Friday, August 14, 2015

The Switching Costs of Petty Tyranny Avoidance

Via Nick the G & Paolo The Wifehunter, a purulent little saga of petit neighborhood despotism. The short version: family puts up a playground for the kids. Playground is purple, so as to match the hue of the autumn foliage. HOA declares it an eyesore, threatens family with jail time (seriously?).
OK, by now all good libertarians are readying a logical and somewhat-convincing response to the Stout's troubles: You can just move. You agreed to live under the authoritah of the HOA when you moved into the neighborhood. So shaddup already.
There's more than a little truth to all that, but as Ekdahl wrote on Twitter in response to just that sort of response, "The 'rules' in this case are very vague and don't justify jail time." Things get even cloudier given that the Stouts apparently successfully appealed fines related to the construction of the swingset.
What would Coase say?

I suspect he wouldn't say "shaddup already." I suspect he'd acknowledge that part of the tacit package of rights when you buy into the governance of an HOA includes not being niggled and harassed by two-bit tinpot bullies who would be a caricature even in Kafka at his most Kafkaesque. I agree with the standard economic view that you can put a price premium (discount) on just about anything, including exceptionally nosy neighbors, I also agree that the many emanations and penumbras of too much discretion in the hands of uptight HOA directors is, effectively if not legally, an uncompensated takings.

And seriously, jail time? Are they even for real with that crap? It's a good thing our actual elected officials in the many legislatures of the land have better sense than to misuse the criminal code do flagrantly. Right?

Purple playgrounds: super non-euvoluntary, you guys. Totes magotes.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Tacky Swingset R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?