Sunday, September 6, 2020

How Can the CDC Impose a Moratorium on Evictions?

The first I heard about this was in a comment last Tuesday night by Divemedic to my post on Property Rights.  A little earlier, he had put up a post on his own blog on the subject.  (You do read him, don't you?)

President Trump's CDC today issued an order that prevents landlords from evicting tenants from residential property, as long as the renter makes less than $99,000 a year. The order states that the tenant is still required to pay rent. Well, if I can't evict them, just how am I going to do that?

The CDC's order went into effect on Wednesday and will remain in effect for the rest of the year.  The subject has naturally triggered a lot of reaction from those of us who want a smaller government and has been written about in a variety of places, such as Reason and the Foundation for Economic Education, FEE.  

Under what power does the CDC; the Centers for Disease Control, have any control over the living arrangements of anyone in the country?  Renters sign a lease with the landlord and agree to pay rent when it's due.  In many cases, like Divemedic's, the landlord is just another small business, not some faceless multinational corporation that can absorb losses for a long time.  The landlord has to pay his expenses on the rental property, typically a mortgage and property taxes.  So the bank is going to demand on time payment from the landlord who is going to either pay out of pocket or lose the property.  The bank likewise has some real expenses due to its written loans, too.  Why is it OK to support the renter but not care if everyone else in the chain loses money?

For legal justification, the Trump administration cites one vague law that says during a pandemic the CDC director “may take such measures to prevent such spread of the diseases as he/she deems reasonably necessary, including inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, and destruction of animals or articles believed to be sources of infection.”
“All of these measures are localized, and limited to prevent the spread of an infection in a single building or location,” wrote constitutional law professor and Cato Institute scholar Josh Blackman. “None of these examples are even remotely close to a nationwide moratorium on evictions. This action is far beyond the scope of delegated authority.”

I don't see a single word, let alone phrase, in that quote from the law that applies here.  Those renters aren't spreading any disease, and being unable to pay rent because their job ceased to exist doesn't sound anything like, “inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, and destruction of animals or articles...”

Rep. Thomas Massie, a libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican, said, “[this is] transferring control of private property from the lawful owner to the renter, [and] is possibly the most socialist action our government has taken in decades” and “The CDC order is an affront to the rule of law, and an emasculation of every legislator in this country - state and federal.”  Massie is joined by fellow Kentucky Republican, Senator Rand Paul, who added, “CDC does not have the authority to do this.  It's dangerous precedent and bad policy.”

The, with their shutdown orders, have trashed the lives of millions of Americans as they trashed jobs and entire businesses.  I've even heard libertarians say that in a situation like this the is responsible for harming those people and should essentially pay people damages to offset the harm they've done.  The fact they can't arrange the money to pay those damages is a sign of the dysfunctionality of the government.  In March, they came to an agreement bloated with pork and stupid spending, increasing the deficit by $2 trillion; a few weeks ago it looked like a leaner $1 trillion bill was on the horizon, but that fell apart.  They can't reach an agreement because Nancy Antoinette is still speaker and controls the house.  She won't give up the Evil Party's $2 trillion worth of giveaways to leftist causes, which would make it a $3 trillion bill.  Those who think spending $1 trillion is serious money seem to have won the day and blocked those with the Modern Monetary Theory/AOC's “you just pay for it” mindset.

Even John Maynard Keynes said printing money out of thin air was something to be done in bad times and not all the time.  While I'm a "sound money" guy - I strongly believe in a commodity standard, whether gold or silver or some other limited hard asset - I've said many times that I think a fiat dollar like we have could work.  Our leaders and central bankers would have to not play politics with the dollar, not use the printing press to buy votes, not try to change the dollar's value to tweak other countries and they would have to live within a constrained budget.  They should not be allowed to print money to fund foreign wars or the welfare state.  The only difference is that our legislators would have to be grown up, mature leaders.  

In other words, we're screwed.  

 (Tami Chappell/REUTERS/Newscom)




  1. I suspect there's plenty more from this Administration to come on the self-serving front.

  2. Under what moral argument does the organized criminal gang called government deserve any control over anything? The head monkey jumps and screams and issues commands, and the follower monkeys obey. Most humans are NPCs; it's not any more complicated than that.

    Interestingly, some researchers hypothesise that fission fusion societies may have been socially inherited from the last shared common ancestor of humans, chimpanzees and bonobos.

  3. first, this isn't "trump's cdc". the cdc is NOT a dotgov agency, its a501c3 charity. its certainly not trump's, he's been scrapping with them from the start of this covidcrap. i'm not even sure he knows about this eviction moratorium. there must be millions of bits and pieces of information all screaming for his attention right now.

