The government of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika is tyrannical and seeks to destroy the freedom of every subject living under its control. Career politicians and their bureaucratic lackeys love nothing more than to do things that destroy personal freedom and make us all government dependent drones. One of the most recent examples of this truth is what is taking place in the short-term rental real estate market. I am sure readers of this blog are aware of this new outburst of freedom that is sweeping the country. People who own homes are using the internet to connect with other people who want to rent those homes for a short period of time. Everyone wins as people freely rent their homes to people who want to visit a particular area for a while and have the comfort and convenience of a home setting as opposed to a hotel. As you would expect, government agents despise this new expression of freedom and are quickly moving to squelch it. Let's talk about that for a while today.
George Mayl of Denver wrote a letter to the editor of the Denver Post that succinctly summarizes the position of freedom haters seeking to use the coercive power of government to control the behavior of their neighbors. I will quote his letter in its entirety since it is such a sterling example of so many of the things wrong with these people. He writes, "Let's first state the obvious: short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods have been and continue to be illegal. These 'hosts' know it is illegal, but have done so in the past and continue because they make money at neighborhood's expense. They can say how wonderful it is having 'guests' come and stay and feel the real Denver --- but make no mistake, its about the dollars. At the four town hall meetings, these lawbreakers said they do not want the city to enforce a permanent-residence clause, meaning a short-term rental must be your primary residence. Neighborhoods are for fostering our children, protecting our neighbors and enjoying our solitude; they are not entertainment centers. The City Council should put the issue up for a vote of the people."
George is mad about a lot of things. Mostly he is mad that other people are making money and he is not. That is a characteristic typical of people who are riddled with envy. For a man attempting to make a moral argument, George is not getting off to a good start. George begins by telling us what we already know. According to Denver law, no rental property may be rented for a period less than 30 days. The clear intention of that law is to prohibit people from renting their residences on a short-term basis. The reason for the existence of that law is less obvious to the untrained eye. Fortunately my trained Welsh eyes see many things that others do not.
The law forbidding short term rentals was put into the books to protect the motel/hotel lobby. Career politicians in Denver have bought a lot of votes over the years by pandering to this lobby. The payback for the votes they picked up was the creation of a law to grant special government protection to owners of hotels and motels. Then, in a classic case of "you scratch my back and I will scratch yours," the hotel/motel lobby agreed to collect a 10.75% hotel tax on every room rented, passing that tax on to the hapless tourists who visit this town and sending the largess to the city to use to buy votes from other politically privileged groups.
Of course no politician and no special interest group is ever going to admit that this is precisely what is going on. In order to justify their immoral relationship they couch their behavior in terms of the public health, the public interest or some other thing having to do with the public. We have heard the arguments many times. The government must forbid short-term rentals because the presence of a short-term rental property increases traffic flow which inevitably causes dozens of fatalities as the guests run over school children on their way to visit the Denver Mint. Those same guests also drink too much and become unruly in the late hours of the evening. No citizen of Denver has ever been guilty of being drunk and disorderly. It is always these stinking tourists who come in and ruin the place. Public peace and tranquility is always destroyed when some freedom loving property owner decides to rent his property to a tourist for 29 days.
George says that people who rent out their homes to tourists are making "money at neighborhood's expense." Notwithstanding (the) poor grammar, I am not sure what he means. I don't know what a neighborhood is and I don't see how a neighborhood, if it could be defined, is going to end up paying the bills for a short-term rental owner. George offers no insight into what he means when he makes the outrageous and irrational claim that his neighborhood, whatever it is, is going to be stuck with some sort of bill from either the property owners or their guests after their stay is over.
