Tacitus, a senator and historian of the Roman Empire, once wrote that when “laws were most numerous, … the commonwealth was most corrupt.”
By: Alice Salles
This article first appeared at ANTIMEDIA
Much like the people of the Roman Empire, United States residents now suffer due to the country’s overly-regulated system. Too many rules, Tacitus would have repeated, indicate corruption. But America’s love for crony capitalism is deep-rooted and allows special interests the means to leave nothing to chance. The result? Government and its representatives now have more power than ever, and the young individual is poorer today than those of past generations.
As local and state governments chase the same unattainable goal, passing more laws to keep the individual beholden to powerful interests, people working in the shadows seem to thrive — at least, that’s what recent reports on AirBnB hosts in New York suggest.
In October 2016, New York City banned short-term rentals, imposing “fines of up to $7,500 for advertising rentals with a term of less than 30 days.” Feeling that the punishment would target AirBnB users the hardest, the company hit back. They filed a lawsuit claiming the law imposes “irreparable harm.” But shortly after, the company decided to drop the case, promising to avoid retaliating “as long as New York City only enforces the new law against hosts and does not fine [AirBnB] itself.”
As the ban was signed into law, the future seemed uncertain for New York hosts using the home-sharing app. After all, many could drop their listings altogether due to the city’s threat — and worse, nobody would blame them for it. But as the holiday season approached, AirBnBers remained defiant.
According to the company, there were more than 55,000 rentals in New York City “on the final night of 2016, up from about 47,000 on last New Year’s Eve.” All in all, the AirBnB added, “[t]here were more Airbnb rentals in New York City than anywhere else on the globe as 2016 became 2017.”
While this defiance represents a success for the San Francisco-based short-term rental service, it also demonstrates how much individuals are willing to risk in order to handle their property as they see fit.
But while many still believe the massive demonstration could help persuade local officials to change their minds on the ban, local and federal lawmakers are used to passing — rather than repealing — legislation. Unless something major changes, it’s unlikely that locals will succeed in undoing this ban following the company’s abandonment of the cause. Nevertheless, as the city of New York adds yet another pile of laws to its already heavy books, law enforcement continues to claim is lacks the resources to actually enforce these local rules.
If the goal is to live freely, breaking the laws in such a saturated environment may not be a responsible action if you’re unwilling to spend time in jail or pay a fine, but it is the action many choose to take, anyway. After all, if law enforcement cannot enforce new, invasive laws, locals are better off ignoring them.
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