Most people seem to agree that government coercion should be used to promote the "general welfare." Since this term is undefined and undefinable, I have decided to quit trying to convince Houstonians otherwise and use it to my advantage.
If a noisy gang can petition city hall to stop the Ashby High Rise, or prohibit the demolition of "historic" buildings, or outlaw "attention-getting devices," or prohibit parking in one's own yard, then why can't I assemble my own noisy gang to do likewise? Well I can, and I have a cause that will promote the "general welfare."
It has come to my attention that new home construction has slowed considerably. As a result, thousands of construction workers are unemployed. And paint stores, among others, are also suffering. So I propose that city hall mandate that all Houstonians must paint their home at least once every two years. This will employ thousands of workers and be a gold mine for the paint stores. Of course, my company will also benefit, but I do not have my own welfare in mind when I make this proposal. I am thinking of the "greater good," just like the engineers behind Renew Houston.
I think it would be rather easy to assemble thousands of unemployed construction workers to march on city hall. After all, they aren't doing anything else. I suspect that council members would be moved by their stories of hardship, not to mention the sea of butt cracks.
I also think that city hall should do more than simply force home owners to paint. I think that the city should establish a Color Commission to determine which paint colors will be acceptable in each neighborhood. If it is appropriate to tell property owners how they may use their property, then it surely must be appropriate to tell them what color is acceptable.
I personally get tired of driving through neighborhoods where the houses have almost identical colors. Many Houstonians are simply not very daring when it comes to picking paint colors, and I think that it is high time for city council to force them out of their staid conservatism. I think it would be really cool if at least one house on every street was painted Sassy Green.
I will admit that my long-term goal is to have this mandate extended to interior painting as well. That would create even more jobs. But like the preservationists and the anti-billboard crowd, I will be satisfied to get my foot in the door. In about 15 years I will go back to city council, argue that the ordinance simply isn't strong enough, and demand a tougher ordinance.
I should add that the ordinance must prohibit home owners from doing their own painting. That simply wouldn't be right, as it would do nothing to employ construction workers. I am sure that many will whine about their "rights" and claim that they should be able to do what they want with their property. But there is a bigger issue at stake here--the "general welfare"--and they should be willing to sacrifice for the "greater good." If they aren't eager to do their "fair share," they can think about their transgressions while they rot in jail.
If my proposal strikes you as silly, then consider the "principles" that underlie it. Do you regard it as proper for a small gang to demand laws that control and restrict the actions of others? Do you believe that the individual should be forced to sacrifice for the "common good"? Do you believe that government force should be used to stop the voluntary actions of consenting adults? Those are the "principles" that underlie my proposal. Those are the "principles" that most Houstonians accept.