George also says, "make no mistake, it is about the dollars." Apparently George considers this to be a bad thing. Too bad George does not understand more about economics. If he did he would realize that profits are realized when entrepreneurs satisfy the needs of consumers. Indeed, profits are the most sure sign that business people are making their customers happy. In case George is not aware, that is a good state of affairs. Short-term rental proprietors are not engaging in an immoral business activity and when they rent their properties to tourists the tourists are glad to pay the rental fee. There is no coercion involved. Both parties go away happy. The tourists exchange their dollars for a rental and the owner receives dollars for giving up his home for a couple of days. Like all free market transactions, both parties go away satisfied. This outrages George who does not believe people should be free, satisfied or happy.
George refers to the "town hall" meetings that bureaucrats with the City of Denver have been holding to try and come up with a way to extract more money from the citizens. The bureaucrats are smart enough to realize that the freedom brought to the citizenry by the internet makes it truly impossible for them to enforce the no short-term rental law. So what have they cooked up instead? They want to create a new law that allows only resident owners to engage in short-term rental agreements. This proposed new rule is, of course, described as being in the best interests of the public but it is pretty clear what is going on here. By excluding non-resident owners of short-term rentals the bureaucrats are quite efficiently getting rid of people who could not vote for them in the next election. No harm is done to their political careers. Those resident owners which remain in the business will be "licensed." That means they will be given government monopoly privileges that benefit both them and the city government. The city government benefits because it charges an annual fee for the license. The short-term rental owner benefits because he can use the power of government to exclude some of his competitors from the business, thus enabling him to raise rents. The licensed business owner now has a strong incentive to call the cops on his unlicensed competitor. This law, and hundreds of others just like it, is one of the best tools used by government to turn citizens into a de facto police force. Isn't it wonderful every time government gets involved with something. So many noble people and so many noble motivations rise to the surface every time a government agent walks into the room.
George concludes his diatribe by giving us a bit of philosophy. Although I still do not know what a neighborhood is, he proceeds to tell me what a neighborhood does. According to George, a neighborhood does three things: 1) foster our children, 2) protect our neighbors and, 3) enjoy our solitude. Let's consider these three things for a moment.
I guess if neighborhoods actually exist, and George believes they do, they are somehow able to reproduce. When a male and female neighborhood get together something magical happens. They produce children. The children do not belong to anyone in particular. Indeed, according to George, they belong to everyone. George believes that they are "our" children, whatever that means. I do not know how else to interpret George's assertion that neighborhoods "protect our children." I know what children are. I know who my children are and I also know that I am the one responsible for protecting them. If some neighborhood ever knocks on my front door and tries to protect my kids I will have a most unpleasant response ready for it.
Neighborhoods also exist to protect our neighbors. That can't be completely true because some of the neighbors in the neighborhood want to rent out their properties on a short-term basis. George does not want the neighborhood to protect those neighbors. I guess George believes that neighborhoods should exist to protect only the neighbors he likes. I wonder if George has, or had, kids? I wonder if he sent, or is sending, them to government schools? I wonder if George realizes that if he has sent his kids to government schools he has robbed his neighbors to pay part of the costs associated with schooling his children. Apparently George believes robbing his neighbor is a form of protection. Wow! That sounds a lot like the mafia, don't you think?
George also believes that neighborhoods exist to protect his solitude. What a strange contradiction. Solitude is found in isolation, not in groups of people. If George really wanted solitude he should have purchased several acres of land in the mountains to live on. Why would any person in his right mind buy a home in a neighborhood and then expect that neighborhood to protect his solitude? Answer: George is not in his right mind.
George finishes with his coup de gras when he writes, "The City Council should put the issue up for a vote of the people." I knew George would eventually become a preacher for his religion. George believes in the religion of democracy where the will of the majority is the voice of God Himself. George is so mad that some of his neighbors are making money, that school children are being run over by cars on a daily basis and that he has no solitude in the middle of his neighborhood, whatever that is, that he wants to call for a service of religious worship where the faithful will gather, enjoy the sacrament of voting and impose their sovereign will upon some unlucky minority that is only trying to serve the public. Enjoy your worship service George. Maybe some day you will discover you are worshiping idols and repent before it is too late.