Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

Property Laws are Callous, Bureaucratic

Letter to the Editor published in the Post-Star, Glens Falls, N.Y.
July 24, 2003


It never ceases to amaze me how bureaucrats abuse their power. Thanks to the Post Star on July 16, the general public was made aware that, after citing a woman for not keeping her house painted, the Hudson Falls building inspector then took on the job of hiring a subcontractor to paint the house.

However, I should have been prepared for this callousness, having watched for a number of years as high-minded local officials passed laws requiring that property owners keep their houses and grounds to standards set by the government officials, not the least of which is the requirement to keep the houses painted according to such standards.

These laws are themselves callous. It seems obvious that people generally keep their property up rather pridefully unless economic or personal circumstances interfere with this. When I first read of a painting maintenance law, I immediately thought of the many women that I noticed in the community where I grew up, who as they lost their husbands often had a somewhat weedy yard or a house in need of paint. Unless a woman is endowed into her old age, she will find herself burdened with the cost of tasks that her husband used to do. Sometimes, both husband and wife will be alive, but the husband will lack the physical stamina to do the tasks that were easy during his youth.

At the same time, the woman, or the couple, will be subsisting on a lower income than in the past, and have even less cash available to hire a painter than in the days when they could handle the job without hiring.

So, when I read the tale of the building inspector who cited the woman for not painting her house, it hit home even without the conflict of interest. How can town officials be so callous to pass such laws? The building inspector's callousness about the law, or conflict of interest, is in line with the callousness of town officials who single out the unfortunate or elderly, especially lone women, for harsh law enforcement.

Property Rights Foundation of America
Stony Creek


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