Thursday, February 03, 2011

F. A. Hayek, Liberal | Bottom-up

F. A. Hayek, Liberal | Bottom-up: "One of the more pernicious influences of Rand and Rothbard on the libertarian movement was their tendency to treat every policy problem as almost reducible to a logical syllogism. Too many libertarians act as though they don’t need to know very much about the details of any given policy issue because they can deduce the right answer directly from libertarian principles."

That's a pretty good statement of what's wrong with the libertarian view on HOAs. I found this link originally at Andrew Sullivan's blog


gnut said...

Over the past year or two, conservative and libertarian blogs have been referencing Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom". A short illustrated version can be found at

This was about the time I got involved in HOA issues, which prompted me to coin the phrase "The Privatized Toll Road To Serfdom".

At least, as far as I know, I'm the first to come up with that phrase, although the idea itself is not new (see "repressive libertarianism" and "Totalarian Government Dystopia vs Privatized Corporate Dystopia").

Fred Pilot said...

I would agree, Evan. Human affairs and governance most certainly don't lend themselves to a purely Mr. Spock logical analysis.

For local government privatization, i.e. mandatory membership HOAs, one of the biggest weaknesses is the lack of an established open and accountable governance culture that people have come to expect from municipal and county local government. Of course that standard isn't always met, but unlike HOAs there is an underlying value system that strongly supports those things. Plus as you pointed out in a recent post, these forms of local government are far more professionalized and more likely to share best practices than their private counterparts.

gnut said...

According to one comment at a prominent conservative/libertarian web site discussing "The Road to Serfdom":

The old slavemasters of the Antebellum South used to require that the slaves work for them 1/3 of the time and use the other 2/3 of their time to care for their own needs. Don’t know about y’all, but I shell out in excess of 50% of my real income to various governments in the form of taxes. . . .The slaves had it easy.

Since stupid things are said in open internet forums all the time, I can't hold the site owners responsible for a comment made by some nut.

But it is telling that no one else pointed out the idiocy of such thinking.

gnut said...

> what's wrong with the libertarian view on HOAs.

What's wrong with the libertarian view on HOAs could fill an entire book.

Somebody should write one.

gnut said...

> And I thought that my libertarian friends
> were too dismissive of Wu’s central thesis:
> that excessive concentrations of corporate power,
> often with the active assistance of government,
> posed a real danger to individual liberty.

As regular readers of this blog are well aware, HOA corporations are a perfect example of "concentrations of corporate power" posing a "real danger to individual liberty."

The idea that a corporation is "a thing of beauty" is as wrong as the idea that communism benefits the workers. It sounds great in theory to a sixteen-year-old, but we've seen how well that works in the real world.

Conservatism and libertarianism has descended into a parody of corporatism. They believe that it is impossible for corporations to have too much power; except for labor unions (see below).

Putting aside the fact that joining a communisty association is not necessarily a freely consented-to "contract" because (1) it fails basic tenants of Rational Choice Theory and (2) governments mandating the existence of HOA corporations has reduced consumer choice, perhaps someone should point out the conservative/liberal hypocrisy regarding labor unions vs HOA unions:


labor union: mandatory membership in a labor union as a condition of employment should be outlawed

HOA union: mandatory membership in an HOA union as a condition of home ownership is a private contract that the homeowner agreed to, and any suggestion otherwise endangers private property rights


labor union: labor unions should be prohibited from using union dues for political purposes

HOA union: the use of mandatory HOA dues against the interest of the homeowners -- from parasitic attorneys to CAI lobbying -- is not any of the government's business


labor unions: collectivism harms the individual worker, and collective bargaining is inherently un-American

HOA unions: collectivism protects property values (ignore what's been happening to housing prices over the past several years), and collective bargaining allows homeowners to obtain a better price for goods and services from vendors


labor unions: the elections are corrupt and fraudulent, with workers often being intimidated by union bosses to vote the "correct" way.

HOA unions: nothing to see here, move along

gnut said...

> what's wrong with the libertarian view on HOAs

Conservative and libertarian apologists for HOAs believe that Communism can work, if only the right people are put in charge.

This is why their one of their common retorts to complaints about HOAs is to "run for the board".

They'd rather have a benevolent dictator overseeing the interests of the communisty, rather than legislating any type of "bill of rights" for homeowners.

Because the latter is government intervention in the internal affairs of a private corporation, which is far worse to a corporatist than any form of oppression perpetrated by a private corporation.

gnut said...

> what's wrong with the libertarian view on HOAs.

Or, what's wrong with the conservative and libertarian views on corporations in general *.

The conservative/libertarian/Ayn Randian view of corporations is that their sole obligation is to make money. "Nothing more. Nothing less."

But for legal purposes, corporations are considered "persons."

A person who acts without a conscience (moral constraints, empathy for others, etc.) is a sociopath.

I think most readers of this blog would agree that HOA corporations, whatever their original intentions, have become sociopaths.

* There are some great reader comments (not just mine ;-) on the subject that are well worth reading at "The Corporation: A Thing of Power and Beauty" and "Obama Preaches the False Religion of Corporate Social Responsibility".