Friday, August 9, 2013
Three Ways in Which Smart Growth and Sustainable Development and Being a Permanent Renter Can Impact Your Life
Last evening I was talking with members of a local organization who have invited me to come and speak with them about Agenda 21. They had seen my presentation: Agenda 21: Bankrupting America into Utopia One City at a Time and had contacted me to see if I would give a similar presentation to their organization.
As we were talking, the group's representative commented that he had secured permission from the Parks' Department to use a venue located near public housing. This was by design he said, "Because people can look around and see that this is the government's vision for housing," adding that in some ways it's a pretty nice vision, although we oppose it because it contradicts our core principles of freedom, liberty and individual responsibility.
Although I agree with this gentlemen about virtually everything he said, his statement set me thinking that many Americans who are reading about Agenda 21 and Smart Growth would probably agree that on the surface at least, the government's vision is "pretty nice". Certainly, the new mixed use housing being built all over El Paso looks pretty enough on the outside, and the idea of walkable, livable communities sounds really convenient. Other than the fact that this involves change, which people naturally resist, what is the big deal? So for Friday I am putting together a quick 3 point list of rights that Agenda 21 and Smart Growth threaten:
1. Your right to keep and bear arms. This week in Colorado a public housing project threatened all of the residents of the complex, including a 77 year old veteran, with eviction unless they gave up their guns. Many, including the veteran, are legal gun owners, but the management of the complex took it upon themselves to inform residents that while they may have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, they do not have a right do so on apartment property. After this story got a lot of national attention, the owners made a public statement reversing the decision of management and saying that residents who legally own guns may keep them on the premises.
While this particular abuse of power by a landlord was stopped, we can look for similar cases to pop up across the nation as anti-gun sentiments increase. While Americans do have a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, that does not extend to all locations at all times. And if you are a life-long renter living in someone else's property, your right to bear arms can be greatly restricted. I explore this issue of gun rights in The Planner, but now we are seeing real life cases of it and it is disturbing, to say the least.
2. Your right to freedom of expression. My brother has been renting an apartment for over 10 years. He hates change, and he hates moving so he has been in the same complex all that time. He is a very good tenant, but the complex where he lives recently sold, and last fall they told him that before he could re-sign his lease, management would have to inspect his apartment. He made sure that his unit was clean and neat before the inspection, but after the inspection was complete he received a note from management that they had found items of a "disturbing" nature in his apartment. The items in question--a collection of crosses which he hung on his wall and a collection of American flags. The presence of crosses and American flags made him seem "radical" and they were not sure that he was the kind of person they wanted to lease to. After he protested the contents of the letter to the management company, they too backed off and allowed him to re-sign his lease. But he did notice that a lot of military people who had been living in the apartment complex left at about that same time--presumably because their leases were not renewed.
This past Christmas, the apartments sent out a notice that no one was allowed to hang any Christmas decorations outside of their unit because those decorations might be offensive to fellow tenants. He complied, but in his own apartment he put up a small Christmas tree which he decorated with lights. The tree was lighted only when the drapes were closed. However, a tenant saw colored lights peeking through the drapes and complained to management who sent him a note demanding that he cease all "offensive" activities. After he explained that other tenants are not supposed to be making an effort to see into his windows when his drapes are drawn, management withdrew that complaint too.
3. Your right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The Constitution protects Americans from search and seizure--by the government. Government agencies have to present a warrant specifying what they are searching for and where they expect to find it. But your landlord is not the government. And even if your landlord is the government, landlord's rights often trump your rights. Tenants' apartments are frequently entered and searched by employees of the landlord--be it maintenance people entering to complete a repair or management checking to see if they approve of the way the tenant is keeping up the property. So your way of life, your belongings, your religious habits--anything you do--can subject you to eviction if your landlord finds that you are in some way violating his or her policies. In a world of Smart Growth and high density living, where living spaces are expensive and not readily available, this power can be used to exert intense pressure on Americans to adjust their lifestyles to conform to the government's model of the perfect citizen.
Sustainable development is dangerous. It was designed by socialists for socialists, and like all socialist concepts it is fundamentally incompatible with freedom, liberty and the Constitution. Freedom-loving Americans need to fight it at every turn and stand up for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.