What Happens When a Lawman Sides With Renters Over Banks?

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While charming in a Sheriff-of-Nottingham-joins-Robin-Hood sense, law enforcement powers are most intolerable when they are misapplied to the detriment of property rights:

Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said Wednesday he is suspending foreclosure evictions in Cook County, which had been on track to reach a record number of evictions, many because of mortgage foreclosures.

He said many of the evictions involve renters who are paying their rent on time but are being thrown out because the landlord has fallen behind on mortgage payments.

"These mortgage companies only see pieces of paper, not people, and don't care who's in the building," Dart said. "They simply want their money and don't care who gets hurt along the way.

"On top of it all, they want taxpayers to fund their investigative work for them. We're not going to do their jobs for them anymore. We're just not going to evict innocent tenants. It stops today."

Whole thing here.

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  1. I’m honestly rather conflicted. There’s the law, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t the cutest constitutional rights violation ever. How sweet.

  2. What! A sheriff acting out of common decency? Alert Radley Balko!

  3. Sorry you don’t believe in enforcing property rights, Mike Riggs. This is quite possibly the least libertarian post on H&R this week.

  4. Reread this — some ambiguity about whether you support this non-enforcement of property rights or not, Mike. If I misconstrued your words, my apologies.

  5. I’m still confused. It’s intolerable that a sheriff won’t evict tenants who are paying their rent?

    I don’t understand why the banks would want to evict rent-paying tenants in this screwed-up housing situation, anyway. Wouldn’t it be better for the asset to be bringing in income, rather than standing derelict?

  6. Nobody could ever accuse Libertarians of being inhuman scum. Srsly. Evar.

    Or wait, did I just hear posters elevate property rights over the fortunes of *renters who are now homeless because their landlords were irresponsible cunts*?

    Your fucking human card is revoked. Get back to me when you’ve found a semblance of human dignity.

  7. I’m somewhat ambivalent too. As a renter I would be pissed if I got evicted because my landlord didn’t pay his mortgate. I would be doubly pissed because the law won’t let me sue and collect on the bankrupt landlord.

    I realize that my lease is month to month, but it sure would be nice of the bank would let me pay rent to them instead of automatically kicking me out.

  8. Nice emotional “argument”, El.

  9. The renters in question have valid year-long+ leases. A leashold interest is a property right, in the case the sherrif is recognizing that right consistent with Illinois law and common law traditions. Bank staff are acting unethically and this policy announcement is ment to discourage that.

    Libertarinism per se has nothing to do with this, but it is the best news I’ve heard out of Chicago this lifetime.

  10. I think lpcowboy has it right. The bank owns the property, but the contractual agreement between the renter and owner isn’t nullified, it’s simply transfered to the bank.

  11. Nice emotional “argument”, El.

    TAO, meet Elemenope. Elemenope, meet TAO. Elemenope has consistently shown that he misunderstands libertarianism as a form of liberalism on steroids. You’ll get used to him.

  12. LMNOP — before you get further on your moral high horse, consider that once you toss away private property rights, your society tends to go into the toilet and almost everyone suffers and is worse off. You’re the one here who, with the best of intentions, is advocating for sliding down into the socialist abyss with all the misery that creates.

    It’s not like there’s no other housing in Chicago for the renters to move to, ferchrissakes — though if the property rights aren’t enforced, there might soon be a huge shortage of rental property, as everyone rethinks creating units with insecure property rights. Now that would suck for the poor renters you purport to sympathize with.

    That being said, I’m a bit puzzled why the bank would want to evict the renters and lose the rental income, unless they can either fix up the units and increase the rental income (good) or tear the building down and put up something more profitable (also good).

  13. Wouldn’t it be better for the asset to be bringing in income, rather than standing derelict?

    Pete, the right of Private Property is sacrosanct. Better for a million to go homeless than for a single penny of Property be separated from its rightful Owner.

  14. Your charming host — I think LMNOP is educable, but has a lot of statist indoctrination to rethink. I’m gonna give him (her?) the benefit of the doubt and keep trying to explain the principles behind all this when he goes off like this.

    A lot of libertarianism is counterintuitive.

  15. I should clarify. I don’t think the bank is necessarily obliged to honor any and every lease that the owner might have agreed to. There’s got to be some cases where the lease can be nullified. But in most cases, if they are going to break the lease, they need to adhere to the usual terms. (Couple months notice, etc.).

  16. wait, why is everyone assuming that the lessor can bind the bank into a contract? He’s not their agent.

  17. I was wondering if there was going to be a post here on this. At a glance, I am surprised and dismayed at some of the posts here. But to probably reiterate what others said:

    First, in many states (at least Hawaii) if you have a lease on a place, and the owner sells, the lease remains effective until the end of the lease term, unless terminated by mutual consent. I am not sure if it applies when ‘sold’ to the bank.

    But regardless, look at the incentives here. If there is a tenant in good standing in a place, I would think it’s generally in the best interests for the bank to keep them in the house. Especially in a market where it’s tough to sell. A tenant means there’s a better chance that the place is not falling into disrepair. Plus, the bank should get some cash flow until conditions in the market improve.

  18. Didn’t read the article but if this is C(r)ook county Chicago, I assume that rent control is a given. Being a “greedy landlord” myself, I can think of one major reason why it would be in the banks’ interest to evict tenants. It is highly likely that the majority of tenants are paying substantially below market rate for their accomodations. This puts the bank at a severe disadvantage selling a foreclosure property in 2008 with tenants paying 1985 rents.

    In regards to property rights, I would suggest that the state (county etc…)has already abrogated property rights by controlling the terms of the lease agreement in regards to rent increases.

    I could go on about these tenants paying below market rents while the politicians they support make sure that no more housing is built via excessive regulation etc… but what’s the use, Joe knows better.

  19. lpcowboy: The renters in question have valid year-long+ leases. A leashold interest is a property right, in the case the sherrif is recognizing that right consistent with Illinois law and common law traditions.

    Hazel Meade: The bank owns the property, but the contractual agreement between the renter and owner isn’t nullified, it’s simply transfered to the bank.

    No, that is not true at common law and probably not under Illinois law either. In most cases the lien secured by the mortgage is senior to the lease and therefore the lease is extinguished when the senior lien holder forecloses. In the case that the lease is in place before the mortgage then the lease is senior and would remain in place, but even in this less likely case the lease almost certainly contains a subordination clause which would give the lender priority. So, in short a foreclosure by a the senior lien holder extinguishes any junior priority liens (including leases) on the property. However many, if not most, states have a law requiring a bank/new owner to give thirty days notice to vacate as long as the tenant has been paying rent (paying it to the lender/new owner upon notification of foreclosure).

    Now, as to why a bank would want to kick someone out that is paying rent, it is usually because the bank has no interest in being a landlord and wants simply to sell the property to get its money back. It is typically the case that the property is easier to sell unencumbered by a lease. At any rate if the renters contact the lender immediately upon notice and make arrangements to pay the rent to the lender they’ll get at least 30 days and in reality probably longer because the foreclosure proceedings and sale may take a long time and it is in the lender’s interest to at least be collecting rent during this time.

  20. Just to add, while I realize that the state saying that all leases must be recognized by new owners somewhat diminishes property rights (or freedom of contract), I am convinced that it is good policy with de minimus disadvantages that emanates from regulatory regimes (esp in landlord/tenant law). Any prospective owner should go into the deal with full cognizance of the encumbrance; current owners have a significantly asymmetrical power relationship to not be held to this standard when entering lease agreements (i.e of honoring the contract and ensuring successors do as well)

  21. Too much mouthing off going on here. Look at the CNN link’s fourth paragraph — the sheriff claims that the law is not being followed by the mortgage companies. Don’t know if that’s true, but I’m withholding judgment until more facts are in. Looks like the “bleeding heart” ethic is sharing space with kneejerk libertarianism in your comments section.

  22. Just to add, while I realize that the state saying that all leases must be recognized by new owners somewhat diminishes property rights (or freedom of contract), I am convinced that it is good policy with de minimus disadvantages

    So what happens when the owner facing foreclosure decides to threaten the bank with execution of a long-term lease (perhaps to a friend / family member) for a buck to make the property unsalable? What lender is going to enter into that kind of deal where they may never be able to recover the collateral free and clear based on the almost unlimited subsequent dealings of a borrower, particularly a borrower in distress? It’s one thing for a lender to agree to a nondisturbance clause in a lease to allow a particular renter to stay as long as he pays and the terms are otherwise agreeable to the lender (i.e. market rent, etc)i It’s quite another to give the borrower the power to unilaterally impose that condition on the lender for any future tenant and for any terms.

    Besides, as has been mentioned or alluded to, often the lender/new owner would like to keep a paying tenant and it may, in a dropping market, be in the renters interest to get out of an over-priced lease, who knows? These things can and are negotiated without need for some one-size-fits-all sweeping legal change.

  23. dfd-
    that’s a good point.

  24. Well, for anyone who’s visiting Reason for the first time, you now know why Libertarians have so few friends.

    You see, people aren’t really people to many Libertarians, they’re just Lego’s being shuffled around by the banking, and financial system.

    Maybe you just thought that they were a bunch of nerds, but little did you know that they self-centered, calculating assholes as well.

    Winners.

  25. “Nice emotional “argument”, El.”

    Yes, because emotions don’t have any place in human affairs. All laws are based on statistics.

    Human beings run on spreadsheets.

    How’s life as a cliche?

  26. This is precisely why people reject libertarianism. You can have such a focus on economic efficiency that you lose sight of the needs of people. The government already is engaging an extensive war on renters as admitted by the banner that appears on the top of reason.com repeatedly. Whoa to those who reject the myth of the right to property! Libertarians reject the social contract but damned humans do have a right to property! I refused to sign the social contact (I have witnesses) and I disavowed the “natural right” to property on the same day!

  27. I would be more sympathetic to the banks’ right to throw away positive cash flow on a and instead let the house sit empty and get stripped of copper if they weren’t getting a bailout paid for by that renter and their children, grandchildren, etc.

  28. “Wouldn’t it be better for the asset to be bringing in income, rather than standing derelict?”

    The banks are are going under because they do a poor job of managing their assets. A lot of the foreclosed properties around here sit empty and eventually are condemned. The banks won’t spend any money on up keep.

  29. dfd – You are right about common law, and also about Illinois law.

    bob – No rent control in Cook County that I’m aware of. In fact, rents are going up because nobody’s buying. Meanwhile, residential property values keep declining, so it’s a great time to buy and rent out multi-family housing.

  30. “This is precisely why people reject libertarianism. You can have such a focus on economic efficiency that you lose sight of the needs of people.”

