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Issue #9 - local-government inspections

Under the radar of public attention, local governments in the United States are routinely abusing property owners. The main abuse is delivered through the inspections process. The burgeoning nonprofit sector, adept at using other people's money, provides the political infrastructure for rancorous campaigns against small business owners conducted by elected officials.

City governments abuse people in some of the following ways: 1. They shift the blame for crime from themselves and their police departments to the owners of “problem properties” who are accused of condoning crime. The property owners so stigmatized are then punished by city inspectors who have limitless powers to find code violations and impose fines, if not condemn the properties. 2. Regarding inspections as a profit center, city officials instruct inspectors to generate maximum revenue by finding code violations and fining the supposed offenders. 3. Inspections may be ordered to punish certain property owners so they will walk away from their investment or sell at a low price to a developer who is connected with city officials.

Such corruption may be widespread in American cities, but it attracts little attention. Most journalists do not understand the issue. Owners of small businesses in poor neighborhoods are stereotyped by the writing class as greedy people who exploit the poor. There is no sympathy for "slumlords" or others of that ilk.

Progressive Republicans should take the lead in identifying abusive government and enacting legislation to combat it. The archives of the Minneapolis Property Rights Action Committee contains numerous documents relating to local-government abuse. Be suspicious of those who spend other people's money rather than their own and then feel superior because they "help" poor people instead of doing business with them.

(This is an area where we have differences mainly with Democrats.)

 

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