Scott Tibbs

Housing is not a right

By Scott Tibbs, August 11, 2021

A right is something you have naturally without anyone else needing to contribute to it. No one has to rent a stadium or buy a full-page newspaper ad in order for me to have the right to freedom of assembly or free speech. If someone else must be forced to provide something for you, it cannot be a right. Housing is not a "right," because ultimately someone must be forced to provide it or pay for it - or both.

When the Centers for Disease Control prohibited landlords from evicting people for non-payment of rent, they overstepped their legal and constitutional authority, as well as depriving the landlords' of their private property rights without due process of law. This law-by-fiat was a taking of rental properties by the federal government, and the Trump Administration should have immediately reversed it. It was deeply irresponsible for a Republican administration to allow this power grab, and it never should have went to the Supreme Court.

Allowing people to live rent-free (which is what effectively happened, as millions piled up months of back rent) created a perverse incentive, strengthening an entitlement mentality. Worse yet, that entitlement mentality is not for government benefits (which must still be paid for with money forcibly confiscated from someone else) but for the private property of another person. Not only is this bad policy, it was politically counterproductive. Republicans will never be able to be a bigger Santa Claus than the Democrats, so playing their game gains nothing.

There have been many politicians who have exploited their emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this was one of the worst. The Centers for Disease Control was never intended to be an agency that regulated the relationships between landlords and tenants. Had this been done by an act of Congress, it would have been bad enough. But to have this done by federal bureaucrats is unacceptable.

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