Monday, July 20, 2009

The Jam of the Uber-Gang

Continuing its push to turn Houston business owners into criminals, on Saturday the Chronicle ran an OpEd that calls for outlawing many existing signs within the city:
Visual blight seriously damages Houston's public image, impairs quality of life and impedes economic development. It's important that the business and civic community work together to ensure that Houston maintains an appealing and visually inviting environment in an economically competitive marketplace. We look forward to additional efforts by the city to improve signage in Houston.
The article claims that the "business and civic community" should work together to address the sign "problem". This would be fine, so long as it remained voluntary. But that is obviously not enough for the authors, for they want "additional efforts" from the city--they want more controls, restrictions, and prohibitions.

The fact that some people dislike signs is hardly justification to criminalize their existence. I dislike the Chronicle's vendors badgering me at street corners to buy their rag; I dislike editorials and articles that attack individual rights; I dislike elitists who believe they have a right to jam their values down my throat. But my dislikes--no matter how many people share them--do not justify the use force against those who engage in such activities.

As is common, the article makes vague claims about Houston being at an economic disadvantage because of its proliferation of signs. Cities such as Boston, Charlotte, Denver, and Los Angeles have more restrictive sign ordinances, and supposedly our economy suffers because of it.

This argument evades the actual facts. As I have noted previously, Houston led the nation in job creation in 2008. If we are at some kind of economic disadvantage, how do these statists explain this fact? Actually, they don't attempt to address it--they simply ignore it and make absurd claims. The fact of the matter is, Houston has had a huge economic advantage because of its relative respect for property rights.

A respect for property rights means that property owners have the freedom to use their property as they choose, so long as they respect the mutual rights of others. Statists don't like the choices some individuals make. They believe that if they can assemble enough like minded people then they are justified to use force against the offending parties. They believe that might makes right.

The authors of this article are members of the Quality of Life Coalition's (QLC) steering committee. The QLC's web site describes its activities:
The Quality of Life Coalition works to affect policy and encourage change in order to implement the quality of life agenda to the benefit of those living in the Houston region. We work with elected officials, private citizens, organizations and agencies to ensure adequate funding, sound planning, and appropriate implementation of the agenda items. Collectively, these endorsing organizations are able to more effectively address issues than if they attempted to do so individually.
The QLC is nothing more than an uber-gang--a coalition of gangs. Each pushes its own particular agenda, working in concert to advance their common cause--more control over the lives of Houstonians.

I could not find any definition of "quality of life" on their web site, which isn't particularly surprising. The truth is, they can't define it. Somehow we are all supposed to just know, and agree with, the meaning of the term. After all, only an ogre could possibly be opposed to "quality of life". As I previously wrote:
The truth is, “quality of life” is a matter of personal values. We each define “quality of life” differently. Some individuals prefer a spacious back yard, while some prefer no yard at all. Some prefer proximity to parks, while others prefer to live close to shopping. Some prefer a short commute, while others prefer suburban life. All of these preferences and many, many more contribute to how each individual conceives “quality of life”.
Personal values, and the freedom to pursue them, is precisely what the QLC wants to extinguish. No matter the issue, they want to force their collective values down our throats and turn the recalcitrant into criminals. This, they would have us believe, will make Houston a better city.

Gang warfare is never pretty. It doesn't become more appealing, or less immoral, just because the thugs put on a suit and tie.

No comments: