Monday, June 7, 2010

The Politics of Hoarding

The lives of compulsive hoarders have long been a fascination of mine. What would drive some to acquire and hold onto items in such a manner that they lose control of their belongings, their homes, and even their lives? Thanks to the newest slate of hoarding-themed shows on the air, an unprecedented look is being given into the lives of those effected with this debilitating disorder.

Sadly, anyone who has watched any hoarding television programs has witnessed both individuals lives and their governments spiraling out of control.

While it is completely appropriate for landlords to demand hoarders to clean up or get out (they obviously have the right to maintain the integrity of their properties), the government has no right to tell individuals how to manage their property as long as others' rights are not being violated. Sadly, time after time the government steps in and tells adults (without children even!) how they must maintain their homes. This is a massive affront to liberty. In a free society there is no room for such a massive infringement on one's property rights. People should be free to make their own mistakes.

Regretfully, action against hoarders and like offenders is expected and embrace by many today. A common rebut is "It is for their own good." In fact, many times it is the Department of Adult Protective Services that forces hoarders to clean up their act. (The fact that such a department exists is repulsive to any who value personal responsibility and individual liberty.) Perhaps the behavior of hoarders is detrimental to their health. As a neat freak, I definitely am no fan of those types of living conditions. But it is not mine or the masses' preferences, feelings, or beliefs that should dictate how an individual lives his or her life. Property rights are fundamental, and the willing violation of one's property rights negatively affects us all.

If we value the protection of our own rights, we must resist the violation of others' rights.

When we live in a society where the government can tell an individual how he or she can maintain their own property, we see that the biggest mess isn't that of the hoarders. The mess it that of the government.

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