Mayor Hancock’s Dangerous March toward Rent Control

Published in the Denver Post July 27th, 2018

Approved by the Libertarian Party of Colorado

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s vision for Denver — as painted in his State of the City speech this month — is a city that protects those in the lower income brackets against gentrification.

This is to be realized through the creation of a new task force named NEST, the Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team. It is a very pretty picture, one that few would argue against; we are all people and people generally want to see others succeed and prosper.

The Libertarian party of Colorado believes in the goodness of our fellow man; to this end we reject governmental interference in free trade among the people. It is private industry that will assist those in communities that are being redeveloped, and it is private industry that will protect and enrich those in lower income neighborhoods.

The idea that private industry can provide further and better services than government should be more relevant this year than many others. Far from being the profit-hoarding evil conglomerates that some people believe they are, private companies have dedicated themselves to fixing roads, providing clean water, and possibly reducing single use plastic. What we are seeing is the power of the free market. When government does not work to secure the general welfare of its citizens, those with the means to do so will fight to secure the general welfare of their fellow man. This is precisely the spirit that dwells within Libertarians.

“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst, an intolerable one” wrote Thomas Paine in his pamphlet Common Sense, setting out the reasons for American independence in 1776.

We owe our freedom, our ideals, and our country to men like Thomas Paine, who saw the true nature of government. Mayor Hancock has put forth goals for the city which are well intentioned but have no business in a free society. We believe that government will always tend toward intolerable evil. Even in the noble pursuit of slowing gentrification, there is an opportunity for men like Councilman Paul Lopez to use the framework of NEST to bring more power to the city, i.e. rent control.

The consequence of Paul Lopez’s desire for rent control will be perpetual poverty for the families that are currently living in low-income neighborhoods, while simultaneously driving away any diversity that may be brought through increased business and residents. One need only look at neighborhoods in New York for evidence of this fact.

One of the planks of the Libertarian Party says “Property owners should be free to control and enjoy the property that they own…”

The ability to control property that you own is one of the cornerstones of our nation. Before our founding, the government could force you to house and feed members of the military; we demanded that this complete overreach of government must never happen in the United States. Paul Lopez wants Hancock to sign legislation authorizing rent control, placing government officials, just like soldiers, in charge of private land. Imagine owning a home in Five Points and being unable to finally enrich your family because the city will not allow you to charge a fair and equitable rent, simply because your home is in an historically poor neighborhood. The only difference between quartering soldiers, and rent control, is which part of the government is in your home.

People who think like Councilman Paul Lopez are short-sighted who merely give a man a fish to feed him for a day. Libertarians are dedicated to ensuring that the God-given right to free commerce is not infringed upon by men who wield the power of government — to teaching men to fish so they may feed themselves for life. Those in power will always want more; the power that they hold over the people must be restrained. Government needs to be restricted to the most basic functions if we, the people, are to maintain our autonomy.

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