Last year, real estate investment group Wedgewood, Inc., bought an Oakland three-bedroom house in foreclosure for $501,000. In November, before Wedgewood could take legal possession, three homeless women and their children, calling themselves Moms 4 Housing, illegally moved in.
The squatters refuse to leave, so Wedgewood asked a California court to direct the local sheriff to evict them. The judge did so, giving them five days to leave.
An attorney helping them said, “We understand that the court’s hands are tied because in this country property fights are valued over human rights.”
One of the women, Dominque Walker, 34 and the mother of 1- and 5-year-old daughters, added, “Housing is a human right. I pay bills there. I pay water, PG&E, internet. We live there.”
So, if they claim housing is a human right, they have a right to seize someone’s property. And their lawyer posits a false distinction between sacred human rights and grubby property rights, and then falsely claims the courts value property rights over human rights.
Walker also said, “We want to purchase the home … it needs to belong back in the hands of the community.” And, “It was stolen through the foreclosure crisis.”
AP adds, the women say they moved into the house partly to protest the methods of speculators who snap up distressed homes and leave them empty despite the housing crisis. While Walker says “we” are the community and want to purchase the house, AP clarifies that they want Wedgewood to sell the property to a nonprofit land trust (that presumably would let them continue to live there).
But they moved in before Wedgewood could even take possession of the house. So, obviously Wedgewood isn’t the party that left the house empty. Lest one think perhaps the women merely chose the wrong house for their protest, Walker adds the ignorant and malicious lie that Wedgewood stole it.
Moving beyond technicalities, the real points here are the false distinction between human and property rights and the claim that property rights are wrongly favored. Plus the implication that wrapping oneself in the flag of human rights permits one to do anything and wrong anybody, especially corporations, to secure those human rights.
In this case, all one needs to do to justify seizures or other aggressive actions is claim to be a victim, even of mere misfortune, and allege the other party is culpable, even for doing reasonable and socially beneficial things like buying a house in foreclosure.
Asserting a “human right” to housing confers on someone an obligation to provide housing at that someone’s expense. That’s so obviously wrong and predatory that the kleptos and their ideologue supporters always demonize the real victims to make the theft or other aggressive action seem justified. Ergo, the lie that Wedgewood stole the house.
Perhaps the women come from a culture that taught them nothing of how the world really works: via invention, innovation, work, savings and investment, productivity, disruption and competition to get income by delivering value to employers, consumers and the public interest. And taught them nothing of the essential role of property rights in providing all human wellbeing.
Maybe in their experience things work via the kleptocracy of politics: asserted rights, demands, demonstrations, coercion, legislation, regulation, litigation, etc.
Thus, they wouldn’t know that the real causes of unaffordable housing and so many other California problems are the entitlements, land-use and related regulations, high taxes and transfer payments, green dogma, etc. fostered by the politics of them and their advocates.
But what’s the excuse for AP writers and editors and mainstream media generally?
They should recognize the slimy ethical and vacuous intellectual basis of these claims do not merit coverage. They should be researching and producing stories that educate more people on how the world really works and the problems caused by progressive policies.
But that’s too hard. Instead, because such stories are easy to produce, and because they want to signal their compassion and other virtues, they crank out advocacy dreck for such people.
And they whine when they’re rightly called the fake news.
Ron Knecht has served the people of Nevada as state controller, a higher education regent, economist, college teacher and legislator. Contact him at RonKnechtaool.com.