Somehow I ended up on an e-mail list of some H.O.A. reform group. Somebody had an idea of creating a P.R./P.S.A. ad campaign to educate the public about H.O.A. corporations.
Here are some “quick and dirty” rough drafts I brainstormed, that were quickly rejected for being too offensive, or something. Explanations are below the pictures.
Click on the images for larger views.
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Since I don’t know how to use Photoshop or GIMP, the “Berlin Wall” in the photo below was done with Microsoft Paint, which is why it looks like something done in Microsoft Paint. I don’t have the skills or tools to make it better. ( Edited to add: I just printed a hardcopy of this yesterday at the FedEx Office store, and it looks even worse on paper, because there isn’t enough contrast between the grey wall and the blue sky ).
You can click on the image above for a larger view. Since the picture as displayed on this web page is so small, here is the text:
Communism Will Never Be Truly Defeated, As Long As H.O.A.s Exist
An Irony Curtain has descended across America’s neighborhoods.
H.O.A. corporations are a hybrid system, enforcing the wretched political aims of Communist regimes using ruthlessly efficient capitalist means. It’s a $50 billion (with a “b”) per year industry that seeks to deprive over 60,000,000 Americans of their 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th Amendment rights under the guise of contract law. Using fine print and the legal fiction of “constructive notice”, politicians, lawyers, and judges are telling American home owners that they agreed to be abused and robbed. It’s a propaganda campaign so vile and effective and Orwellian — turning the most freedom-loving of Americans into apologists for the collective ownership of your private property — that even Soviet apparatchiks couldn’t have dreamed it up. Governments have been requiring the creation of H.O.A. corporations, forcing more and more Americans home owners to give up their liberty in exchange for the false promises of protecting property values, so that we can enjoy the privileges of being “double taxed”, subjected to unlimited liability, and tread upon in our own homes.
Living in an H.O.A. means “Leaving the American Zone”.
The line about “Communism Will Never Be Truly Defeated, as Long as H.O.A.s Exist” was stolen from Daily Kos (Nov. 17, 2006).
The line about “enforcing the wretched political aims of Communist regimes using ruthlessly efficient capitalist means” was stolen from Fred Reed’s description of the American surveillance state, published in late 2002 (column # 170).
“Living in an H.O.A. means ‘Leaving the American Zone'” was stolen from the tag line of Shu Bartholomew’s weekly radio program “On The Commons“.
The man on the left is Karl Marx, co-author of The Communist Manifesto (1848). The man on the right is Comrade Tom Skiba, C.E.O. of the Community Associations Institute ( www.caionline.org ). I’ll leave it as an exercise for future historians to judge which one should be condemned more.
The C.A.I. is a 501(c)(6) trade and lobbying organization that represents “a huge percentage of the nation’s homeowner association specialist attorneys, property managers, and insurance specialists“. Contrary to frequent claims, they do not represent home owners governed by H.O.A. corporations. “It is an impossible conflict of interests for a trade association to also seek to represent consumers of their services“.
This was inspired by George Staropoli’s observation that “You can vote in China, and in your HOA“. I changed it to North Korea simply because I found this picture I liked of North Korean border guards on some Chinese news web site. The guy looking through binoculars seems appropriate for a parody P.S.A. about H.O.A. corporations.
This was a poster of a Soviet border guard. I removed the letters “ПВ” ( Пограничные войска ) from the shoulder boards. I would have liked to add the letters “H.O.A.” to his shoulder boards, but I don’t have the skills or tools to do that. Trying to do it in Microsoft Paint would have looked worse than my “Berlin Wall” picture above. I did remove the AK-47 he was holding, but I couldn’t reproduce the collar that was behind the rifle quite right.
A home owner bearing the burden of the H.O.A., that I created a few years ago. This was a pencil sketch that I scanned. It appears on page 113 of my book, and in various other places (for example, this PDF file ; one sheet if printed double-sided).
“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw the blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders — what would you tell him to do?”
– Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged. 1957.
It has long been the official position of the Republican Party that contracts requiring workers to be mandatory members of a labor union as a condition of employment should be outlawed — both at the states and federal level. If the G.O.P. had any integrity, Republicans would make it a priority to extend that same protection to American home owners, and work to outlaw contracts requiring mandatory membership in an H.O.A. corporation as a condition of home ownership.
Ari Armstrong is a long-time Colorado libertarian activist; see his web site ariarmstrong.com .
