Anyone who supposes that government overreach is a recent residue of, say, the Obama administration, or even of FDR's New Deal, or of the Progressive era in the early 20th Century of American politics may want to check out this letter from the December 7, 1850 Times of London, which I stumbled across in the course of some research this afternoon:
There was published in The Times of 7 December 1850 (too late to be used in the above-named work, which I issued in the last week of 1850), a letter dated from the Reform Club, and signed "Architect," which contained the following passages:
Lord Kinnaird recommends in your paper of yesterday the construction of model lodging-houses by throwing two or three houses into one.
Allow me to suggest to his Lordship, and to his friend Lord Ashley to whom he refers, that if,—
1. The window tax were repealed,
2. The building Act repealed (excepting the clauses enacting that party and external walls shall be fireproof),
3. The timber duties either equalized or repealed, and,
4. An Act passed to facilitate the transfer of property.
There would be no more necessity for model lodging-houses than there is for model ships, model cotton-mills, or model steam-engines.
The first limits the poor man's house to seven windows,
The second limits the size of the poor man's house to 25 feet by 18 (about the size of a gentleman's dining-room), into which space the builder has to cram a staircase, an entrance passage, a parlour, and a kitchen (walls and partitions included).
The third induces the builder to erect the poor man's house of timber unfit for building purposes, the duty on the good material (Baltic) being fifteen times more than the duty on the bad or injurious article (Canadian). The Government, even, exclude the latter from all their contracts.
The fourth would have considerable influence upon the present miserable state of the dwellings of the poor. Small freeholds might then be transferred as easily as leaseholds. The effect of building leases has been a direct inducement to bad building.
The struggle for economic freedom against counterproductive taxes and regulations is one that has been fought for a long, long time.