In Market Urbanism’s four part series on rent control, I avoided the topic of the morality of rent control, as I intended to address the economic issues and leave the morality to others. Thankfully, J. Brian Phillips of the Ad Hoc Committee for Property Rights is an expert on the subject. In his blog, he linked to the recent Retail Rent Control post, and took the time to address the moral issue:
But the real issue isn’t political. The real issue is moral. A large part of the public sees nothing wrong with forcing others to provide for their wants and desires. And there is a steady stream of politicians all too eager to propose laws to grant them their wishes. They think that their wishes can somehow transform reality, that if they pass a law with the intention of creating affordable widgets, affordable widgets will result. They think that politicians are nothing more than genies who can grant their wish simply by writing a law. It doesn’t work that way. Reality is not malleable to one’s wishes.
He makes plenty of good points, so I recommend reading the whole post. He concludes:
Each individual has a moral right to live for his own happiness. He has a right to the fruits of his labor. He has a right to pursue his values without intervention from others, so long as he respects their mutual rights. Human beings are not sacrificial animals.
Also, here’s another another article on the morality of rent control: Why Rent Control is Immoral by Michael S. Berliner, Ph.D.
The morality issue belongs as a prominent part of the rent control discussion, but is seldom heard among all the progressive anti-market rhetoric.