The Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal wrote “Rent control has in certain Western countries constituted, maybe, the worst example of poor planning by Governments lacking courage and vision.”
Well, the people trying to “lift the ban” on rent control are back at it with an all new idea. They have amended the Rep. Will Guzzardi (D) bill seeking to repeal the Illinois Rent Control Preemption Act. They would rather hand the decision over to “the people”.
On April 19, 2021, House Bill HB116 was amended (the full text can be found here) to allow a municipality’s voters to call a referendum to remove the ban on rent control. The proponents suggest that this is democracy in action. I’d caution those folks to review their history. America is a Republic for a reason. Our Founding Fathers had a deep and well-considered fear of a pure democracy.
In Federalist Paper #10, James Madison defined a faction as a group “united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” Madison feared that a faction in a pure democracy would have the power to act against the common good. The amendment to HB116 is a perfect example of such a threat.
The Lift the Ban folks are certainly a faction. Like science deniers, they ignore the settled economic theory that has concluded that rent control is, to put it plainly, bad.
The goal of these housing advocates seems to be the wholesale overthrow of property rights which are the foundation of Western society. Their end game? Government or quasi-government control over housing. And they’re willing to get there any way they can – in this case by allowing the many, many folks who would benefit to vote in their own self interest. Who wouldn’t vote themselves a raise at work? Who wouldn’t vote for a reduction in their taxes?
This amendment is waiting for a vote on the House floor. Landlords need to file their witness slips on this one. They need to talk to their representatives. They need more than just the building owner groups and real estate agents to fight this fight.