    It’s not a focus on efficiency, it’s an understanding of the seen and unseen. For example, at some times, people have found it emotionally satisfying to protest and prevent banks from auctioning foreclosed farms. A good thing to do for ‘the needs of the people’? No — because if banks see that they won’t be able to foreclose and resell properties in an area, they will stop writing mortgages.

    Given the potential problems that dfd pointed out, you have to be careful how far you go in giving tenants protection in foreclosure because the unseen effect may be to make lenders unwilling to provide loans for rental properties (or only at much higher rates).

  31. Nice emotional “argument”, El.

    It was not an argument, TAO. It was an observation and a judgment.

    And I do not believe that Libertarianism is “Liberalism on Steroids” or any such crap. I do however believe that any allegiance to doctrine that blinds a person to human consequences is dangerous, no matter how “right” it seems on paper. Libertarian, meet socialist; socialist, meet libertarian.

    As others have pointed out, a lease is a property interest, and plays into the notion of a property right. By immediately jumping to the bank’s defense instead of the renter’s, even when there was a way to do so that was consistent with preserving the integrity of “property rights” as such, y’all confirm the caricature that exists of libertarianism. It turns out the picture isn’t very far from reality; you can learn a lot about people’s true beliefs by their first reactions.

  32. I don’t understand why the banks would want to evict rent-paying tenants in this screwed-up housing situation, anyway. Wouldn’t it be better for the asset to be bringing in income, rather than standing derelict?

    There is typically a rent assignment clause in an investment purchase. The issue probably results in people either renting out their home after moving because they don’t want to realize what it’s worth and think they can “wait it out,” or flat out lying on the application so they can avoid the investor premium on mortgages. You’re correct in thinking that if they got income from the renters things would be better than no income, but I suspect they don’t know it’s a renter most of the time.

  33. This is the libertarian version of “you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.”

    But remember, it’s the most humanitarian system in the world, which is why the poor and endangered love it so much.

  34. Mortgage companies are supposed to identify a building’s occupants before asking for an eviction, but sheriff’s deputies routinely find that the mortgage companies have not done so, he said.

    The the mortgage company isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, I really can’t see how the Sheriff can be forced to do their job for them. He has to know who he is evicting, and if the mortgage companies don’t tell him, how can he know he’s evicting the right people? Now, if he’s just launching a blanket cessation of executing any foreclosure evictions that’s a lot less tolerable.

  35. Damn, should say “If a mortgage company…”.

  36. “Libertarians reject the social contract but damned humans do have a right to property!”

    What “social contract” would that be?

    Where can I get a copy of it to review the specific provisions contained therein?

    Property rights are specifically ennumerated in the 5th Amendment of the Constitution.

    I don’t recall there being anything mentioned in that document about any “social contract”.

  37. wow, libertarians talking about compromising and dressing up their principles to achieve palatability. It’s almost like, like, what was the name of that thing? Oh I know – a political party…

  38. Could you guys chill on the “you libertarians” lectures for a while? Money’s tight and I can’t afford to be going to the liquor store every couple of hours.

  39. A better headline might be, “What happens when a lawman sides with the LAW over banks?”

    From the AP story, here:

    Dart said that from now on, banks will have to present his office with a court affidavit that proves the home’s occupant is either the owner or has been properly notified of the foreclosure proceedings.

    Illinois law requires that renters be notified that their residence is in foreclosure and they will be evicted in 120 days, but Dart indicated that the law has been routinely ignored.

    I didn’t see any mention of these issues in the CNN story, so I’m guessing Riggs didn’t do any research on the situation aside from the one article. I’d say from the AP’s description, this is far from a “Sheriff-of-Nottingham-joins-Robin-Hood” situation.

  40. But remember, it’s the most humanitarian system in the world, which is why the poor and endangered love it so much.

    So you believe people ALWAYS like the things that are in their best interest?

  41. Ha!

    What he believes is that he know’s what everyone else’s best interest is better than they do themselves.

  42. I refused to sign the social contact (I have witnesses) and I disavowed the “natural right” to property on the same day!

    Uh? How does that work, exactly? Nobody’s shown up at my door with a “social contract” and pen in hand, demanding that I sign on the X. Maybe the dogs kept them away. Good dogs.

    And does this mean I can have your stuff?

  43. OK, it looks like the law is on the sheriff’s side. So he’s doing the right thing.

    Still, in the absence of that law, you have to keep in mind that the renters signed a lease with a subordination clause in it, and that makes them subject to eviction upon foreclosure. Sometimes it’s going to suck to have to abide by the agreement you sign, so you should be very careful about what you sign. I don’t see how that’s a heartless position.

  44. Is it only me foreseeing a run at higher office by a guy named Thomas J. Dart?

    And Joe, for some reason those idiotic poor & endangered keep voting with their feet for the USA, despite all its many faults. Or, in the case of welfare & “free” medical care, because of them.

  45. Is Dart up for election this year or next?

  46. I don’t recall there being anything mentioned in that document about any “social contract”.

    Might it have escaped you, Gil, that the document *is* a social contract?

    You remind me of some Borges character, a man who stares at a map and screams “where is the land?!”

  47. Still, in the absence of that law, you have to keep in mind that the renters signed a lease with a subordination clause in it, and that makes them subject to eviction upon foreclosure. Sometimes it’s going to suck to have to abide by the agreement you sign, so you should be very careful about what you sign. I don’t see how that’s a heartless position.

    Question: if every rental agreement available has a subordination clause, how can you choose otherwise? You can’t very well be “careful” about what you sign if anything you could potentially sign has the objectionable clause. And it’s not like there is elastic need in having a roof over your family’s head.

  48. LMNOP, you’re really setting new records for stupidity. I suggest you turn off your computer before you embarrass yourself further.

  49. And does this mean I can have your stuff?

    You have to shoot him first, but then, sure.

    It doesn’t have to be a kill-shot, mind you. Just one that disables him so that he can’t interfere with you taking “his” stuff.

  50. E – huh? thought social contract was usually used in the Hobbes leviathan sense of the word. Maybe some cross-purposes going on here..

  51. LMNOP, you’re really setting new records for stupidity.

    Neat. I always wanted to be a winner.

  52. Well, now that it’s been established that the sheriff is simply trying to get the banks to follow the law, one resorts to arguments that he must be doing it for political gain. Nice, guys.

  53. E – huh? thought social contract was usually used in the Hobbes leviathan sense of the word. Maybe some cross-purposes going on here..

    A social contract in the Hobbes/Locke/Rousseau sense is an implied relationship. I was merely pointing out that we need not be so nebulous when talking about actual social relations, since we *have* a document that describes (fairly specifically) terms by which our society is constructed.

  54. Elemenope, you try to find a landlord who’s unlikely to be foreclosed upon. Yes, that’s a pain in the ass for a renter to figure out. As a renter myself, I acknowledge that. But the alternative is to make a system where a bank would be insane to give anyone a mortgage because it’s impossible to foreclose.

    That, in the end, is the problem with this misguided humanitarianism. You see a person suffering and try to help them, but you don’t see the unhumanitarian effects of your action down the road.

  55. You can have such a focus on economic efficiency that you lose sight of the needs of people.

    Wait a second here.

    There’s no way to write a law to allow renters to continue to occupy properties regardless of the terms of the security instrument to the landlord’s loan without wiping out the property rights of ALL mortgagees.

    A significant number of mortgages in this country are written by or owned by individuals.

    So you simply don’t get to impersonalize the mortgagee and come to me with crocodile tears for the “real, live person” [the renter] as opposed to the “mean, giant, impersonal, unreal bank”.

    Basically you are saying that if I, personally, provided a seller’s mortgage to the buyer of a property I owned free and clear, and the property goes into foreclosure, I should not be allowed to take possession of the property even though I have the senior lien on the property and even though the landlord had no right to enter into a lease that would supercede my interest.

    Why? Why is the renter a “real, live person” but not me?

    As with arguments advanced for rent control, this completely BS emotional argument relies on the premise that the renter is a real, live person – but I am not.

    Rent control argument: Renter is a real, live person. The landlord is not. The person who is willing to pay a higher rent to live in that apartment also is not.

    Eliminate eviction of renters argument: The renter is a real, live person. The person who owns the mortgage is not. The person who might buy that foreclosed upon property is not.

    Am I understanding you properly here?

    [The 120 days’ notice issue, OTOH, is a real issue. But the people jumping up to defend this sheriff’s actions don’t all appear to be doing so on procedural grounds – there are people here who appear to think that renters should have rights to a property superior to their landlord’s title to that property, and those are the people I am arguing with.]

  56. Question: if every rental agreement available has a subordination clause, how can you choose otherwise?

    You can strike the clause from the rental lease and tell the renter that that’s the only way you will sign it. If they want you as a tenant bad enough, they’ll agree.

    Otherwise, why should you not have to abide by a lawful agreement? I’m confused by your attitude here, LMNOP.

  57. A social contract in the Hobbes/Locke/Rousseau sense is an implied relationship. I was merely pointing out that we need not be so nebulous when talking about actual social relations, since we *have* a document that describes (fairly specifically) terms by which our society is constructed.

    What did I tell you about embarrassing yourself further?

  58. I guess it comes down to the argument that in some situations the implied social contract can and should over-ride an explicitly written contract when failure to do so would be massively detrimental to humanity as a whole.

    From there we can probably have a decent argument over whether or not these circumstances, as originally presented, clear that bar.

  59. Serious question, LMNOP, my man: are you currently a) drunk, b) stoned, c) both?

  60. or we can someone from the anarchic wing to undermine the SC notion entirely.

  61. Ele,

    There is an on-going and deliberate confusion between “social contract = Constitution” and “social contract” as a shorthand for “civic morality propagated by the government and its fans as a way to shame minority opinion into silence.”

    Both theories are invalid for different reasons.

    The Constitution is not a binding contract because it has been edited so many times, mostly to the express detriment of the established rights of the people, that it can long be recognized as the “contract” our ancestors signed on for. (And, besides, are you personally liable for the contracted debts occurred by your great-great-great-grandfather?)

    In the second sense, social contract is a squishy collectivist notion that you owe the state virtually everything and anything it wants should be surrendered without complaint. This what most of us mean by “statism,” the notion that we belong to the state, are its chattel, by virtue of being born here. Therefore, the second meaning of social contract is an assertion of collectivist duty not much different from “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” Also nicely summed up by house liberals growling “You can afford it.” As if that were the point.

    A lack of any formal way to either forge a new social contract (Constitution) or a recognition that we, as individuals, are not owed by the state is behind the assertion by some libertarians that a government not bound to respect minority opinion and perpetuated without meaningful consent is illegitimate.

  62. But the alternative is to make a system where a bank would be insane to give anyone a mortgage because it’s impossible to foreclose.

