Agenda 21 and Obsessions Over Home Value
Written By: Travis Buhler | Posted: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
A reader recently asked me for some practical ways to overturn certain zoning laws in his local township. After disclosing my lack of victories in this area, I explained that one cannot win this battle merely by showing residents the sinister worldwide plans of the U.N.'s Agenda 21. The battle is against the hearts of the property owners who want laws and actions that violate their own property rights.
Why is this? The answer is in people's obsession over the value of their homes.
Month's ago I had another conversation with a liberty-minded activist over the growth of the sand mining industry here in Western Wisconsin. We put aside the possible health risks and potentially real property damage that some claim may happen and argued over the issue of falling home values. His claim was that because the value of surrounding properties would go down in the immediate area around a sand mine causing, in his opinion, real damage to his property, those neighbors ought to have some sort of say over what is to be built near them.
Oftentimes this is the underlying or even open reason behind zoning laws and other activities that violate basic property rights. There is a reason it is sometimes not mentioned openly. If a home owner wants to treat his property as an investment, he must accept the risks that come with any investment. Name any other investment where it is acceptable to use government force on other people's activities in order to protect its general value. In fact, it can be argued that to forbid someone from doing something on his property because it may place risk on the value of your investment is a deliberate devaluing of your neighbor's own investment. For these reasons, many neighbors don't bring up the issue of property value and say zoning laws are for the purpose of personal and environmental health and safety and to prevent possible damage to other's properties.
But nevertheless, concern over property values is there. It was a scary moment four years ago when many Americans saw that a home once worth $300,000 is now selling for only $150,000. The panic resulting from that naturally makes people worried over anything else that may lower the value of their home.
Where did this obsession come from? The idea that a house is an investment is relatively new. While no one ever wants to sell their property for less than what they paid for it, prior to the mid-twentieth century, most people saw their property more as a money-making tool rather than as an investment. They would farm it, or build a store there, or build a shop for their trade. Property was a means to create value along with the basic need for a family dwelling.
Then along came home mortgages. As more people borrowed money for their homes, keeping their value higher than the loan's worth became a real problem.
The second factor is inflation caused by the Federal Reserve. As this devalues paper money, people are forced to invest in something that retains value. Their home became a natural choice for this.
The third factor is the modern business structure where most people work in the industrial or commercial districts of cities and very few people work out of their homes. There is little financial incentive to use your home to generate income which results in a focus on mere value retention.
Home owners are not the only ones obsessed over property value. Because municipalities' primary revenue comes from a value based property tax, it is a priority to do what they can to retain or increase the overall value of properties. Also, because many city councils have taken it upon themselves to be the ones responsible for making the city an attractive place to do business in, they will enact laws that compel property owners to focus on the value rather than the usefulness of their land.
The results of this are the property laws we have today. Whether it is zoning laws, homeowner associations, and laws preventing business and other activities, they all stem from a popular desire to do what it takes to keep the values of properties growing. This has resulted in home businesses being shut down, home bible studies being stopped, excessive laws about lawn upkeep and exterior maintenance, laws forbidding certain types of dwellings, and the prevention of certain industrial projects like sand mining. They have also resulted in city governments using eminent domain to steal property in poor neighborhoods as a perverted means to fight poverty in a city.
These violations of our property rights are there because the voters want them there. I am not denying the role of Agenda 21 and the sustainable development movement. But the reason this internationalist and environmentalist movement is able to gain a foothold in our local municipalities is because it has used the worry over home values as a tool. In order to eliminate these violations, we must overcome the largest hurdle; the obsession over retaining property value.
Travis Buhler is the Editor of the US Journal and the Eau Claire Journal. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.