Recently, the Associated Press (AP) published an article the Reno paper ran with the headline, “Judge orders women to leave house.”
Last year, real estate investment group Wedgewood, Inc., bought an Oakland three-bedroom house in foreclosure for $501,000. In November, before Wedgewood could take legal possession, three homeless women and their children, calling themselves Moms 4 Housing, illegally moved in.
The squatters refuse to leave, so Wedgewood asked a California court to direct the local sheriff to evict them. The judge did so, giving them five days to leave.
An attorney helping them said, “We understand that the court’s hands are tied because in this country property fights are valued over human rights.”
One of the women, Dominque Walker, 34 and the mother of 1- and 5-year-old daughters, added, “Housing is a human right. I pay bills there. I pay water, PG&E, internet. We live there.”
So, if they claim housing is a human right, they have a right to seize someone’s property. And their lawyer posits a false distinction between sacred human rights and grubby property rights, and then falsely claims the courts value property rights over human rights.
Walker also said, “We want to purchase the home … it needs to belong back in the hands of the community.” And, “It was stolen through the foreclosure crisis.”
AP adds, the women say they moved into the house partly to protest the methods of speculators who snap up distressed homes and leave them empty despite the housing crisis. While Walker says “we” are the community and want to purchase the house, AP clarifies that they want Wedgewood to sell the property to a nonprofit land trust (that presumably would let them continue to live there).
But they moved in before Wedgewood could even take possession of the house. So, obviously Wedgewood isn’t the party that left the house empty. Lest one think perhaps the women merely chose the wrong house for their protest, Walker adds the ignorant and malicious lie that Wedgewood stole it.
Moving beyond technicalities, the real points here are the false distinction between human and property rights and the claim that property rights are wrongly favored. Plus the implication that wrapping oneself in the flag of human rights permits one to do anything and wrong anybody, especially corporations, to secure those human rights.
In this case, all one needs to do to justify seizures or other aggressive actions is claim to be a victim, even of mere misfortune, and allege the other party is culpable, even for doing reasonable and socially beneficial things like buying a house in foreclosure.
Asserting a “human right” to housing confers on someone an obligation to provide housing at that someone’s expense. That’s so obviously wrong and predatory that the kleptos and their ideologue supporters always demonize the real victims to make the theft or other aggressive action seem justified. Ergo, the lie that Wedgewood stole the house.
Perhaps the women come from a culture that taught them nothing of how the world really works: via invention, innovation, work, savings and investment, productivity, disruption and competition to get income by delivering value to employers, consumers and the public interest. And taught them nothing of the essential role of property rights in providing all human wellbeing.
Maybe in their experience things work via the kleptocracy of politics: asserted rights, demands, demonstrations, coercion, legislation, regulation, litigation, etc.
Thus, they wouldn’t know that the real causes of unaffordable housing and so many other California problems are the entitlements, land-use and related regulations, high taxes and transfer payments, green dogma, etc. fostered by the politics of them and their advocates.
But what’s the excuse for AP writers and editors and mainstream media generally?
They should recognize the slimy ethical and vacuous intellectual basis of these claims do not merit coverage. They should be researching and producing stories that educate more people on how the world really works and the problems caused by progressive policies.
So, Sunday morning, I opened the electronic version of the only local newspaper I subscribe to and trust, the Las Vegas Review Journal, and I see, buried on page A8, a story headlined “Poll shows Democrats more trusted with health care”
Which was true…sort of. Because I’m pretty sure the story reported the numbers of the poll accurately.
The “poll” was an “Associated Press-NORC Center” poll which, you had to read seven paragraphs to the bottom of the story—by the Associated Press—to find out that “The poll of 1,108 adults was conducted April 11-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.” Let me be the first to ask the question: If that factoid had been in the headline or in the first paragraph, would anyone take this seriously? What if the story read like this:
“A poll of 1,108 adults paid for by the company selling this story to news outlets says that Democrats are more trusted to handle healthcare in the United States. The pollsters say that the 1108 adults can predict the sentiments of the 128,824,246 voters who cast a ballot in 2016 with a margin of error of 4.1 percent.”
Would anybody actually believe—especially after the 2016 election—that a sample of .0000086 percent of the voting electorate has a margin of error of 4.5 percent? But, in my favorite local newspaper, it is presented as fact. If this kind of polling were accurate, why did virtually every pollster predict Hillary by 7 points on the day of the 2016 election.
Polling used to be easier because, for most purposes, you could at least get a sample which was demographically sound. We could tell roughly where you lived by your telephone number and who you were. Today, with the advent of cell phones and cheap VOIP services, we cannot even tell with certainty what state you are in. Further, there is the built-in bias of many news organizations which sponsor such polls. If you believe that the AP is some kind of neutral news behemoth, guess again. Ditto for CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC and, yes, even Fox. They all come at stories from a predominately liberal viewpoint (with the occasional exception of Fox) so why would you believe that their polling selections would be much different?
Then, there’s the “if you see it in the media it must be true” school of thought. It’s today’s version of Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels’ Big Lie theory which, simply stated, says if you tell a lie big enough, many people will have to believe it. Inevitably, these “polls” are presented by the same people who populate organizations like the White House Correspondents Association and are soooo offended by the term Fake News and the President’s assertion that those who willfully present Fake News are the enemies of the people.
But the truth is not only is President Trump correct, but the average voter knows bullcrap when he or she sees it. Journalists have a tendency to see themselves as more knowledgeable and more important than average voting citizens. Many times, in conversation, journalists use terms like “them” and “those people” to describe and differentiate average voters. As if journalists, somehow, fall into a different category. Like Hillary and the word deplorable.
Want some proof? Watch those panels on FNC and CNN. Watch the Sunday morning shows.
It’s that sort of hubris which allows them to write headlines and lead paragraphs like the one I referred to above—even in my favorite local newspaper. (And I’m not kidding about that.) I’ve been in this business since I was 12. But I live about 2,600 miles from Washington and my neighbors remind me daily that I’m pretty average. I would hate for it to be any other way.