    Utter crap. A bank could remove title from the borrower and still take in income from the lease by taking it over from the landlord. They are under no obligation to renew the lease when it expires, so it’s not like they are on the hook *forever*, which is what you make this sound like. If a bank were truly concerned, it could make a condition of a mortgage that you couldn’t rent to a tenant. Of course, that would be a stupid condition, seeing as how tenants bring in income for the property.

    I’ve heard it brought up a couple of times on this thread that banks “would never engage in mortgages if” they weren’t able to immediately take full possession of assets upon foreclosure. This argument makes no sense, as foreclosure is primarily a leveraging against the holder of the mortgage, and *they are still losing title anyway*. Since the property is still producing income, there is less risk than the bank suddenly having a property they can’t unload because the housing economy is crap.

    That, in the end, is the problem with this misguided humanitarianism. You see a person suffering and try to help them, but you don’t see the unhumanitarian effects of your action down the road.

    It’s not that the injured third party is suffering. It’s that they are *a third party*. If some jackass over-borrowed with a mortgage, that is properly a problem between him and his lender. I do not see how him fucking up that arrangement gets us to ignore the still legal arrangement that the renter made to make use of the property, who has fulfilled on time and in good faith.

    You can strike the clause from the rental lease and tell the renter that that’s the only way you will sign it. If they want you as a tenant bad enough, they’ll agree.

    And if they don’t, you don’t have a home. Like I said, the demand for a roof over one’s head is inelastic; like food, you *need* it. The landlord holds all the leverage with his superior bargaining position. Good luck trying to negotiate clauses in that situation.

  63. cunnivore,

    So you believe people ALWAYS like the things that are in their best interest?

    Oh, come now. It’s not like libertarians lost one election after a string of victories. There’s a bit of a pattern here.

    Ha!

    What he believes is that he know’s what everyone else’s best interest is better than they do themselves.

    Says the guy who thinks that the public rejects his political beliefs whenever given the chance because they just aren’t smart enough.

  64. If tenants have a valid lease agreement, you can’t toss them out. That argument makes sense. Leases expire. Although most landlords are happy to enter into another agreement (or do a month by months lease extension) with a tenant who pays the rent on time and isn’t otherwise an undesirable tenant, they are under no moral or, IMHO, legal obligation to do so.

    “On top of it all, they want taxpayers to fund their investigative work for them. We’re not going to do their jobs for them anymore. We’re just not going to evict innocent tenants. It stops today.”

    How would the Thomas J. Dart respond to the owners of a building handling the eviction process? This includes forcible removal of the recalitrant tenents (squatters), themselves? Perhaps they could contract it out. The Black Panthers would probably be happy to enforce the banks property rights for a stipend.

    Tangentially, rent control laws are not only a violation of property owners rights, they are counterproductive to the stated aim of providing affordable housing to lower income renters.

  65. Yes, JMR, the poor and endangered sure do love them some modern, mixed-economy, post-New Deal America.

  66. It’s official, all wisdom and insight has left this thread.

  67. Yeah, we libertarians a just assholes who don’t care about people. Who’s the caricature now?

    Oh, and Chicago doesn’t have rent control except for Section 8 housing which is a federal program.

  68. “Might it have escaped you, Gil, that the document *is* a social contract?”

    No it isn’t.

    It’s a Constitution.

  69. Gil doesn’t believe in the theory of a social contract, but he does believe that the Constitution should be interpretted through the originial understanding of the drafters.

    Hookay.

  70. And if they don’t, you don’t have a home. Like I said, the demand for a roof over one’s head is inelastic; like food, you *need* it. The landlord holds all the leverage with his superior bargaining position. Good luck trying to negotiate clauses in that situation.

    Ok, dude, I am seriously waiting for you to answer my other question above because you are fucking hysterical right now.

    If you go to a renter and he doesn’t like the look of you, you “don’t have a home” either. This is a specious, emotional argument. There is no right or guarantee to a home. Yet somehow, just about everybody has one. Why is that? Because unattractive lessees work their way down the chain of desirable rentals until they hit one they are suited for. There are plenty of shitty rentals out there, waiting for shitty renters.

    You need to calm down, dude. Take a Valium or something.

  71. WGN just seems to be repeating whatever Sheriff Dart is saying, so it’s hard to get any details about the legality of it.

  72. Two words: Torch Job.

  73. According to the Sheriff, he has been trying to work with the banks on this:

    We’re asking either the state courts or Legislature to order the banks to simply conduct very basic work before requesting an eviction.

    I’ve come to this point after spending the last year trying to work with the banking industry, even asking the Legislature to pass a bill requiring them to — at a minimum — let us know if any children, disabled or senior citizens live at the home, so we can connect them with social services. That effort was killed by banking industry lobbyists.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/1211633,CST-NWS-evict09.article

  74. I guess it comes down to the argument that in some situations the implied social contract can and should over-ride an explicitly written contract when failure to do so would be massively detrimental to humanity as a whole.

    From there we can probably have a decent argument over whether or not these circumstances, as originally presented, clear that bar.

    OMFG, a reasonable person!

    Personally, I don’t believe in Social Contract theory; social contracts, implicit or explicit, are only ever aggregations of preferences and priorities of value, not active principles of law or public policy.

    I think that the Constitution does give a road-map of what some of those values might be (life, liberty, property are mentioned prominently), and certainly how we choose to prioritize given conflicting interests can be informed by such instruments.

    It is rare for there to be a situation where law so decisively comes down on the wrong side of human well-being, but they do happen. In these situations, we can worship the Law as God and act to disregard the human consequences, or move in some fashion to mitigate them. The arguments against acting for fear of unintended consequences are on point, but I think it equally dangerous to interpret law as simply a computer program to mindlessly execute.

  75. It seems to me that the bank would be better off honoring the leases, contracting someone living in the building (and paying them by knocking off part of their rent) to do upkeep on the place (or at least call them when something truly detrimental to the building occurs), letting all of the leases run out and then use it all as a PR campaign. “We’re the bank that cares.” It would probably costs them less in the end than a few shitty local commercials and the bad press.

  76. If tenants have a valid lease agreement, you can’t toss them out. That argument makes sense. Leases expire. Although most landlords are happy to enter into another agreement (or do a month by months lease extension) with a tenant who pays the rent on time and isn’t otherwise an undesirable tenant, they are under no moral or, IMHO, legal obligation to do so.

    That’s my whole point. Banks can pick up the lease (and make income from it), and are under no obligation to renew it if the worry is that they would some how be on the hook forever (which seems to be the somewhat ridiculous feeling around here). Meanwhile, the lease itself is still valid, and there are no good faith grounds for removing the tenants while the lease period is still open so long as they hold up their side of the lease.

  77. Marcvs is being mean.

    He’s making it look like people lacking information demonstated a knee-jerk reaction of siding with the wealthier party in a dispute involving property.

    but I think it equally dangerous to interpret law as simply a computer program to mindlessly execute.

    Especially when the computer catches the fact that your undergraduate degree isn’t valid because you didn’t complete a PE credit, after you wrote a letter blasting the coach who teaches it. Hoo boy, I HATE that!

  78. SugarFree,

    I’ve often wondered why banks are so eager to clear out property they can’t sell for a profit anyway, rather than at least get some income for now. Oh, and avoid angry people physically destroying the asset they’re taking over. This is true of tenant evictions and of ordinary foreclosures.

    It doesn’t seem to make sense, but their behavior in this area is so widespread, there must be an explanation.

  79. Oh, come now. It’s not like libertarians lost one election after a string of victories. There’s a bit of a pattern here.

    1994, bitch!

    In any case, I’ll take that as a “yes”. So if people always like what’s best for them, why do we have to tax people to fund the wonderful govt programs that are so darn good for society?

  80. You need to calm down, dude. Take a Valium or something.

    I’m perfectly calm.

    “You were waving a gun around…”

    Calmer than you are.

    “What the hell, Walter!”

    Calmer than you are.

  81. Paying rent on time doesn’t have a whole lot to do with whether it’s unfair that the lease is being canceled, as long as there is sufficient notice (and 120 days is really sufficient). After all, the monthly rent is for the use of the property that in that month. In other words, if I have rented the property for say, 20 months, the landlord’s foreclosure hasn’t injured me beyond having to look for a new place sooner, because I got the use of the property for that same 20 months.

  82. I think part of the problem with this post is the relative value judgement placed on the actions of law enforcement by Mike Riggs (even assuming his interpretation of the facts was correct)

    law enforcement powers are most intolerable when they are misapplied to the detriment of property rights

    How can anyone say that who has read the continued litany of law enforcement abuses reported by Radley Balko?

    Is it really true that property rights trump civil rights?

    Sure, both are important. I’m just trying to get a handle on “most intolerable.”

  83. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but their behavior in this area is so widespread, there must be an explanation.

    I believe their fear is that if they act humanely it will be interpreted as not asserting rights to the property and/or an unwillingness to evict, both of which would damage their negotiating position.

  84. If banks have to honor whatever lease was in place at the time of foreclosure…

    What’s to stop the doomed-to-foreclosure owner from signing a 10-year lease with ultra-low rent and a sublet clause with a family member, and then subletting the property afterwards so as to remain on the property?

    Oh, yeah. I’m sure no one will try that.

  85. I’m perfectly calm.

    Are you going to answer my under the influence question or not?

  86. Illinois law requires that renters be notified that their residence is in foreclosure and they will be evicted in 120 days, but Dart indicated that the law has been routinely ignored.

    I didn’t see any mention of these issues in the CNN story, so I’m guessing Riggs didn’t do any research on the situation aside from the one article. I’d say from the AP’s description, this is far from a “Sheriff-of-Nottingham-joins-Robin-Hood” situation.

    Exactly. The rest of you are reactionary fucktards. The sheriff is far from ignoring the law — he’s actually applying it.

    He says he’s evicting non-payers, but he’s holding the banks to the law of notification.

    Christ you fuckers are like the rest of the other tribes – you don’t give a shit about facts, you just want to try to win the argument.

  87. Is it really true that property rights trump civil rights?

    I think it all depends on how one understands the dependencies between life, liberty, and property.

    One line of reasoning goes: without life, one cannot have liberty or property, since a dead person has neither.

    Another: Without liberty, one is not free to act to protect one’s life or property.

    Another: Without property, one would lack the means to secure life and liberty.

    Whichever of the three dominates one’s thinking, I think, tends to decide questions like yours.

  88. Are you going to answer my under the influence question or not?

    Black tea, triple strength, with a hint of bergamot.

  89. I first read about this on FARK. My reaction to the headline was reasonably in line with Mike Riggs. However, upon reading TFA (it was an AP article there), it became clear that this was a case of conflicting legal demands, with the Sheriff deciding to err on the side of the renters WRT the question of proper notice.

