He Loved Not Wisely, But Too Well
Published: May 21st, 2009
By: Shelly Reuben

He loved not wisely, but too well

To be a landlord is to be imprisoned in the last form of sanctioned slavery in this country. It is the only job that the worker cannot quit if he so desires. Whether his tenants pay him or not, he must service them. If he ceases to service them, he is fined or put in jail. If he tries to evict those who do not pay him, it is at his time and expense that he must go to landlord-tenant court. He cannot establish his own fees (rent) for the services that he provides. He cannot enforce leases or contracts if a city or state legislates lower rents or increased services.

He cannot pick and choose his tenants.

He operates from a position of powerlessness in a world in which those to whom he provides services (his tenants), who came to him of their own free will, treat him as a Robber Baron, a Capitalist Pig, a Slumlord.

They destroy his property. They break his lights. They throw garbage down the toilet, and then sue him because the light is out in the hall or the toilet is stopped up.

And they win.

They embody the son who kills his parents and then appeals to the court for mercy… because he is an orphan.

And the courts do grant mercy. Not to the slain parents. To the “orphan”.

In 1965, my Uncle Jack was sued for $25,000 by a tenant in a building he owned on Ogden Avenue. This tenant was the sole occupant of the third floor, where he lived with his mentally retarded daughter. One of her symptoms was to dance and jitter uncontrollably. The lawsuit alleged that this retarded girl had slipped on a ketchup-smeared potato chip bag outside her door (only the tenant, his friends, and family ever came to the third floor; there were no other visitors). After slipping, she supposedly fell down a flight of stairs to the second floor, turning the corner as she fell, bounced three feet in the air (the height of the window sill), and then bounced out of that second story window.

Uncle Jack lost the lawsuit.

When he took the case to appellate court, claiming that it was an improper verdict since people don’t “bounce,” the appeal was denied.

The supreme court refused to hear his case.

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