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Power to the Parasites: SF Bay Area Ballot Measures Will Penalize Property Owners for Undeveloped Land

The residents of Oakland, California, and other nearby Bay Area cities, are considering a ballot proposal which centers around the assignment of a $6,000 penalty per parcel to property owners whose property fails to satisfy the City’s arbitrary use standards for a period of no less than 50 days each year: the proposal applies to both developed and undeveloped properties, which equates to penalizing people for failing to build, when it is precisely the existing regulations, compliance costs and zoning laws which make it so prohibitively expensive and challenging to build in the first place. 

I know this firsthand, as I have worked closely with property owners on such developments in the housing space; the permitting and engineering fees are exorbitant for even basic projects, let alone something as considerable as homebuilding or the development of multi-unit complexes. 

As it turns out, the terms of the proposal may also prove too ambiguous to secure the desired ends or to be actionable at all, as they will reportedly make allowances for gardening, among other activities, to allow land owners to more easily satisfy that 50-days-of-use requirement. 

What's more, the cost of the relatively-diminutive tax simply pales in comparison to the existing property taxes and the perceived opportunity cost attending any sale or utility through development, which collectively means that the real costs of development serve as the principal obstacle here to the desired change. 

Essentially, this new tax will only join the already-expensive property taxes as an assault on the institutions of freedom and private property, to penalize owners who are already under pressure to offset the costs of ownership, but who apparently perceive no viable recourse through the prospect of property development. 

This amounts to insult to injury, and disproportionately so for the non-institutional investors and small property owners. 

This form of penalty also shackles property owners to the tempestuous whims of popular opinion, or realistically to those of the political juggernaut and blackmailing transients who threaten to blight and degrade the community if not coddled by the budding welfare state.

In a way, this is tantamount to extending legitimacy to the votes of parasites who wish to weigh in on how to use the host’s blood. 



This is truly the essence of Paradocracy, whereby careless and uninvested voices champion popularly-lauded measures hinged to institutions insulated from audit, passing muster in political process but failing standards of ethics and scientific or logical examination. 

In total, there will be far too many loopholes for this measure to effect any meaningful change, the proposal is unethical on the basis of persecuting (minority) land owners, and the economics are flawed by the failure to address the artificial limits on supply, the rising costs of real ownership, and the careless stimulation of demand: all else equal, this predictably amounts to higher prices and the incentivization of non-work at the expense of otherwise-accountable investment. 

This also amounts to a continued affront on private property and the freedom to be secure in one’s effects without penalty. 

If we live in a community where people are not free to leave their private property undeveloped, if those people instead face additional penalty in excess of those existing property taxes already leveled against the land, we can no longer parade around as if we live in a free society. 

What's more, these measures fail to appreciate the utility of deferred use and buffer space, both of which strike the impatient surveyor as deadweight when they exist alternatively in service to some other end. 

Finally, the last thing the Bay Area needs is higher taxes of any kind on property, where that raw monetary burden ranks among the highest in the nation. 

Don’t expect this to restrain the enthusiasm of the majority parasites, though, as the transients and the renters will take none of this into consideration when they cast their votes at the behest of their self-interest and their intellectually-dishonest consciences. 

In the end, that is the outlook of the parasite.

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