    Now to put this into terms hard-core libertarians might understand, even if the new landowner has a legal right to evict, doing so by simply tossing the renter’s stuff out in the street seems to me to be violating the *renter’s* property rights by putting their stuff at risk. Remember that in this situation the renters have apparently been paying their rents properly.

    In sum, although not a legal principle, it would seem to me that the maxim of “don’t be a dick” would apply here.

  90. TPG, the problem is that the argument has shifted from this particular case to the general case — with some claiming that regardless of the 120 days law, the banks should have to honor the lease for the remainder of the term.

  91. joe,

    It doesn’t seem to make sense, but their behavior in this area is so widespread, there must be an explanation.

    Yeah, the empty foreclosed houses on our block are just silly. A bunch of the next door neighbors mow the grass and clean limbs out of the ofard just to keep it from looking like string a haunted houses. Banks can foreclose on them all they want, but it seems like a wasted money stream to let them set empty rather than sell them for a price the market will bear or contract them out to rental agency.

    Probably because property is “money in the bank” to banks and they’d rather let a bailout fix their liquidity problem rather, than you know, become liquid. I wonder if this is evidence of a bailout moral hazard.

  92. What’s to stop the doomed-to-foreclosure owner from signing a 10-year lease with ultra-low rent and a sublet clause with a family member, and then subletting the property afterwards so as to remain on the property?

    Oh, yeah. I’m sure no one will try that.

    Instruments specifically constructed to game a system of law are invalidated all the time. You think a court wouldn’t be able to see through such a scheme?

  93. “ofard” a stunning new coinage! Tired of finger breaking drudgery of typing “out of the yard” in full? It’s OFARD to the rescue!

  94. Black tea, triple strength, with a hint of bergamot.

    I hate bergamot. Fuck you, Jean-Luc!

  95. TPG, the problem is that the argument has shifted from this particular case to the general case — with some claiming that regardless of the 120 days law, the banks should have to honor the lease for the remainder of the term.

    The banks don’t even have to honor the terms of their mortgage if they don’t want to, so I doubt they have to honor the terms of a lease.

    There are states, however, where a bank or buyer is required by law to honor the terms of an existing lease, even on a property in default or foreclosure.

  96. In sum, although not a legal principle, it would seem to me that the maxim of “don’t be a dick” would apply here.

    I think you might be talking to a hostile crowd with that one.

  97. Whichever of the three dominates one’s thinking, I think, tends to decide questions like yours.

    The existence of a contractual agreement, however, can trump those rights under non-extreme situations.

    I don’t think the right to life can be contractually ceded at all.

    The right to liberty can be contractually ceded temporarily.

    Property rights, on the other hand, can be contractually ceded completely.

  98. Three points:

    1) Bergamot rocks.

    2) To the commenter who had a question: ELEMENOPE IS ALL MAN!

    3) Episiarch is a total ofard.

  99. I hate bergamot. Fuck you, Jean-Luc!

    LOL! It’s not my favorite tea, but that was what was on hand, and it “is” effective in strong preparations for getting the heart started in the morning when no coffee is available.

  100. Probably because property is “money in the bank” to banks and they’d rather let a bailout fix their liquidity problem rather, than you know, become liquid. I wonder if this is evidence of a bailout moral hazard.

    NutraSweet, I think the attitude of banks is “we are not landlords and are not in the rental business”. They don’t have the management structure or desire to manage a property. All they know how to do is loan money. So they have tunnel-vision: unload the property as soon as they can.

    “All I know is ball, and good…and rape.”

  101. In sum, although not a legal principle, it would seem to me that the maxim of “don’t be a dick” would apply here.

    There are worse things than dicks in this world. Like pussies and assholes.

  102. Says the guy who thinks that the public rejects his political beliefs whenever given the chance because they just aren’t smart enough.

    this is a hilariously dangerous road to travel if you follow the reasoning all the way down. in both directions, really. one leads to hubris, and the other to tyranny.

  103. I can think of one major reason why it would be in the banks’ interest to evict tenants. It is highly likely that the majority of tenants are paying substantially below market rate for their accomodations.

    Seems to me the bank ought to have known that before making the loan.

  104. BTW, Chicago has fairly strong lessee protection ordinances. When my landlord wanted to sell the unit that I was living in, he was required to give me 120 days from closing to move. In the end they ended up selling to another investor, so I was able to simply transfer my lease to them.

    That said, if the banks are not even notifying the lessees before eviction (I don’t know for sure, but that’s what it sounds like), that’s pretty shitty. I’m not sure if it is a contract violation (the bank didn’t sign the lease), but, with the way Cook Country works, you will most likely see new ordinances protecting lessees very soon.

  105. 1) Bergamot rocks.

    You are the equivalent of a French man with an English accent. Think about that.

    2) To the commenter who had a question: ELEMENOPE IS ALL MAN!

    Well, it’s more like 75%.

    3) Episiarch is a total ofard.

    Duh.

  106. 1) In my jurisdiction, the residential lease goes with the property. A new owner (like the bank) has to abide by the terms. I think that is the correct way to go.

    2) You’d think banks would rather earn rental income rather than have an empty house that won’t sell in this market, but they really do not want to be (and are not suited for) being in the rental business. It is easier to sell an already rented house to an investor, but harder to sell it to someone who wants to occupy the premises.

    3) “Like I said, the demand for a roof over one’s head is inelastic; like food, you *need* it. The landlord holds all the leverage with his superior bargaining position. Good luck trying to negotiate clauses in that situation.” This is completely ludicrous. The tenant can always go and live somewhere else if he does not like the terms. This is like saying a grocery store you go to can never be allowed to close, because without food you’d starve (ignoring the other 17 grocery stores in the area).

    4) The real problem comes up if someone is living in a rent controlled unit, paying far far far less than fair market value. If they have to move, they’d have to pay the real value in rent of their new place. They would not like that because it would negatively influence their ability to buy big screen TVs.

  107. So they have tunnel-vision: unload the property as soon as they can.

    But they don’t. They could sell every house on my block today if they offered them for even 2002 prices. Most of them aren’t even for sale. They’d rather let them sit empty than make a modest rather than large profit. And it’s not something they couldn’t contract out if they wanted. I really think they now that the government will step in if they have a serious liquidity problem (which they are.)

    Our current bank is one of the ones that will be bailed-out out or absorb sometime soon. We use it to keep up with on-line bill pay only.

  108. I do not see how him fucking up that arrangement gets us to ignore the still legal arrangement that the renter made to make use of the property, who has fulfilled on time and in good faith.

    Because the landlord had no right to enter into a lease that would supercede the mortgagee’s rights in the event of a default. That’s why.

    The tenant doesn’t have a “still valid legal arrangement to use the property” if the landlord defaults. That’s the whole point here.

    A landlord handing out a lease that purported to allow the renter to remain in the property even if the landlord defaulted would be just as invalid as me handing out a lease to the Brooklyn Bridge. The landlord and I are equally not legally able to offer such leases.

    A landlord with a mortgage has title to the property, and the ability to dispose of that property, only to the extent that his actions don’t conflict with the terms of the mortgage.

    If you bought a property and the seller didn’t pay off his mortgage, the bank wouldn’t be obligated to just let you live in the property, even though the seller’s action was no fault of yours. The title the seller conveyed to you would be imperfect, and you would be screwed by the seller’s action.

    The landlord never had infinite rights to lease the property to you. They were always bounded by his mortgage. So the discussion about finding a landlord who would strike the clause in the lease subordinating the tenant to the mortgagee really should be a discussion about finding a landlord without any mortgagee – because if there is a mortgage in place, the landlord can’t just “strike out” that mortgagee’s interest any more than he can sell you the property without paying the mortgage off. If he represents that he can, he’s committing fraud.

  109. Seems to me the bank ought to have known that before making the loan.

    Huh? The bank had zero role in setting the rent. That’s like letting someone housesit your place while you’re on vacation, then coming home to find he’s brought someone else over and told them they can live there for a year if they take out the garbage and do dishes…and then being told you should have known this would happen when you let someone housesit.

  110. While we can certainly be skeptical of renters who don’t read what they are signing, there is a reason that the law views adhesion contracts with skepticism. Standard form contracts have been revised by courts for 100 years or more. Despite what the purists say, not all contracts are sacrosanct. We can argue about the merit of giving renters more notice (is one month not enough? What about 3 months? 6? a year? When does it stop?), but our system requires some sense of certainty, so how do you address that?

  111. the implied social contract can and should over-ride an explicitly written contract when failure to do so would be massively detrimental to humanity as a whole.

    Wheeeeeeee!

  112. the implied social contract can and should over-ride an explicitly written contract when failure to do so would be massively detrimental to humanity as a whole.

    It’s early, but:

    drink.

  113. One thing which just zoomed right by all the “bbbbbbbut property rights!” people was the point that if the mortgage-holder didn’t want people renting out properties, they could have made THAT a requirement of the mortgage, and it’d be far, far, far more defensible both legally and ethically than this nonsense about superior lien-holders. For one thing, it’d have been a hell of a lot more obvious and aboveboard.

    But, of course, corporations can do no wrong – at least when we’re looking at them versus tenants, who as we all know, lack moral fiber or somesuch.

  114. The tenant doesn’t have a “still valid legal arrangement to use the property” if the landlord defaults. That’s the whole point here.

    If the bank still holds ultimate title, and it allows the landlord to rent out the property, could we not in some sense say that the landlord is acting as a rental agent *for the bank*? After all, if your theory is correct, how does the landlord have any right to rent, if his property interests are *entirely* superseded by the bank’s?

  115. One thing which just zoomed right by all the “bbbbbbbut property rights!” people was the point that if the mortgage-holder didn’t want people renting out properties, they could have made THAT a requirement of the mortgage

    Christ, I only said that three times.

  116. Actually, reading the comments over, I think one source of the disagreement is the fact that different people are looking at the relationships between the parties here in different ways.

    People like LMNOP who are arguing for tenants seem to think that the tenants has a general relationship to “the owner” of a property, and if the bank becomes the owner they are just stepping into the shoes of the landlord.

    But that’s not really what’s taking place.

    The lender had a relationship to the landlord, which allowed the landlord to maintain title to the property only as long as certain conditions were met, primarily that payments be kept up according to the terms of the Note. It was that defined right to the property that the landlord was delegating in his lease. When the landlord loses that right to the property due to his default, the right he was delegating to the tenant no longer exists.

    The bank isn’t jumping into the landlord’s shoes. The tenant is jumping into the landlord’s shoes. And the landlord’s shoes are hitting the bricks, unfortunately.

  117. Plus, if a landlord is losing a rented property to foreclosure, he’s an idiot. That means his rental income is so far below his costs (including mortgage payments) that he cannot make up the difference.

  118. cunnivore,

    So if people always like what’s best for them, why do we have to tax people to fund the wonderful govt programs that are so darn good for society?

