(This post is a part of my platform for my virtual campaign for the Mayor of Houston. You can read my announcement here and my statement of principles here.)
At a time when Houston and the nation are experiencing a recession and seemingly endless job losses, city government has taken actions to further decrease jobs in Houston by enacting arbitrary restrictions on businesses and individuals.
For example, in 2008 City Council imposed new standards on mobile food vendors that will undoubtedly drive many out of business. City Council also outlawed “attention-getting devices”, a move that will decrease jobs in the signage industry. City Council has, for all intents and purposes, declared its intention to eliminate the billboard industry in Houston, and with it thousands of jobs. These are just a few examples of government intervention in the marketplace that costs the city jobs, interventions which my opponents have supported.
All of these actions ultimately increase costs to consumers, decrease the options and choices available, and violate the rights of Houstonians. These interventions cost Houstonians hundreds of millions of dollars each year, through taxes, permitting and licensing fees, and decreased economic opportunities.
While Houston has historically shown a greater respect for individual rights than other cities, in recent decades the city has increasingly sought to place controls on individuals and businesses. The relative freedom Houstonians have enjoyed has resulted in many economic benefits—a lower cost of living than other major cities, more affordable housing, and consistent job growth. But increased controls will reverse these benefits. Increased controls will increase the cost of housing and destroy jobs.
More significantly, increased controls represent a violation of the rights of individuals. Each individual has a moral right to take the actions necessary to sustain and enjoy his life, so long as he respects the mutual rights of others. Each individual has a moral right to choose his values and the actions necessary to achieve them. Each individual has a moral right to act without intervention from others.
The proper purpose of government is the protection of individual rights—the freedom to act without intervention. Government has no moral authority to intervene in the marketplace, to impose regulations on businesses, or to prohibit voluntary interactions between adults.
A vibrant economy cannot exist without the recognition and defense of individual rights, including property rights. If Houston is to have a growing economy, we must vigorously defend the right of property owners to act in the pursuit of their values according to their own judgment. My administration will recognize and defend the rights of all individuals. We will repeal regulations that violate individual rights—any ordinance that involves the initiation of force. This will reduce the costs to businesses, and in turn save Houstonians millions of dollars. We will eliminate arbitrary barriers to starting and operating a business. We will reduce taxes.
We will ask government to do less—much less. And this provides opportunities for private citizens to do more with their lives—much more. We will privatize improper government services. We will sell government assets that are not required for legitimate government functions. We will reduce the size and scope of government, and in doing so, increase individual freedom. When government takes less from its citizens, they have more of their own money to pursue the values that they need and desire. And in the end, that creates a vibrant economy.
These are not vague promises. These are concrete steps that we will take. They will have practical consequences that will benefit all Houstonians, and more importantly, they will recognize the moral right of each individual to his own life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness.
Friday: Protecting Neighborhoods