I am not a prophet, seer, or tarot card reader. I do not possess any kind of psychic ability. But I can predict the future, for I possess the power of principles. Principles allow us to project the consequences of our actions, and predict the actions of others.

About 10 days ago, police officers in Houston were called to a group home. They shot and killed a mentally ill man who threatened them with a pen. Community activists are up in arms over the incident, demanding an investigation and otherwise engaging in their normal publicity stunts. At the same time, the local media is starting, what I predict will be, a campaign to regulate the city’s group homes.

The campaign started over the weekend, with one newspaper columnist pointing out that these group homes are operating under the “government radar.” Without saying it, the columnist implies that individuals should not be allowed to do anything without government scrutiny.

Campaigns of this sort usually involve a number of reports regarding an alleged problem. In this case, we’ll likely hear many stories about violence at group homes. I suspect that the local paper will do an investigative report, dragging out stories of deviancy and abuse. We’ll be subjected to ambiguous and meaningless statistics. And through it all, we’ll be told that government must do something.

For the most part, the public won’t pay any attention to this. But the activists and the group home owners who think they can profit will push for government controls. The squeaky slime will get the government grease. And then, the problems will really begin, though few will trace it to this particular government intervention.

As is the case with all government regulations, the innocent will be punished. Operators who do not abuse or violate the rights of their clients will be forced to jump through hoops, and those hoops will grow smaller and smaller in time. Many will be forced out of business, and those that remain will have additional costs and paperwork. Those would have lived in group homes will find themselves on the streets, and a new group of activists will demand that  government do something.

Instead of imposing regulations on the entire industry, the city should prosecute those who actually violate the rights of other individuals. Until an individual violates the rights of another, their actions are not the government’s business.

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Brian Phillips has been actively defending individual rights for the past twenty-five years. He has successfully helped defeat attempts to implement zoning in Houston, Texas, and Hobbs, New Mexico. His writing has appeared in The Freeman, Reason, The Orange County Register, The Houston Chronicle, The Objective Standard, Capitalism Magazine, and dozens of other publications. He is the author of Individual Rights and Government Wrongs

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