    Amazing what you can do with the word “always” in an argument? It can cover up the biggest hole in your logic quite nicely.

    To anwer your question, 1) free rider problem, 2) lack of knowledge, 3) the interest of the people with the greatest resources is not necessarily alingned with the broader public interest.

  119. Elemenope: I think you might be talking to a hostile crowd with that one.

    Perhaps. I shouldn’t, but still I am regularly astounded when people and institutions insist upon the absoluteness of their rights, when a little bit of flexibility would allow them to still get what they want but also gain them tons of goodwill.

    Of course, in this case we’re not only talking about a bit of flexibility but making sure than an actual law has been complied with.

  120. After all, if your theory is correct, how does the landlord have any right to rent, if his property interests are *entirely* superseded by the bank’s?

    His right to rent is, in fact, limited.

    If you rent a property where title has been limited by, say, a private road agreement with abutters, or if a utility has a right to use part of the property according to the plot plan, you can’t tear up the private road or rip up the utility lines “because the landlord said I could”.

    The landlord can only grant you rights his title to the property says that he has. And if his title says that abutters have the right to use a shared private road, you as a tenant have to shut up and like it.

    And the mortgage is recorded against the title, just like a private road agreement or a utility variance would be.

    So the question isn’t “How does he have any right to rent the property?” but “What limits are placed on his right to rent the property by the terms of his title to that property?”

  121. Tom Paine’s Goiter FTW!

    SugarFree, I’m sorry about your street. That must really suck.

    Instruments specifically constructed to game a system of law are invalidated all the time. You think a court wouldn’t be able to see through such a scheme? Good point. Keep in mind, a foreclosure requires an action by a court anyway, so there’s already a mechanism the bank has to go through which such a problem could be addressed.

    You are the equivalent of a French man with an English accent. Oh, man. You don’t get up after that.

  122. So what happens when the owner facing foreclosure decides to threaten the bank with execution of a long-term lease (perhaps to a friend / family member) for a buck to make the property unsalable?

    This is the important point that is being overlooked.

    Foreclosure never even BEGINS until an owner is 90 days or more delinquent on the mortgage. By the time the bank realizes that foreclosure proceedings must begin on the borrower, it’s at least 4 months of rent the renters have paid to the borrower and the bank hasn’t seen a dime of it. Tack on 120 days of foreclosure notice and now it’s 8 months.

    That’s 8 months the landlord would write new leases of the kind quoted. Seems to me 120 days notice is excessive (60 days seems much more reasonable). In a market where rents are going up, if the bank can’t turn the property over quickly because of bargain leases, the property will be neglected until the leases expire. Practically a case of the law enabling the creation of slums.

    But having lived in Crook County my whole life, I’m certain the law was created for the purpose of enabling these questionable leases.

  123. One thing which just zoomed right by all the “bbbbbbbut property rights!” people was the point that if the mortgage-holder didn’t want people renting out properties, they could have made THAT a requirement of the mortgage, and it’d be far, far, far more defensible both legally and ethically than this nonsense about superior lien-holders.

    What you don’t understand is that this is exactly what the lender has done by recording their mortgage.

    They have, in fact, told the landlord, “You can’t rent out the property using a lease that supercedes our title.” That’s the whole point of this discussion.

    You’re saying that the lender should prohibit people from renting their properties at all, instead of prohibiting people from renting their properties in a way that conflicts with the bank’s security interest. Because you think that this would be more ethical.

    Why, exactly? If the lender spells out to the landlord exactly what his rights are while the mortgage exists, and the landlord goes out and makes commitments to third parties on that basis, isn’t the ethical risk here the landlord’s?

  124. One thing which just zoomed right by all the “bbbbbbbut property rights!” people was the point that if the mortgage-holder didn’t want people renting out properties, they could have made THAT a requirement of the mortgage, and it’d be far, far, far more defensible both legally and ethically than this nonsense about superior lien-holders.

    That sounds nice, but the devil’s in the details. How would such a clause be enforced? If a landlord takes out a mortgage with a no-rent clause, then rents it out anyway, how does the bank deal with this situation? Foreclose? Ah, but then they’re stuck with the tenants they didn’t want in the first place!

    So, we’re right back where we started from.

  125. I’m sorry about your street. That must really suck.

    It’s annoying, but not so annoying as my wife screaming at the paper when another goes off the market. She’s very property values uptight. I’m trying to get her into a “everything will work itself out” frame of mind, but it’s hard. I don’t imagine an out break of whooping leprosy would seriously damage our home value (compared to what we bought it for, that is…)

    Although, I would happy mow their lawns if either of my next door neighbors moved out. On the left we have an aged local sports star who hates us because we don’t give a crap about his past glories and on the right a pair of lesbians who hate my guts.

    You are the equivalent of a French man with an English accent. Oh, man. You don’t get up after that.

    I don’t worry about him. Insults from a self-admitted ofard mean nothing at all.

  126. To anwer your question, 1) free rider problem, 2) lack of knowledge, 3) the interest of the people with the greatest resources is not necessarily alingned with the broader public interest.

    (3) is a red herring, as poor people also pay taxes. (1) and (2) may be valid, but they apply just as equally to your “libertarianism is mean because poor people don’t like it!” position elucidated earlier.

    So, I’ll chill on the anti-tax rants if you chill on the libertarians-hate-poor-people rants.

  127. Maybe we should get the Grizellians to mediate the dispute we’re having in this thread.

  128. Because you think that this would be more ethical.

    Why, exactly?

    Flamingly obvious riposte: Because the bank doesn’t need the roof over its head. The renter does.

    Slightly less obvious: because corporations exist at the whim of the state, and as such are creatures of its policies. If the state detects other interests that override the corporation’s, then they are able to alter policy to compensate.

    This would be a different moral/ethical situation if both parties involved were actually accountable for the full force of their decisions. Banks, like most corporations, are made up of people that are insulated by their legally limited liability in case they fuck something up irreparably. The renter (and for that matter, the mortgage holder) has no such shield. If we were primarily talking about private mortgages, individual to individual, you’d be on steadier ground.

  129. Fluffy, they’re currently in hibernation. And since Elemenope has taken the mantle of Jean-Luc, that should be his line.

  130. If the state detects other interests that override the corporation’s, then they are able to alter policy to compensate.

    What a horrible idea, dude. It’s in the public interest for milk to cost a nickel. Any grocery corporation could be forced to sell under cost? Only an unincorporated dairy farm could sell milk at a profit?

    It could be argued you have your house because of property rights enforced by the government. Is that make it OK to bust in your house in the middle of the night?

    I know you’re are just being a contrarian, but you can not teeter so drunkenly on the precipice of a slippy slope to do so.

  131. “You’re saying that the lender should prohibit people from renting their properties at all, instead of prohibiting people from renting their properties in a way that conflicts with the bank’s security interest. Because you think that this would be more ethical.

    Why, exactly?”

    So people who do the right thing (pay their rent) aren’t thrown out onto the street.

    In the “if you don’t want the lease to survive foreclosure, write into the mortgage that they can’t rent out the property” case, the landlord willingly enters into a contract where the prohibition is obvious and above-board.

    In the tenants’ case, every single lease has the “you might get kicked out even if you pay your rent” hidden in either fine print or other contracts the average person would never see.

    Why, exactly, is this so hard for you knights of shining property-rights armor to understand?

  132. Let me know when those feet start votin’ for Mexico, Cuba, etc.

  133. VoR, you still haven’t addressed how the no-rent clause would be enforced in a way that doesn’t result in the tenant being thrown out on the street after they “did the right thing”. That’s kind of an important question.

  134. I was trying to explain to my wife why I can’t say I’m a pure libertarian. I finally figured it out by saying, there’s a small but strong streak of libertarian thought that holds there’s nothing morally or ethically wrong with your own food or wasting your own money, even if others are going hungry, because it’s yours, you own it, and that’s what is important.

  135. If the lender spells out to the landlord exactly what his rights are while the mortgage exists, and the landlord goes out and makes commitments to third parties on that basis, isn’t the ethical risk here the landlord’s?

    It would seem to me that any reasonable definition of “risk” would apply most accurately to the people being kicked out of their homes.

    Flamingly obvious riposte: Because the bank doesn’t need the roof over its head. The renter does.

    If the well-being of actual persons isn’t an important part of your ethical system, this isn’t much of a riposte.

  136. “there’s a small but strong streak of libertarian thought that holds there’s nothing morally or ethically wrong with your own food or wasting your own money, even if others are going hungry, because it’s yours, you own it, and that’s what is important.”

    and the converse to that is probably the best description of the social contract I’ve heard

    Goiter-Man:
    I had to quit drinking because of Chris Farley’s Liver

  137. SugarFree,

    I put 20% down four years ago on a boring mortgage, and I just might end up upside down for a while. Good thing I don’t have to move.

    You know, based on your description of your neighbors, it’s not immediately apparent that you live in a low-mod census tract where the Communitiy Reinvestment Act applies.

  138. there’s a small but strong streak of libertarian thought that holds there’s nothing morally or ethically wrong with your own food or wasting your own money, even if others are going hungry, because it’s yours, you own it, and that’s what is important.

    Libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a religion. It does not deal with morals or ethics; it deals with the proper role of government. That is why people of so many religious, moral, and metaphysical stripes can consistently adopt it.

    So, all libertarianism says about the situation you describe is that your food and your money should not be taken away by force. It is silent on whether you should voluntarily give it up. And of course, the situation you posit is unrealistic; money doesn’t disappear when you waste it, it continues to circulate through the economy.

  139. Libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a religion. It does not deal with morals or ethics; it deals with the proper role of government. That is why people of so many religious, moral, and metaphysical stripes can consistently adopt it.

  140. I’m glad you agree

  141. I think a better solution would be to give the tenant some recourse against the landlord, who is not upholding his end of the contract, because he is no longer providing the agreed to house for the tenant to live in.

  142. Oops — rest should be:

    Do you believe that’s true for everyone in the libertarian movement? I don’t. It should be, I agree; that’s how I describe libertarian philosophy and ideology, and I think that’s the ideal. But looking at the comments on this, and having familiarity with the libertarian movement in general, a lot of people live up to the caricature of property as the highest good, or libertine excess.

  143. Libertarianism is a political philosophy, not a religion. It does not deal with morals or ethics; it deals with the proper role of government.

    Forgive me but I believe the first sentence is rendered absurd simply by hanging around these parts for a day. And to preempt a no true scotsman, I think that the zeal of true believers is often a better exemplar of a faith than those who are lukewarm.

    The second sentence I believe incoherent, since government is the business of organizing human affairs, and there is nothing that is more entwined with ethics and morals than how power should be applied and how human beings relate to one another socially.