Click on the image above for larger view. It’s based on the idea that “Those who give up liberty for the false promises of protecting property values will receive neither“, which is an obvious paraphrase of Ben Franklin’s quote about freedom and security. I’m not quite happy with this, but it’s the best idea using the Ben Franklin saying that I can think of for now. Maybe I’ll work it into a graph showing both the number of H.O.A. corporations and housing prices over the past 10 – 20 years, with Ben saying something like “How’s that ‘protecting property values‘ working out for you?” Or maybe F.A. Hayek saying something about “The Privatized Toll Road To Serfdom”.
The Ari Armstrong quotes are from his previous web site, “Colorado Freedom Report”. See:
- Freedom Updates: February 12, 2003 (scroll down to “In Defense of Homeowners Associations “).
- Homeowners Associations Debated (February 2003)
- Is a Homeowners’ Association a Contract? (February 2003)
- Freedom Updates: September 24, 2003 (scroll down to “Legislation vs. Contracts for Property Rules”)
- Johnson, Armstrong Debate HOAs, Gambling (October 2003)
HOAs do a great job of illustrating to libertarians (who seem to need to learn this more than the average person, for some reason) that the world is not a deductive system, and all facts about human relations don’t follow from a simple logical calculus. Simply spinning out definitions of voluntary and involuntary quickly gets you into a conundrum here.
I have no idea who J. Alan Katz is, but I like that quote so much I try to use it whenever possible, along with the following comment by fuzzyfuzzyfungus in response to “Glenn Beck Is Planning A $2 Billion Libertarian Commune In Texas” (Jan. 13, 2013):
‘libertarians’ seem to have a hard-on that just won’t quit for petty authoritarianism and power imbalances, so long as they can be couched in the language of contract…
In this case, an HOA is basically what happens when you think that ‘zoning’ is fascist but you want control over what color your neighbor’s house is.
In response to my pictures above, Colorado blogger Billll — with four “l“s — sent me the following e-mail:
Just me but I think you’re missing something. HOA’s are not communistic, that’s an economic theory that suggests that everyone in the HOA would put their salaries in a pot, and the money would be divided among the members equally. After covering the managements “expenses” of course.
An HOA is better described as totalitarian or statist or tinpot dictator-ist. The limit to economic theory here is found in rent-seeking in which the HOA has figured out how to collect rent from people who are trying to buy their homes, presumably to get away from paying rent.
The phrase “protection money” also comes to mind with Guido and Nunzio demanding payment. “Nice house you got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it.” Portraying an HOA as a “kinder, gentler (?) mob would be more accurate and resonate better.
On the back cover of my book (and also in Chapter 01), I do describe the Madison Hill H.O.A. corporation as “an organized crime extortion racket that has been legalized by the state of Colorado.”
Edited to add the following cartoon, in response to Billll’s comment about “protection money” :
In other places, I’ve described H.O.A. corporations as “the Libertarian Party and Republican Party vision for America”. This one always draws a lot of ire, but what is there about governance by an unregulated private corporation under the guise of contract law for a Tea Partyin’ disciple of Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan not to love? If the answer is “H.O.A. corporations”, perhaps they need to re-examine their premises.
Edited to add this variation of the Gadsden Flag :
So take your pick: communism, capitalism, organized crime syndicate, petty authoritarians, etc. The H.O.A. rabbit hole is so deep, that there’s a lot of material and a lot of angles for any aspiring satirist to work with.
Here’s a poster I found elsewhere that is just full of possibilities…
photo by Bartlomiej Stroinski ( stroinski.pl )
I have no idea who wrote the “Be Nice” text, but that can easily be changed; e.g. “Be Nice. A friendly reminder from your H.O.A. board” or “Obey the Rules. A friendly reminder from your H.O.A.“, etc.
EDITED TO ADD: Here’s another photo of Stroinski’s “the soviet militia senior lieutenant” that just begs to be turned into an H.O.A. poster:
And here’s another cartoon I drew last night, after listening to Mike Randolph on KNPR “State of Nevada”. *
Inflammatory and offensive? Absolutely. Accurate? Unfortunately, yes.
I suspect that a lot of the folks who yell the loudest about “government is too big” and “private property rights” in public, go home, lock the doors, pull down the window shades, and dress up in Communist’s clothes and fantasize about having control over what their neighbors do with their property. I hope I’m wrong.
* I have no idea what Mr. Randolph’s political or ideological leanings are, except for his “authoritarian desires”, which know no political boundaries.
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