John Locke’s concept of “life, liberty and property” had a good run. I know we shouldn’t mourn too much over something that lived over 300 years but its existence was tragically cut short by President Obama and the Housing and Urban Development clan. Earlier this week, HUD’s Office of General Counsel Guidance provided some unwanted “guidance” which, according to the document, will “analyze claims that a housing provider’s use of criminal history to deny housing opportunities results in a discriminatory effect.” In other words, HUD effectively implied that a private landowner’s right to deny potential renters because they are also criminals is “racist”.
The policy continues, “Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system…arbitrary and overbroad criminal history-related bans are likely to lack a legally sufficient justification.” Because now, if it’s rational, it’s racist. .HUD Secretary Julian Castro who spoke at National Low Income Housing Coalition on April 4th elaborated on this sudden social calamity,
“The fact that you were arrested shouldn’t keep you from getting a job and it shouldn’t keep you from renting a home. When someone has been convicted of a crime and has paid their debt to society, then they ought to have an effective second chance at life. The ability to find housing is an indispensable second chance in life.”
First off, is it even worth reminding Castro that neither being arrested nor convicted makes it impossible to get a job or a place to live? It just means that in a democracy built on individual liberty and responsibility, you can’t thrust the responsibility for your own life onto someone else. To that point, nobody has a right to live in property they don’t own. That’s kind of the point of personal property. It’s yours, not theirs. I’m sure President Obama and Castro are already drooling over this as a potential precedent for the government just simplifying everything and owning it all.
Sadly for the American Dream, but not for that particular Socialist wet dream, I doubt Locke resides on any HUD bookshelves. Locke demonstrated over 300 years ago that the value of a regular Joe owning his own piece of land is a basic right, not a government consent, because it’s the lynchpin to financial and political freedom. For most of history physical property was owned by a small percentage of cultural and political elites who enforced their will upon the masses who worked that land they never owned all their life. The argument about property ownership was a fight for proving that everybody had a right to their own societal identity and independence The right to own your own property was about the right to own your own life, free from the classist oppression of your assumed political and cultural betters.
300 years later, enter Obama and HUD who seem eager to turn back the clock in the name of “social justice”. You know, liberals love to attack Reagan for rattling the diplomatic saber against the Soviet Union in the 80s (who cares that it ended the Cold War). But really, even Reagan could take a few lessons from Obama and his disciples considering how unapologetically they rattle their social justice saber to justify government encroachment. If HUD’s policy really were about racism, they would stop protecting the criminals from the consequences of their life choices and start protecting minorities from the damming effects all these hideous leftist policies. Of course it isn’t.
This new policy is no more about racism than John Locke’s writings were about playing Monopoly.