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Home is where the deed is

In November of 2009, The New York Times reported a story about the increasing degree to which landlords — including the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, in their role of establishing rules for public housing agencies — were moving to ban all smoking within their apartments.  It is, of course, the logical end of the anti-smoking crusade but it has caught many people by surprise.

I noted this story in particular because of its juxtaposition with a host of other recent commentary pieces, in The Times and elsewhere, extolling the virtues of renting over buying homes as more economically, environmentally, and culturally stable and sustainable.  It seemed to me the two views of “home” were about to crash into each other and I wrote this to explain why.  It was not published.

16 November 2009

Ref: For Some Smokers, Even Home Is Off Limits (15 Nov 2009)

In the wake of the mortgage-related financial meltdown, there have been a slew of articles and commentary pieces, in The New York Times and elsewhere, decrying the American cultural (and governmental) bias toward home ownership and advancing the notion that a rental culture steeped in community would be far more sustainable and stable — economically, environmentally, and culturally — than our current obsession with private spaces privately held.

Let me submit that the recent move toward banning smoking in apartments — not only by landlords, themselves, exercising their prerogatives to control their private property, but particularly by governments exercising coercive authority to order people’s live according to their notions of what is good for us — is exhibit one for the proposition that owning your own home is a far superior choice.

It has been said that a man’s home is his castle.  That is, in our increasingly interconnected and regulated society, home is still the one refuge from social demands, is still the one place where your own preference truly determines how you live your life.

But, apparently, “home” is no longer home unless you own it yourself. So far, at least, no government has dared to cross that barrier.

Then again, given the trends, it’s probably only a matter of time….

© Copyright 2009, Augustus P. Lowell

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