  144. joe,

    The lowest valued house is a little one across the street that looks like an air raid bunker and it’s property tax assessment is about 225K the last time we checked. And there’s one that sold for 700K right before the bubble popped and one that sat on the market for 1M until they got foreclosed on. 9 houses on my 24 house block have been on the market for more than two years. My hyper-competent wife just planned our house acquisition like an invasion and we got our house for a steal about 2 months before 9/11.

    20% down and headed for upside down? Jeez. Is it the neighborhood or the just the economy?

  145. I think a better solution would be to give the tenant some recourse against the landlord, who is not upholding his end of the contract, because he is no longer providing the agreed to house for the tenant to live in.

    Interesting in theory, but I think problematic in practice simply by the fact that if the landlord just got foreclosed, that’s a decent indication he isn’t exactly swimming in assets. Suing for financial redress doesn’t usually work when the guy you’re suing has no money.

  146. My question is whether the lease contract goes with the house. Certainly a landlord can sell at any time, but the new buyer must agree to the terms of the lease agreement. Is foreclosure a sufficiently different legal animal that they don’t have to honor the tenant’s valid lease?

  147. Forgive me but I believe the first sentence is rendered absurd simply by hanging around these parts for a day

    Don’t tar all of us with the same brush, LMNOP. Just because there are some people that may seem that way does not invalidate the fact that, properly considered, libertarianism is solely a political philosophy and the only moral underpinnings it has is that aggression is wrong.

  148. “VoR, you still haven’t addressed how the no-rent clause would be enforced in a way that doesn’t result in the tenant being thrown out on the street after they “did the right thing”.

    The landlord would have had to break their written contract with the bank at that point to rent – and there are already plenty of safeguards at that point in the stage (agencies that monitor landlords/tenants).

    Yes, it could still happen. But it would be a lot less likely than what’s happening now. Buyer beware is a nice theory when the risk is low and/or information readily available – but in the current property-rights-paradise we got, there’s no way for a tenant to know whether the landlord is paying their mortgage, and the consequences are pretty bad.

    bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbut property rights!

  149. The landlord would have had to break their written contract with the bank at that point to rent – and there are already plenty of safeguards at that point in the stage (agencies that monitor landlords/tenants).

    What safeguards would activate when neither the landlord nor the tenant has any reason to complain? And remember, a lanlord in danger of foreclosure is ipso facto violating the written loan contract already.

  150. cunnivore:

    “So, all libertarianism says about the situation you describe is that your food and your money should not be taken away by force. It is silent on whether you should voluntarily give it up.”

    In the most absolute and rarified form – yes. But what room, if any, do you allow for the execise of force, by society, over individual rights, for the furthering of group survival/betterment? Certainly all mature political systems – and religions – have areas in which their bedrock rules must be skirted because empirical evidence shows them to be ineffective.

  151. the only moral underpinnings it has is that aggression is wrong.

    That’s a big honkin’ moral claim to sweep under the rug. “We only believe in this teensy, weeny moral claim THAT UNDERWRITES OUR ENTIRE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY!!!” That’s a silly re-organization of the foundations of Libertarianism. Why are libertarians so loathe to cop to the fact that their ideology makes a foundational and controversial moral claim?

    I know that not everyone has the same zeal, but fealty to an ideology regardless of human consequences or evidence is often evident in discussions around here, just like in every other ideological haven. Hence my point waaaaaaay up-thread about ideological fealty on paper being dangerous, as everything works on paper but rarely so in practice.

  152. Certainly all mature political systems – and religions – have areas in which their bedrock rules must be skirted because empirical evidence shows them to be ineffective.

    ineffective in what way? the term supposes some value that is to be served by the political system. i posit that liberty is the value served by libertarianism.

  153. El – well and too-infrequently said if libertarianism is ever to become more mainstream.

  154. how does the belief that [initiation of] aggression is wrong undermine libertarianism?

  155. “ineffective in what way? the term supposes some value that is to be served by the political system. i posit that liberty is the value served by libertarianism.”

    And I rejoin that libertarianism is best served by implementation, and implementation requires recognition that a purist political philosphy is unlikely to be implemented in this country.

  156. “What safeguards would activate when neither the landlord nor the tenant has any reason to complain?”

    The same set of safeguards which activate now on normal landlord/tenant interactions – which although imperfect, are a hell of a lot better than what you advocate: screw the tenant.

    I’m a landlord. There are lots of things I have to supply the tenant, by law, and when they’re not supplied, I can get sued – or fined. Many of these things are things the tenant usually has no interest in (asbestos disclosures and the like – property is way too new to even worry about that stuff) – but I still supply them, because it’s the freakin’ law. It is not difficult to follow this to its logical conclusion unless your true interest is in just being a jackass in an attempt to defend the indefensible.

  157. So what happens when the owner facing foreclosure decides to threaten the bank with execution of a long-term lease (perhaps to a friend / family member) for a buck to make the property unsalable? What lender is going to enter into that kind of deal where they may never be able to recover the collateral free and clear based on the almost unlimited subsequent dealings of a borrower, particularly a borrower in distress? It’s one thing for a lender to agree to a nondisturbance clause in a lease to allow a particular renter to stay as long as he pays and the terms are otherwise agreeable to the lender (i.e. market rent, etc)i It’s quite another to give the borrower the power to unilaterally impose that condition on the lender for any future tenant and for any terms.

    As I said earlier, this is a good point.

    One thing which just zoomed right by all the “bbbbbbbut property rights!” people was the point that if the mortgage-holder didn’t want people renting out properties, they could have made THAT a requirement of the mortgage

    And so is this.

    A better headline might be, “What happens when a lawman sides with the LAW over banks?”

    From the AP story, here:

    Dart said that from now on, banks will have to present his office with a court affidavit that proves the home’s occupant is either the owner or has been properly notified of the foreclosure proceedings.

    Illinois law requires that renters be notified that their residence is in foreclosure and they will be evicted in 120 days, but Dart indicated that the law has been routinely ignored.

    This is the best point.

  158. The same set of safeguards which activate now on normal landlord/tenant interactions

    Which are activated when either the landlord or the tenant complains about something. Which won’t happen in the case where a landlord violates the no-rent clause of his or her mortgage. Keep in mind that not all landlords are as honorable as you, so there need to be sensible enforcement mechanisms in place.

    And you still haven’t detailed what enforcement would look like. Current enforcement practices involve punishing the landlord financially if they violate the lease, and punishing the tenant financially or thru eviction if they do so. Neither of these mechanisms seems applicable to dealing with a landlord who violates a no-rent clause in a mortgage agreement; financial punishment is not going to be effective when the landlord is already behind in payments, and foreclosure is going to force the bank to be on the hook for the lease, which the no-rent clause was supposed to avoid.

  159. “We only believe in this teensy, weeny moral claim THAT UNDERWRITES OUR ENTIRE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY!!!”

    Compared to most political philosophies, it is pretty teensy-weensy. So yes, we can point to it and say “that’s pretty much it for moral underpinnings”.

    Why are libertarians so loathe to cop to the fact that their ideology makes a foundational and controversial moral claim?

    They are? Seeing as libertarianism is often explained with the non-aggression principle, I don’t see people being loathe to talk about it. And what is controversial about this principle?

  160. Let the heretic burnings begin

  161. domo, if libertarianism won’t be implemented as is, then changing it enough to be implemented won’t implement it either, for it won’t be libertarianism that is impemented, but some other bastardized philosophy.

  162. This action was initiated because the Albany Park Community Council notified Sheriff Dart of a Romanian businessman, Mihail Stancu who:

    “bought the building, filed paperwork as if he was converting it to condominiums, then took out loans on each unit without actually making any improvements to them. In the process, he cleared more than $1 million before fleeing the country. The tenants knew nothing.”
    -MARK BROWN Sun-Times Columnist

    This scam has been repeated all over the city.

    Tenants now come home after work to realize they have been evicted (despite paying rent) and half their possessions are on the curb and the other half stolen.

    Where do “Property Rights” fall under these circumstances???

  163. Robert,

    Who evicted them without proof of notice?

  164. We don’t really disagree.

    All philosophies get bastardized upon implementation. Witness the “free market capitalism” we puportedly engage in. Or “chinese communism” – the two of which are far more similar than their monikers would suggest.

    At any rate, I favor a frog-in-the-pot approach whereby the heat is turned up too gradually for the frog to notice. I’d rather live in a mostly libertarian country with some compromised principles than in a country dominated by a shambles of socialist/populist crapola. Maybe I won’t be able to look Ayn Rand’s ghost in the eye, but I believe we would be freer for the doing.

  165. domo, if libertarianism won’t be implemented as is, then changing it enough to be implemented won’t implement it either, for it won’t be libertarianism that is impemented, but some other bastardized philosophy.

    That’s somewhat like saying “there are very few Christians on this Earth that divest of all their possessions and disclaim their families, and therefore, Christianity doesn’t exist.” (Well, Nietzsche said that, but he was making an altogether different point.)

    No plan survives contact with the enemy; likewise no theory survives contact with reality. Whatever will be implemented in the name of Libertarianism, like anything else, will be compromises and policy preferences and hierarchies of priority amongst values and claims. If those political devices ultimately serve to improve the cause of liberty for every individual in the society, would you really give a flying fuck whether or not it was based ona doctrinaire application of the NAP?

  166. Maybe I won’t be able to look Ayn Rand’s ghost in the eye, but I believe we would be freer for the doing.

    She has a far-away stare, it is true. Unsettling, to say the least.

  167. I don’t see people being loathe to talk about it.

    People are loathe to identify it as a *moral* claim. Many simply would like to assert it as an axiom, as affixed in reality as acceleration due to gravity. I think Hume would have some harsh words for those who make the implicit conflation between positive and normative claims. And if he doesn’t (cause he’s dead and his ghost is unavailable at the moment), I do. πŸ™‚

    And what is controversial about this principle?

    It is a decent principle so far as they go, but far from unassailable. I can conceive of situations where initiating force is necessary to avoid a greater evil. Think plagues, for just one example.

  168. People are loathe to identify it as a *moral* claim. Many simply would like to assert it as an axiom, as affixed in reality as acceleration due to gravity

    Yes, you are correct, some would. Not me. I fully recognize it as a moral standpoint, not an axiomatic one.

    It is a decent principle so far as they go, but far from unassailable. I can conceive of situations where initiating force is necessary to avoid a greater evil.

    True, though such situations would be incredibly rare and could conceivably be included under an Asimovian “zeroeth law” umbrella, such as “you will initiate aggression solely to prevent vastly more imminent and unavoidable initiation of aggression”.

  169. Yes, you are correct, some would. Not me. I fully recognize it as a moral standpoint, not an axiomatic one.

    But you’re one of the good ones, Epi! I thought you knew that. πŸ˜‰

    True, though such situations would be incredibly rare and could conceivably be included under an Asimovian “zeroeth law” umbrella, such as “you will initiate aggression solely to prevent vastly more imminent and unavoidable initiation of aggression”.

