My Day With the Housing Inspector

“If some bum who doesn't belong on your property happens to fall down these stairs and hurt himself, he could sue you and he could sue the city.” The housing inspector was referring, of course, to the old stairwell leading down to the walkout basement at the scholarship house for which I handle summer maintenance responsibilities.

The success of any inspection must simply depend on how favorably the inspector gods are looking upon you that day and, like for all bureaucrats, how much you are able to convince the person that they are doing the right thing by stealing your money. I told her that for the last thirty years there had not been a railing in that stairwell and, since no one ever uses those stairs, there is absolutely no need for one. Apparently the last guy who used to come to our house every two and a half years and nit-pick about doors not latching properly and dents in the wall thought the same thing. Well, I guess this lady was different.

Our new housing inspector said that she “debated whether or not to make us install the railing." According to her, it was real close, almost 50/50. And what do you know, she erred on the side of forcing us by threat of violence to go ahead and do something that we would otherwise not have done, to the tune of about $400. Also, she made us trim a few trees back away from the house and have the fire alarm “certified by a professional.” There went another $2000 down the drain. Considering that it was not her money, I suppose she could have spent it as freely as she would have liked.

After she had inspected the entire house and pointed out every minor flaw, she was "kind" enough to write us up for only eight violations instead of the actual twelve. She said to me, “You're lucky I am feeling generous today. Isn't that nice of me?”

Enraged that she would dare to think that she was doing me any sort of favor, I answered, “No, you are not nice at all. You coming into my house and forcing me at gunpoint to fix things that I did not deem necessary to repair is a violation of my fundamental property rights. If someone wants to trespass on our property and hurt themselves by falling down our stairs, then they are welcome to do so, but why should we be held responsible?! Considering this house is going to be bulldozed in less than a year, does it really make any sense for us to fix these things? I have had enough of power-hungry, wasteful people like you enumerating worthless commandments from the state and raping the truly productive members of society. Now, why don't you march back down to city hall with your other little morons and figure out some other ways to con the public into thinking that they will be safer by letting you steal from them. Next time, for the sake of expediency, just punch me in the face, take all of my money, and go on your merry little way, you stupid bureaucrat!”

OK…so I didn't really say that, but I wanted to. And I can tell you that the only reason I didn't let loose is because she would have decided to be even stricter with the building code and stolen even more money from our organization. Since she, as an agent of the state, has ultimate control over the enforcement of its policies, I was bullied into being cordial toward her and smiling while she trampled on my freedoms. Hence, when she told me that I was “lucky” she was feeling generous that day, I zipped my lips, but I thought to myself sarcastically, “Yeah, about as lucky as a blind, deaf quadriplegic.”

The sad message of this story is that it is typical of the way in which people are forced to deal with government agencies like the IRS, airport security, and local police. Since bureaucrats have the threat of violence backing their every whim, citizens and taxpayers are victims of extortion, allowing themselves to be pushed around by the tyrannical, dysfunctional crime family that is the modern state.

Some would say that her crime is totally justified. After all, they say they are doing it to protect us from our own ignorance. Since protection is supposed the constitutional basis for our democracy, whatever the state does to “protect” us must be moral, right? It must be that we cannot be trusted to do anything ourselves. I guess she and the city bureaucracy know best. Thanks government, thanks for existing unjustly and telling me exactly how to manage every little aspect of my life. I was really getting tired of running my own show.

August 14, 2003