ‘sleeping areas.’ I’m sure not one of you reading this has ever fallen asleep on the couch in your living room or office or den. Hell, I’ve woken up (okay ‘come to’) in my bathtub a time or three.
Trust all this useless beauty, the King of America may spike the brutal youth with secret(s) profane and sugarcane. When I was cruel yet mighty, like a rose, blood and chocolate brought national ransom by the delivery man with the Juliet letters. North!! Il Sogno, Momofuku…Momofuku’s
Huh, so that’s how Agile Cyborg did it. I’ll be damned.