Thursday, June 30, 2011

Michelle's Litjens' Bad Water Bill

The Northwestern ran a recent editorial taking Representative Michelle Litjens to task for sponsoring a bill, "which would prohibit municipal utilities from placing tenants' unpaid utility bills on a landlord's property tax bill at the end of each year."  The problem as they see it is that that Litjens is also a landlord, so this bill could potentially benefit her directly.  While a good point, it is really a minor one.  The problem with this bill is that it is just bad policy.

The monopoly on force that citizens grant to their government should be used to establish the rule of law and a system for enforcing that law.  Beyond this, using the power of government to protect the profits of private business is always and everywhere a bad idea.

In the case of a landlord, the governments of the United States and the state of Wisconsin have clearly provided an environment where contracts are legally enforceable and mechanisms exist for compelling compliance with the terms of a contract.  Landlords have a duty to insure their renters are a good credit risk and are likely to pay their bills.  When those bills are unpaid, landlords should seek redress through the courts. Protecting landlords from tenants that don't pay their water bills is the job of the courts. Pursuing such claims is a cost of doing business when you are a landlord.  Making such protections an automatic feature of the law is the definition of privatizing profits and socializing losses.  It is not conservative and it is not representative of good governance.

I know that Representative Litjens is well though of by many conservatives, especially in the Fox Vallley. No doubt her star shines brightly on many occasions, this just isn't one of them.

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