mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

So much for keeping government out of the bedroom...

John Miller at NRO points out this Washington Post Article about Manassas, Virgina cracking down on the number of people living in houses. Like many places, they have laws on how many unrelated people can live in a house. Unlike most places, they've redefined what "related" means so that nephews, uncles, ect aren't considered related.

The effort is to crack down on large immigrant families who have their extended families living under one roof. Which is bringing about cries of racism.

I tend to be a big fan of property rights, and I think once you own a house, you should be able to do what you want with it - including the right to have however many friends, family members, or significant others living with you as you would like. The government telling you how many family members you can have live with you is literally government coming into the bedrooms of you house - and I thought Griswold v Conneticut and Lawrence v Texas were against that kind of thing.

Now, I am also a firm believer that the right to your fist ends where my nose begins, so to speak. And thus I understand that laws like this are designed to look at quality of life - if I own a house and my neigbors like to have lound parties late into the night, I would hope they would invite me. But many other people would prefer not to live next to loud late partiers or people with piles of trash on the lawn or who hog all the parking spaces on the street. So if a large group of people occupying a house is doing those things, there are existing zoning laws that the government can go after those people with. The law is at best redundant and at worst an attempt to get rid of people who the goverment wants to get rid of even though they are living within all other zoning/quality of life laws.

But the situation does show one other thing - the problems of using property taxes as a means of financing local government. There is a reasonable, nonracist reason to be agains having a ton of people living in one house - the larger burden they place on town resources. A house with 10 people in it produces more trash and probably has more children in school than a smaller house. And as more and more people wait to have children or don't have children, or live longer, the population is increasing divided into those who consume large amounts of services, particularly education - like large immigrant families living together in the same house - and people who don't but are paying for those who do, like single people and the elderly.

I would like to see a lot of things - like education, trash pickup, parks - move more to "user fees" where people pay for what they consume. I doubt that will ever happen. Between property taxes and income taxes, I'm not sure which is worse - right now I make a decent amount and rent, so I don't like income taxes, but once I buy Casa de Mad Anthony, I would probably be more against property taxes. But it does seem that as family structures change and become more diverse, property taxes - which seem to assume that most families are mom/dad/2.5 kids - are becoming somewhat antiquated.


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