Sunday, August 25, 2013

Who's right here?

WiscoDave sent me the link to the story about the little 4-year-old girl's garden being threatened by the USDA. I read the whole thing, anger and disbelief, then read it again. There are so many layers here, it's starting to look like a really fucked up wedding cake.

First, Mary and her disabled mom live in government subsidized housing. The sentence from the post that really got me was this (emphasis mine):

"The USDA pays most of the rent for Mary and thousands of citizens like her around the United States."

The USDA cuts the check, but the funds come from us, the American taxpayers.

Then there was this (emphasis all the author's):

"The Federal bureaucracy seems to think that it owns those individuals who receive any sort of government assistance and that their behavior is completely within its jurisdiction to control no matter how ridiculous or blatantly un-American the power-tripping “rules” they decide to put in place may be."

Playing the SSI game, I'm beginning to realize the absolute truth of this. Once a citizen accepts government largess, the government assumes that it can override the citizen's rights. Kind of like buying a girl a $200 dinner and expecting her to dance nekkid for the rest of her life.

And then the third layer of this shit cake is the property management firm that is the actual entity demanding the destruction of Mary's garden; the USDA is maintaining it has no rules against gardens, nor is it standing up for Mary. This sentence gets my Libertarian panties in a twist (emphasis mine):

"It (USDA) should do the right thing and insist that property owners and managers of subsidized housing permit residents to grow their own food in well cared for gardens rather than look the other way when residents are bullied for their efforts at self sufficiency."

Insist?! This is privately owned property rented out to individuals and paid for by the tax money disbursed by the US government. As a Libertarian, I will always side with the individual over the government. The property owners have a right to say what they will and will not accept on their property. If they don't want little gardens all over the place, that is their right. They bought the land, developed it, and are managing it for a profit. Now that being said, that doesn't make their demands any less boneheaded or heartless. Sometimes, liberty means you're free to be a boneheaded asshole. As long as the property is maintained by the owners for the health and safety of the residents who pay to live there (not a slum or hazard), they can decide how the landscape is to be maintained.

It is common sense to not only allow, but encourage those dependent on the government (us) for housing and food to grow their own veggies. It's a healthy addition to their diets and it gives them a sense of pride and purpose, providing their own sustenance. I love that a small 4-year-old girl sees this as a worthy endeavor when other kids are busy watching tv and playing video games. I would love to help and encourage her any way possible. I think, while the property management firm is well within it's rights as a private landowner to choose how their land is used, it's a heartless short-sighted move. I hope they can search their hearts and come to a more compassionate decision, perhaps setting aside part of the commons area for a community garden. Or setting standards for having individual gardens. And as for the government's involvement in this whole situation? I will always advocate for smaller, less intrusive government. If ours hadn't grown to the unholy behemoth of soulless bad decisions that it is, we wouldn't have to worry about their involvement in individuals' lives.

So that's Angel's Sunday Sermon. Peace be with you.


RabidAlien said...

My guess is someone did a half-assed Google search and found out that marijuana can be grown at home in private gardens. A quick set of random inspections (with gardener present, done by someone who actually knows the difference between maryjane and a carrot) would eliminate that threat. Unless, of course, the property owners have some other invested reason to not want their tenants to eat healthy...perhaps a cousin who owns the McDonalds down the street?

Mark P said...

This is more complicated than it might appear. Many jurisdictions have laws that make it almost impossible to evict tenants, who have growing crops, until their crops are harvested. This is usually applied to leased/rented farmland to prevent a landowner from evicting a tenant farmer just before harvest and keeping the crop for themselves. However, residential tenants also use these laws to prevent otherwise lawful evictions. It sounds harsh in these circumstances, but if the property manager didn't do this they could be liable to the landowner if the tenant/USDA stopped paying rent, and they couldn't evict the tenants. Remember the old adage "The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions."

Brock Townsend said...

Thank you, Angel.:)

hiswiserangel said...

Um, you're welcome?

AndyN said...

I'm certainly not a Libertarian in good standing, but I really don't think there's a purely libertarian case for sympathy here. If you want to avoid being burdened by senseless USDA rules, don't go to the USDA with your hand out. Nobody should be surprised that government checks come with strings attached. That would apply to the renter if this really was a USDA policy, and it certainly applies to the property owner, who would have a much harder time filling their apartments if they weren't getting paid by the government. If they don't want the USDA insisting that they change their rules to accommodate their subsidized tenants, they can upgrade their property so it's appealing enough that people spending their own money will want to live there.