    An interesting notion, to be sure. However, I have a hard time conceiving of a plague spreading as “aggression” since there is no active or moral will behind the phenomena.

  170. could conceivably be included under an Asimovian “zeroeth law” umbrella, such as “you will initiate aggression solely to prevent vastly more imminent and unavoidable initiation of aggression”.

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  171. “the only moral underpinnings it has is that aggression is wrong.”

    I doubt this is remotely codifiable in a way whereby everyone in a dispute could agree on who is agressing against who. This thread is a great example: whose claim is senior? the “owner” the bank or the lessee? In any situation where resources shrink rapidly, the principal of non-agression will run smack into the law of survival instinct. Whether liberty survives depends a great deal on how principled the society remains, but also on if there is a society still left standing when the churning mobs have dispersed.

  172. Think plagues, for just one example.

    What do you mean, think plagues? If you’re referring to quarantine, property owners would voluntarily exclude those with plague from their property, eliminating the threat to them.

  173. I have a hard time conceiving of a plague spreading as “aggression” since there is no active or moral will behind the phenomena

    Zombies aren’t aggressive?!?

  174. domo, few political philosophies will fare well in a starving society, save perhaps anarchism and totalitarianism. Libertarianism isn’t alone in being vulnerable to that criticism.

  175. In any situation where resources shrink rapidly, the principal of non-agression will run smack into the law of survival instinct

    Absolutely. I’ve said multiple times before that “the only true currency is violence”, but I can rephrase that to “the only true property is violence”, too.

    I am an anarchist, after all.

  176. “…Asimovian “zeroeth law” umbrella, such as “you will initiate aggression solely to prevent vastly more imminent and unavoidable initiation of aggression.”

    At first I kinda liked that – reminds me of the Heinleinian “an armed society is a polite society” principle.

    but then it reminded me of the Bush version – you will initiate aggression solely to prevent what you can sell to your clueless constituency as a possible threat of aggression at some nebulous point in the future.

  177. It would seem to me that any reasonable definition of “risk” would apply most accurately to the people being kicked out of their homes.

    Uh, joe, try to read the whole thread.

    I was talking about the ethical risk – i.e. the risk that the action you were taking was unethical.

    And in the case we have been talking about, the party with ethical risk is the landlord. If I as the lender merely enforce my agreement with the landlord, I am at no ethical risk at all. If the fact that he hasn’t paid the loan means that innocent third parties suffer, that’s the landlord’s ethical quandary and not mine, and any guilt for the suffering of those third parties belongs absolutely, positively, 100% to the landlord and not me.

    I finally figured it out by saying, there’s a small but strong streak of libertarian thought that holds there’s nothing morally or ethically wrong with your own food or wasting your own money, even if others are going hungry, because it’s yours, you own it, and that’s what is important.

    I’ll step up into the void here left by these other cowardly libertarians and say that I endorse this 100%.

    If I own myself, and you do not own me, nothing in this statement is morally objectionable. It might be salutary for me to use my money to help you out when you’re in a bind, but it’s not obligatory. In fact, I would argue that it’s salutary precisely because it’s not obligatory.

    I own my property and my labor because I own myself. To convince me that the above statement isn’t true, you’d have to convince me that I don’t own myself, and you can’t do that. [Many have tried.]

  178. Absolutely. I’ve said multiple times before that “the only true currency is violence”, but I can rephrase that to “the only true property is violence”, too.

    I am an anarchist, after all.

    And we’re getting into territory where I actually fully agree with you. I have often said (to the chagrin of sugarless πŸ˜‰ that what are normally called “rights” are simply codifications of social priorities, and the only true “right” one has is that which they are willing to die and kill for. Everything else is a privilege granted by the largess of some other entity, which can be withdrawn by whim or circumstance.

    I once was an anarchist, and still consider it a legitimate default position. Not so useful in times of relatively stable states, though, I think. πŸ™‚

  179. “few political philosophies will fare well in a starving society”

    Your just criticism highlights that I’m given to using extreme examples – but surely it’s not a stretch to see that lesser contractions of resources produce competing claims where both parties have some justifiable reason for thinking the other party has aggressed against them. It’s exactly there that we end up having to examine prinicples under the harsh light of reality and the law/sausage making begins.

  180. What do you mean, think plagues? If you’re referring to quarantine, property owners would voluntarily exclude those with plague from their property, eliminating the threat to them.

    Are most property owners crack House-level diagnosticians or epidemiologists? I somehow doubt it. Absent that, they rely upon those who have access to such expertise to use force on their behalf to exclude the plagued from the social-interactive domain. That would be government, roughly, in case that was left unclear.

  181. Flamingly obvious riposte: Because the bank doesn’t need the roof over its head. The renter does.

    If the well-being of actual persons isn’t an important part of your ethical system, this isn’t much of a riposte.

    The well-being of the mortgagee, and the well-being of the person to whom the mortgagee ultimately sells the property, are irrelevant to you, so I guess the well-being of actual persons isn’t an important part of your ethical system, either.

  182. I have often said (to the chagrin of sugarless πŸ˜‰ that what are normally called “rights” are simply codifications of social priorities, and the only true “right” one has is that which they are willing to die and kill for.

    I would agree that a “right” is something which it would be morally permissible to use force to defend.

    Is it morally permissible to use force against a government which imprisons people for engaging in speech? Yes. Therefore there is a “right” to free speech.

    Is it morally permissible to kill someone if he doesn’t want to provide you with health care? No. Therefore there is no “right” to health care.

    I would not agree that the actual willingness to use force is required for the right to exist, because there are any number of fear or prudence related reasons why one might choose not to “kill or die” at any particular moment in time. But if you morally could, that’s sufficient to define the right.

  183. I’ll step up into the void here left by these other cowardly libertarians and say that I endorse this 100%.

    I’ll step up and say fuck you. The fact that I feel a moral obligation — one that I would not force upon anyone else — to share my own food with those in need does not make me any less of a libertarian, and it certainly doesn’t make me a coward.

  184. I would agree that a “right” is something which it would be morally permissible to use force to defend.

    That’s just passing the buck. What’s your criterion for “morally permissible to use force to defend”? Why is it OK to use force to defend speech but not health care?

  185. Fluffy:

    “I own my property and my labor because I own myself. To convince me that the above statement isn’t true, you’d have to convince me that I don’t own myself, and you can’t do that.”

    You do. And I do. So what happens when we can both justifiably claim ownership of some form of property, and neither of us can convince the other? Steel cage death match? Practical perhaps, and certainly in keeping with:

    “the only true currency is violence … the only true property is violence”

    But hardly conducive to an first world free market economy and civilized society. We are all anarchists when pushed into dire straights – but the real test of our philosophy is can it be implemented.

    You say: “And in the case we have been talking about, the party with ethical risk is the landlord.”

    That is based on the view that the property rights of the lender are senior to those of the leaseholder. I’m no lawyer, but it seems that WRT US law you are probably right. BUT – then that assumes that US law is the correct interpretation of the seniority of property rights. Maybe it is, but thats still a value judgement of which claims of “right” are more important than others – which proves my main point that messy laws are necessary to arbitrate between competing claims and some people end up losers – even in a libertarian system.

    Whew…

  186. I’ll step up and say fuck you. The fact that I feel a moral obligation — one that I would not force upon anyone else — to share my own food with those in need does not make me any less of a libertarian, and it certainly doesn’t make me a coward.

    Oh, relax, you crybaby.

    It’s pretty obvious that there ARE people here who were refraining from answering LMNOP even though their moral position had correctly been described – and I was speaking for them. If I wasn’t speaking for you, then it’s no skin off your ass and I wasn’t calling you a coward.

  187. cunnivore,

    Get off your goddamn high horse. Find a libertarian here that condemns you for being privately charitable or would prevent you from helping someone else.

    You’re not a bad libertarian for being charitable, you’re a bad libertarian for not understanding the difference between “don’t have to” and “shouldn’t.”

  188. “Which are activated when either the landlord or the tenant complains about something.”

    No. If you want to be a landlord in many jurisdictions, you have to be licensed/regulated, and, no, it’s not purely complaint-driven. And for the governmentphobes, some places even have associations of landlords which will put their seal of approval on your lease – it would not be difficult to make said seal contingent on proving the bank can’t evict your tenants in the middle of their lease.

    But, yes, I already said it wouldn’t work 100% of the time. That means we can’t do anything even though the current situation works 0% of the time? (Tenants have no way of knowing whether their landlords are paying their mortgages).

    Why am I not surprised to hear this from a self-avowed libertarian?

    The problem here, again, is that you think caveat emptor applies to a tenant who has NO WAY to know whether the landlord is paying their mortgage. Well, guess what? Why doesn’t it also apply to the fucking bank trying to foreclose at that point? Didn’t know your mortgagee had a lease? Too damn bad. Caveat emptor!

  189. I finally figured it out by saying, there’s a small but strong streak of libertarian thought that holds there’s nothing morally or ethically wrong with your own food or wasting your own money, even if others are going hungry, because it’s yours, you own it, and that’s what is important.

    I’ll step up into the void here left by these other cowardly libertarians and say that I endorse this 100%.

    If I own myself, and you do not own me, nothing in this statement is morally objectionable. It might be salutary for me to use my money to help you out when you’re in a bind, but it’s not obligatory. In fact, I would argue that it’s salutary precisely because it’s not obligatory.

    Before we get more abstract: seriously? You’re walking along holding an apple, and there’s a starving child to your left, and a can on a fence you could totally nail if the wind was with you to your right, and you see no moral difference between those options?

    Having rights means also having responsibilities and obligations (cue Spiderman). I think we would all agree that whatever those duties are (or aren’t), it is not the place of the state to force to meet them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there (which is what we disagree about).

    Maybe we disagree about what is meant by obligatory. As a sentient being, I have certain negative rights — freedom from physical harm being the most important. As a moral being, I have certain obligations — helping those who can’t help themselves, among others. (Government protects rights; it shouldn’t enforce obligations in this sense). We have ties to other people beyond purely negative ones of respecting physical, civil, and property rights.

    I own my property and my labor because I own myself. To convince me that the above statement isn’t true, you’d have to convince me that I don’t own myself, and you can’t do that. [Many have tried.]

    To put it another way, just because someone does not have the right to your help does not mean you don’t have the moral obligation to give it. If I collapsed in a field, I’d have no right to expect someone to help me, but if I came across someone in need of some kind of aid I could provide, I would feel obligated to help them.

    I believe this because of my religious and political ideas (Christian anarchism ftw), but it’s something that can be and is argued on other grounds. It’s also, obviously, not something of which the one of is going to convince the other.

