Mar 30, 2021 • 52M

Escaping the Statrix: Trevor Burrus's Rent Control Red Pill

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Bob Zadek
Bob talks about the issues that affect our lives on a daily basis from a purely libertarian standpoint. He believes in small government, fewer taxes, and greater personal freedom.<br /><br />America has lost its way, but it cannot and does not need to be reinvented. Our founders were correct about their approach to government, as were John Locke, Adam Smith and the other great political philosophers who influenced them. The country’s first principles are economic and social freedom, republicanism, the rule of law, and liberty. Bob believes we must take the best of our founding principles and work from them because a country without principles is just a landmass.
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Is a more prosperous world with less government intervention possible? Trevor Burrus of The Cato Institute joins me this Sunday to discuss the constitutionality of rent control and the related issue of expanding the "libertarian imagination,” in a world filled with statist dreamers.

Bernie Sanders is obsessed with a vision of a national rent control policy, complete with a “Renter’s Bill of Rights.” However, this imaginary bill of rights couldn’t exist without violating the original bill of rights - in particular, the Fifth Amendment’s “takings clause,” which guarantees that private land cannot be taken for public use without “just compensation.”

Burrus, a senior fellow at Cato’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies and editor‐in‐chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review, has helped file a friend-of-the-court brief in defense of NYC landlords whose rights have been violated by a new set of “rent stabilization laws.” Burrus notes that “The right to exclude people from occupying your property is obviously central to the concept of ‘property.’”

Among other illegal “takings” embedded in the law, the latest rent control push forces owners to transfer a lease from the original renter to their relatives. Advocates will argue that rent control helps the poor afford housing in areas where they otherwise couldn’t live. However, 93% of economists already agree that rent control hurts the very people it’s trying to help by restricting the supply, and decreasing the quality of the rentals on the market.

We might consider shifting our focus from doing more studies on rent control to trying to win hearts and minds. This Sunday, Burrus helped me imagine what city life could be like in New York if property owners were free to set rents at the market rate, and developers were allowed to build new real estate to meet the resulting demand. If you take the red pill, you’ll never look at our cities or government the same way again.