    1. The CDC Foundation is not a "dotgov" agency. The CDC itself, however, most certainly is.

  4. And there's the main problem with gubmint alphabet regulatory agencies. They are handed power that is not constitutionally theirs to have or to be handed. Then all they have to do is issue diktats and VOILA! Property rights, what property rights?

  5. There are no laws. There is no constitution. There is only power.
    Nothing any of the governors have done over the previous 6 months re: Covid has been legal, either. And yet the people obey.

    1. Agreed! Here in Texas the threat has been ongoing fines. Outside of the big cities (I live near San Antonio) and a few other places, no one is vigorously enforcing the mask requirements. Governor Abott has lost my support because he has succumb to the hysteria and I will vote for an alternate conservative (if we still can) in two years. The patterns over the last 30+ years and in particular the last 15 or so, have shown that we are into a country RULED by the bureaucrats.

  6. I have been lucky so far, in that I was smart enough to make sure my rental property is a more upscale one, so I am less likely to be forced to deal with low level morons who would skip out on paying rent. My tenants are paying, but that is because my rent was high enough to keep out the riff raff.

    My tenants are a young professional couple- she is a dentist, and he is a teacher. They have a young child with another on the way and I have no problems with them at all. They are nice people who pay their bills and don't trash my place.
    The people who are hurting are the landlords who bought cheap places in the hood and have welfare recipients for tenants. Thankfully, I was smarter than that.

  7. Even before this I've noticed that properties that used to get "For Rent" signs now have "For Sale" signs.

    Almost as if the land lords are aware that a rental isn't worth the effort if a tenant can just blow off the rent and there's no recourse to recover it.

    Never mind a tenant who is paying the rent, but is also actively destroying the property.

    Never mind a combination of these...

    Coupled with how it's near impossible for a landlord to recover much more than the deposit thanks to tenant protection laws.

  8. The Nazi's victims who could have so easily resisted but didn't, by their willing obedience to evil committed as big of an evil as the Nazis did. People who pride themselves on being law-abiding could simply stop paying taxes to their enemy's institutions. But they'd never do that, because government is their religion.

    1. Ah, you see, that's the beauty of today's taxation system. It's not the person paying the taxes himself: they're collected and handed in by others, for the most part.

      Most people getting a paycheck, have an estimate of their taxes taken right off the top. Sure, you can go to the trouble of claiming 99 dependents on your W-4, but that will raise some eyebrows and questions.

      Try not paying sales tax when you buy groceries or hardware or furniture. The store will refuse to not collect it.

      In fact about the only one I can think of offhand, is property taxes ... but then, if you have an escrow with your mortgage company, even that is "taken care of."

  9. It's a vague law (probably deliberately, for good and ill), and whether a moratorium on evictions is "necessary to prevent the spread of such diseases" is the point at issue. The "including" does not add "and limited to", therefore anything not listed that the CDC considers "necessary" fits the bill and is legal (without necessarily being also good or wise), unless otherwise determined by someone in black robes.

    When our Congressweasels write vague laws and delegate extra-Constitutional legal powers to unelected agencies, we get rule by bureaucratic fiat.

    What it unquestionably is not is illegal, at this point, absent precedent to the contrary.
    And it isn't particularly hard to argue that turning people (potentially infectious) out into the streets is counter-productive amidst a pandemic.

    So by all means, argue that landlord property rights amidst a pandemic trump not infecting anyone and everyone else in society, and someone's got a winning legal position.

    But I reckon it'll be a tough sell in court, however obnoxious and inconvenient to anyone renting a place.

    1. Aesop obviously agrees with me that there is no law, there is no Constitution, there is only power. And he's all for it.

      And you'll be burned as a witch if you don't bow down to the hysterical mask fad, because to not wear a mask is the same as walking down the street with a shotgun, blowing the heads off random strangers.

    2. ...or sending them to the death camps as our esteemed Greek story-teller has claimed in the past.

  10. In 2014, 90+% of 250,000 people in Connecticut who were plausibly gun owners declined to file gun registration forms, and nothing happened to them. If there's ten million employees filing 99 dependents and small business owners not sending in quarterly tax payments, nothing will happen to them. Exchange your liquid assets for gold coins, stop paying your mortgage and car loan, take the license tag off your car, and turn off that cell phone. Don't accept any bad consequences, and nothing will happen. Problem is there aren't ten million actual conservatives in the USA.