    I do think, though, that “I own my property and my labor because I own myself” is the best possible underlying philosophy for governance.

  190. That’s just passing the buck. What’s your criterion for “morally permissible to use force to defend”? Why is it OK to use force to defend speech but not health care?

    Well, yes, it opens up an entire new field of moral discussion. That’s true. But the other poster was asserting that a right only exists if you actually kill someone in its name, and I was drawing a distinction between that “red in tooth and claw” view and my own.

    The short answer to your specific question: one’s moral and the other isn’t because I would happily kill a dictator, but would not be happy to kidnap a doctor. A longer description than that of why would be bigger than this thread. [In a sense, that discussion is the metacontent of every thread here.]

  191. I would not agree that the actual willingness to use force is required for the right to exist, because there are any number of fear or prudence related reasons why one might choose not to “kill or die” at any particular moment in time. But if you morally could, that’s sufficient to define the right.

    I’m honestly torn on this point, and have been for a while. I guess my gut reaction to the fear or prudence exception would be that if sufficient fear or prudential concerns exist such that you would refrain from exercising a right, then you don’t as a practical matter have that right…since you have been prevented from exercising it.

    But I’ll have to think on it some more.

  192. And we’re getting into territory where I actually fully agree with you. I have often said (to the chagrin of sugarless πŸ˜‰ that what are normally called “rights” are simply codifications of social priorities, and the only true “right” one has is that which they are willing to die and kill for.

    Ele,

    Dangerous territory again. All manner of insanity is possible by that criterion. There’s a lot of ethically reprehensible things that people will be willing to kill and die for. I’m sure we could find a fucktard that would be willing to kill Obama; does that make killing Obama a right?

    I think a right (the without a government kind that we talk about all the time) is better defined as something no reasonable person would condemn you for proportionally defending.

  193. Well, guess what? Why doesn’t it also apply to the fucking bank trying to foreclose at that point? Didn’t know your mortgagee had a lease? Too damn bad. Caveat emptor!

    Right, but matters of title are all put on public record, and if the lender goes to record with a security instrument – a contract – that puts their claim first, and the landlord signs a lease with a renter after that is done, it’s not caveat emptor for the lender any more. The renter’s claim is subordinate, in much the same way that a second mortgagee’s would be.

    The holder of a second mortgage has no way to know if their borrower is paying their first mortgage, and stands to get fucked if he doesn’t. Renters are in the same position.

  194. But hardly conducive to an first world free market economy and civilized society. We are all anarchists when pushed into dire straights – but the real test of our philosophy is can it be implemented.

    My statement merely points out that what is behind all rights and property is violence. It is the foundation.

  195. I do think, though, that “I own my property and my labor because I own myself” is the best possible underlying philosophy for governance.

    I agree with “I own myself” being a good place to start. But a person’s property and their labor is entangled with a great deal more than the self. From the machines that allow the labor to produce, to the owners of those machines and the capital they provide, to the government whose courts allow property claims to be validated and defended, to the infrastructure and educational systems that enhance the value of your labor and make it possible to transport and consume various goods.

  196. Before we get more abstract: seriously? You’re walking along holding an apple, and there’s a starving child to your left, and a can on a fence you could totally nail if the wind was with you to your right, and you see no moral difference between those options?

    Yes, I do. But I don’t consider the matter one of obligation.

    Think of it this way:

    Say you had a “Moral Stature Index” that started out at 0. When you did a praiseworthy thing, it went up by 1. When you did an immoral thing, it went down by 0. Like taking the plus/minus stat from hockey and applying it to morality.

    What I’m saying is that if at the moment you faced that choice, you were already at 0, giving the apple to the kid would bring you to 1. But not giving the apple to the kid does not put you at -1.

  197. SugarFree,

    Yes, I understand the difference between voluntary and compelled charity. Perhaps you should read my 11:27am post which was termed “cowardly” by Fluffy, apparently for suggesting that libertarianism and charity are compatible.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have responded with the F word, but Fluffy sure as hell should be more careful with accusations of cowardice too.

  198. There’s a lot of ethically reprehensible things that people will be willing to kill and die for.

    No doubt. I think I’m not being clear. I’m asserting that property:[must be defended with force] is a *necessary*, NOT *sufficient* property criterion for an object called [Right].

    What the other criteria would be so as to be sufficient AND complete, I think, is beyond the present horizons of human wisdom. We fumble forward with notions of self-ownership and social duty, and that gets us some of the way there.

    I certainly am not claiming that *anything* one kills or dies for is by that very fact a right. That would be insane.

  199. The short answer to your specific question: one’s moral and the other isn’t because I would happily kill a dictator, but would not be happy to kidnap a doctor. A longer description than that of why would be bigger than this thread.

    I’m sure it would. The point is, the pithy statement you gave is not, as you claimed, sufficient to define rights.

  200. cunnivore,

    It really seems to me, going back over it, that he was using cowardly sarcastically. But it’s between you two. If he was, I think some scare quotes would have been helpful.

  201. Perhaps you should read my 11:27am post which was termed “cowardly” by Fluffy, apparently for suggesting that libertarianism and charity are compatible.

    I wasn’t answering you. I was answering Charles.

    And it was precisely the fact that several posters, including yourself, had stepped up to tell Charles that libertarians didn’t think what he was saying, that led me to step up to serve as the example of the libertarian who WOULD defend that statement.

    “Stepping into the void” indicates that I was speaking for those who were silent. Not that who had already spoken. And I was speaking for those who silently saw no problem with Charles’ statement, but weren’t willing to say so.

    The cowardice I was discussing was the cowardice of thinking that Charles’ statement was actually OK, but being unwilling to SAY it was OK. If you didn’t think that Charles’ statement was actually OK, then by definition I wasn’t speaking for you.

    So get your panties out of a bunch.

  202. The point is, the pithy statement you gave is not, as you claimed, sufficient to define rights.

    I said that rights are defined by set “X”. That is adequate for a definition, even if it would take quite a bit of work to decide what is, and what is not, in set “X”.

    If I say, “It is a moral imperative to discharge one’s duties,” it wouldn’t be necessary to define every possible duty for that statement to be discussed in a general way. We’ll never be able to discuss any moral concept if prior to doing so we have to list every possible case.

  203. That is based on the view that the property rights of the lender are senior to those of the leaseholder.

    In a technical sense it is, but in a broader sense it’s not.

    The broader question is: If I enforce a right of mine which has been infringed by a second party, am I responsible morally for the negative effects of that enforcement on an innocent third party to whom the second party also owed a duty?

    I don’t think the answer is yes.

    The landlord had a moral obligation to his tenants. If he fails to meet that obligation [by, say, failing to pay his mortgage] then the harm caused by his action morally belongs to him. If I’m the mortgagee, and I have a right which I am seeking to enforce against the landlord, I should not be subject to moral blackmail because the landlord can’t meet his obligations to other parties.

    We put murderers in prison every day. When we do so, are we responsible if the murderer’s kids suffer, because they don’t have their dad around? I don’t think we are. We have a right to pursue justice against murderers, and if doing so means murderers can’t meet their obligations to their kids, that’s not our moral issue. It’s just more immorality ladled on top of the murderer’s record.

  204. This clarification is coming too late in the thread to affect the conversation, but at the behest of a concerned reader I’d like to point out the following:
    1.) I have a soul/conscience (I think)
    2.) I agree that banks should follow Illinois law and notify renters of evictions in the mandated time
    3.) I disagree with a moratorium on all foreclosure evictions, which was how I originally interpreted Dart’s declaration.

  205. I said that rights are defined by set “X”. That is adequate for a definition, even if it would take quite a bit of work to decide what is, and what is not, in set “X”.

    No, it’s not adequate. You can’t define one set to be equal to another set without defining the latter, if not by enumeration by a criterion for membership. That would be like me saying that a mathematical set contains “good numbers”. Do I mean that they are easily divisible, have two or fewer digits, or some other meaning of good? No one can know what I mean. It’s not just a matter of difficulty in determination, it’s a matter of the set possibly meaning different things to different people.

  206. One thing to think about is that it takes more brainpower to deal with a defaulted mortgage than to write a loan. And there are more defaults going on now than people who know how to deal with them correctly. So opportunities to make good deals with the borrower are missed, renters aren’t properly notified, … Expect to read more stories like this one.

  207. You can’t define one set to be equal to another set without defining the latter, if not by enumeration by a criterion for membership.

    I gave you a criterion for membership.

    You indicated that the criterion I set opened up its own set of questions, which I acknowledged.

  208. “Goiter-Man: I had to quit drinking because of Chris Farley’s Liver”

    The fact that the two of you feel inclined to drink in order to numb yourselves to the criticisms of the Libertarian religion, under the guise of a self-aggrandisizing drinking game, is certainly revealing.

    Also, the knee jerk responses on this topic that initially sided with a fucking bank over the basic needs of other human beings, is something else a first time viewer needs to know about a much too large portion of Libertarian group-think.

    The corporate praying that has gone on, particularly in the past 10 years, has pretty much ensured that Libertarians will be met with a stool and a dunce cap for the next, oh, I would say 50 million years. Of course, the public was warned. However, it’s easy to keep most people quiet with consumerism, and a feeling that they too can win the corporate lottery. When the shit hits the fan (and it always does), they’re left shurgging like a kid who dropped his ice cream cone. “But, I got my MBA like the Gods told me to do…”

    I can’t say I feel sorry for people who bought into large mortgages to keep up appearances, but it’s truly sad when people who are trying to scrape by have to endure this trickle down absurdity.

    Corporate flagellation is as much a pyramid scheme as government is.

    I mean, any group of people who would try to blame blatant corporate irresponsibility, and an overall lack of ethics on “Liberal” policy, isn’t going to be taken seriously by many people in America, outside other cultish offshoots like the Republican Party. It’s akin to McCain attacking Obama over Ayers. It’s a transparent, desperate plea to shift the attention away from failed policy.

    Just make God the candidate for the Libertarian party, and you have yourselves an election.

  209. A leashold interest is a property right, in the case the sherrif is recognizing that right consistent with Illinois law and common law traditions.

    Under the common law, a leasehold is subordinate to the mortgage, and upon foreclosure is rightfully extinguished along with all other subordinate interests.

    As to why a bank doesn’t want the tenants, the reasons are three-fold:

    1) the liability of being a landlord
    2) desire to recapture their capital
    3) the law prohibits banks from being in the landlording business

    I’ve often wondered why banks are so eager to clear out property they can’t sell for a profit anyway, rather than at least get some income for now.

    Reserve ratios. So long as the property remains on the books there is a charge to their reserve account of 5-10x the mortgage balance. That’s a huge amount of money to tie up without productive use. It’s better for them to take a loss now and get their capital working.

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