Government-Assigned Housing

This article in the Washington Monthly is an example of what most clueless fools would call “taking something to extremes.”  Oh, they would say, we need laws to force employers to hire against their own judgement, landlords to rent against their own judgement, country clubs to admit against their own judgement, banks to lend against their own judgement, and colleges to admit against their own judgement.

But for crimminy’s sake, don’t take this to extremes!

Uh, umm, my god, err, ack… forcing people to live with roommates against their own judgement!  Wow, that would be like … like a fascist dictatorship!

That is correct.  It is fascism.

The following money quotes come straight from the comments on the article:

Blind Elephant 1:  “Web sites should not held liable just because some users are using it in ways which violate fair housing laws.”

Blind Elephant 2: “I think there is a huge difference between selecting your next door neighbor and selecting your roommate.”

Blind Donkey: “Thirty five years ago the Pittsburgh Press argued that the First Amendment gave it the right to run sex-segregated want ads. The Supreme Court didn’t buy that exception either.”

The first elephant is arguing that it’s OK to outlaw selecting your roommate, but roommates.com should be let off the hook because they’re just a common carrier like the post office or the phone company, not responsible for illegal acts committed using their resources.

The second elephant is saying that it’s OK to outlaw selecting your next door neighbor, but for some reason selecting your roommate ought to be legal.

The donkey is saying that, just to clarify, the first amendment is not applied to laws prohibiting the freedom of the classified-ad press.

As usual, neither side addresses the real issue: on whose judgement should your life be based?

Most normal people recognize that choosing a roommate is a personal decision that can’t be forced on you at gunpoint by jackbooted thugs.  What they fail to realize is that this is the same principle that governs hiring, renting, lending, etc.  They fail to realize that, no matter how “noble” the intentions sound, when it’s put into practice it is inevitably vicious.  There is no way to rule people’s lives by force and threat of violence which isn’t vicious.

What complicates this issue is that it’s obviously bad to hire based on skin color.  There is no rational way to defend this kind of prejudice.  Anyone who wants to do this is irrational, and a big fool.  They will suffer the consequences in the free market.

But there is a big difference between “bad” and “illegal”.  Nothing gives you the right to pick up a gun to force a company to change its policies.  It’s their money, not yours.

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