No, you don’t own that

Powerline has a fascinating yet upsetting article titled, “Is California Starting to Circle the Drain?” in which Steven Hayward chronicles yet more examples of increasing crime in CA. Not much new there, though his depiction of how key fobs have made it so much easier for criminals to burgle your car makes me never want to buy a car with that feature. (He does mention some “countermeasures” in an update at the end of the article that make it worthwhile to read all the way to the end.)

Then he posts a long Twitter thread by a rental car guy in San Francisco whose van got stolen but the police wouldn’t help get it, even when he happened to come across the van during rush hour and followed it. He gives a blow-by-blow account (though, fortunately, only metaphorically).

Read it and weep, folks. The van isn’t “stolen” per the regs; the crime is “embezzlement.” The rules for filing the “embezzlement” claim are Byzantine. The police alternate between apologetic and annoyed. (And what business owner in his right mind wants to annoy the police? Police remember, and they have the law on their side. Note how politely the owner ends that part of the conversation.) The police do not help.

Hey, I get it that each and every one of these regulations is for our ostensible protection. Protect the helpless renter from the owner with all the power because he—you know—owns the truck and writes the contract. Protect innocents from false and harassing charges by requiring a physical visit to the police station to file the report. But add more laws, add more rules, and suddenly the only ones protected are the rules lawyers and the people who don’t obey the law. (Not to mention how many of these rules don’t achieve their goal in the first place, but that’s a post for another day.)

Forget “You didn’t build that.” How about “You don’t own that”?

You don’t own your own rental vehicle for the term of the contract plus 5 days. You don’t have the right to protect your property when it’s right in front of you. And heaven help you if it’s involved in a crime. You might never get it back if it’s taken under the asset forfeiture laws—or law enforcement’s interpretation of asset forfeiture laws. Or law enforcement’s collusion to get around asset forfeiture laws. Then you have no assurance of equal treatment under the law because the enforcers of the law have a conflict of interest.

I love law enforcement. Making them the enforcers of these laws and regs does them no service.

For those who say, “Well, if the business owner doesn’t want to obey those rules, then he shouldn’t have a business there, ” I say you miss the point. This is another piece of evidence that shows, when the government heavily regulates property like this, you don’t own it. You merely have possession of it so long as you jump through all the hoops and duck your head subserviently. But don’t miss a hoop, and keep your eyes down.

Remember, it’s all for your protection.

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