“A man’s home is his castle”. In today’s politically correct and gender inclusive society we might say “A person’s home is his/her castle”. Whatever.
The formal name for this axiom is the Castle Doctrine. It derives from English Common Law and is the basis for both the Third and Fourth Amendments in the Bill of Rights. These protect Americans in their places of residence. The British honored and respected the inviolability private living spaces.
"The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter; the rain may enter; but the King of England cannot enter - all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!"
William Pitt 1st Earl of Chatham
Speech in Parliament against an excise tax on perry and cider – 1763
Our Constitution and the ancient legal traditions that precede it acknowledged the sanctity of the home so much so that the world’s most powerful man cannot enter uninvited. If that be so, then it should also stand the householder should be able to invite whomever he so chooses into his home and to determine the conditions of entry.
He may throw a pot-luck party and require all who enter to bring a dish. He may throw a masquerade ball and insist that all guests come in costume. He may permit his adult children to live in his home but demand that they pay rent or contribute to the payment of bills. He may allow his kids’ boy/girl-friends to sleep over but not in the same room. He may forbid alcohol consumption or indoor smoking. He may respectfully ask those with whom he disagrees to leave. He may in engage in any sort of erotic escapades that float his boat with one or more consenting adults.
To a limited extent, the protections that an American enjoys in his home are also extended to his motor vehicle. He is protected from unreasonable search and seizures. He may allow any consenting adult whom he so chooses to ride as a passenger in his conveyance.
It would seems as plain as day that an owner may invite whomever he pleases to stay in his home or to ride in his car. One would think. However, songstress Cyndi Lauper, was dead on in singing that money changes everything.
The emergent sharing economy is under fierce attack from local monopolists and the politicians that protect and profit from them.
The sharing economy empowers everyday people to make a buck from assets that they own that are just lying there doing nothing – things like empty bedrooms and the car sitting in the driveway. However, rather than posting a handmade sign on community bulletin boards, mobile apps have created and coordinated a marketplace of millions of buyers and sellers. Airbnb is the leader in the residential space, Uber in ridesharing.
In city after city, cabbies, limo drivers and hoteliers are turning their friends in government to squelch the average guy and gal in the street from competing with them. The main claim of established licensed operators is that they are subject to regulations and taxes that ride and room sharers bypass.
On the surface this seems like an unfair advantage that the sharing economy players have over their traditional rivals. However, it is essential to understand that regulation, licenses and fees are only barriers to keep small, underfunded and under-lawyered startups on the sidelines. They only masquerade as “consumer protection”.
America’s Founding Fathers were students of John Locke who taught that sole purpose of government was to uphold individual liberty by protecting private property. He wrote:
“The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent: for the preservation of property being the end of government, and that for which men enter into society.”
By barring average citizens from disposing of the spare rooms in their homes and empty seats in their cars as they see fit, the government nullifies its raison d’etre of defending property rights in order squelch competition for its A-List clientele.
Uber and its drivers, Airbnb and its innkeepers are doing more than making money on underemployed assets. They are fighting for the essential liberty that America was founded to preserve. They are defending our little castles from being overrun by crony kings and two-bit tyrants.
Liberty before all! Liberty above all! Liberty Uber Alles!