This page is part of the Politics of Noise portion of Section Five:
which is the Activist section of

How Your Right to a Quiet Home Was Stolen

This page will cover the following:

  • why the U.S. Government colluded with big business to pass laws that now make it almost impossible for the American people to regulate noise effectively
  • the details of how the collusive parties worked their deceptive pro-noise scam on the American people

The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.
~ Thomas Paine

Introduction and Background Information

Most folks are of the mistaken belief that when it comes to noise, there are safeguards in place. After all, it seems logical to assume that there must be some sort of law on the books that will prevent your neighborhood from ever becoming so loud that the level of noise bleeding into your home from the outside will reach debilitating proportions. "The right to the quiet enjoyment of your property," is the phrase that is most often used.

What you actually have is the right to hire a lawyer who can go into civil court and try to force your neighbors to stop making noise. In other words, you have the right to try and convince a judge and a jury that you should have that right, providing that you have the resources to hire an attorney, and you can wait years to go to trial, and you are lucky enough to prevail once you finally get to court.

The fact is that by law, for people around the globe, the sheer volume of noise flooding into your home from the outside can be so enormous that you are unable to carry on a conversation or make out the words blaring from a nearby television set. There are no ordinances now on the books that will protect you from that.

If you live in the United States, your local statutes may shield you from some specific sources of noise. However, by law, the local authorities are powerless to act against many of the most pathogenic noise sources and, to be sure, there is no overall limit on the amount of ambient sound that is allowed on the street. Just as there is no law establishing a ceiling on the amount of noise that can be force-fed into your home from the street, your neighbor's yard, and points beyond.

Even if the noise of the outside world becomes so loud that it is impossible for you to ever sleep in your own home, you will still be out of luck, because amazingly, the way the laws are now structured, there is no nation anywhere on earth where people have a legal right to the expectation that their homes will be quiet enough to allow them to sleep there. Just sit back and let that thought settle in on you for a minute. As far as law enforcement is concerned, you have no right to the expectation that you will be able to sleep in your own home - ever - at any time of the day or night.

Most people find that impossible to believe, until the day comes that their home is rendered unlivable by noise force-fed in from the outside, and the authorities refuse to come to the rescue. Only then do people realize that, by law, they do not possess the acoustic rights to the inside of their own homes, because while they have a right to be there, they have no right to the expectation that the place will be quiet enough to make it possible for them to actually live there without suffering devastating consequences to their health.

The Set-up that Positioned the American People to be Victimized

Government policy is for sale. As in many other nations, that is how things work in the United States. Politicians run government, and the business people with the big bucks pull the strings on the politicos, and then sit back and count their money while they watch our elected officials dance to their tune, trampling the public interest in the process.

If you are honestly unaware of that, or there is any doubt in your mind as to whether or not it is true, then, I suggest you read Matthew Continetti's book, The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine.

Although Continetti's book focuses largely on the corrupt behavior of the Republican party in the U.S., it would be a mistake to think of the phenomenon as being peculiar to any one particular nation or any one political party. To be sure, the problem is not so much that the Republicans are corrupt as it is that the system itself is corrupting. And because it is a corrupt system in which selling influence is standard operating procedure, public policy can be bought by anyone with enough money and the political connections necessary to make the required pay-offs in the legally accepted fashion.

Why Government and Big Business Colluded to Scam Us on Noise

When laws are passed limiting noise, that limits business, and costs some powerful people a lot of money. But like the rest of us, powerful people don't like to lose money, and fortunately for them they don't have to, because they have the where-with-all to hire bagmen/lobbyists to make the necessary pay-offs through the accepted channels of legal bribery and, thereby, prevent effective noise laws from being passed. And in fact, that is exactly what took place in the United States.

The Advantage of a Convoluted Scam

Thomas Paine was a firebrand partisan in the days of the American revolution. He was a man well attuned to tyranny, who knew that political outrages committed against the people by those in authority were more effectively and, therefore, more commonly furthered through subterfuge than through forthright honesty or force of arms. No doubt it was with that in mind that Paine wrote, "The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes."

Apparently, Paine knew what he was talking about, because when the right-to-be-loud-and-sell-loud-products pro-business lobby set out make it impossible for our elected representatives to regulate noise and, thereby cut into industry profits, they did so under the pretense of accomplishing the exact opposite. That is to say that they pulled a bait-and-switch scam in which, in the name of fighting noise, they took sequential steps over time that ensured that, when all was said and done, effective noise regulation in the U.S. would be impossible. In short, their goal was to cover their trail through a carefully sequenced series of moves, designed to block the free flow of noise-related information while simultaneously fostering confusion and making comprehensive noise management at the local level an impossibility.

The situation inevitably brings to mind the fictional novel 1984, which depicts a government that found it could best keep the nation at war by convincing the people that war is peace. But in 1972 the U.S. Federal government sought to get the American people to accept noise without limit by convincing us that deregulating noise is the same as noise regulation.

How They Worked the Scam

The first step in convincing the American people that noise deregulation is noise regulation was to give their pro-noise legislation an anti-noise name. So when in the early 1970's, the lobbyists gave the politicians their marching orders, they called their new pro-noise legislation the Noise Control Act of 1972, which clearly implied that the intent of the legislation was to control noise, as opposed to its actual purpose, which was to serve as the first step in bringing an end to effective noise regulation. Click here to download a copy of the Noise Control Act of 1972.

In the first phase of the scam, there actually were some anti-noise elements built into the deception. For one thing, in the Noise Control Act of 1972, the U.S. Congress officially recognized for the first time that noise is a dangerous pathogen that needs to be controlled, and they went on to declare that, "it is the policy of the United States to promote an environment for all Americans that is free from noise . . ."

At that time and at the direction of pro-noise lobbyists, congress also created the Office of Noise Abatement Control (ONAC), whose mission was supposedly to forward the purposes of the Noise Control Act by establishing noise standards, regulating noisy products, fostering research into the effects of noise, and educating the public about noise-related issues.

So on the one hand, the Noise Control Act brought official recognition of the dangers of noise, and stated in no uncertain terms that it is the responsibility of government to protect the populace from those perils, which is good. Also, 1972 saw the creation of ONAC as a regulatory agency which, at least in theory, was a step in the right direction.

On the other hand, the passage of the NCA sowed the seeds of an acoustic catastrophe to come because of what it did not contain, and what it did not do. The NCA did not set a ceiling on the amount of noise the federal government finds acceptable.

Through the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal government did set standards for air pollution. The authorities monitor the air quality, and when it deteriorates to a specified point the government takes certain measures to lower the number of pollutants present in the air we breathe.

However, when they passed the Noise Control Act, congress intentionally declined to set a ceiling on the amount of noise that is allowed to exist on the streets of America and in the homes of the people of this nation. There is some limited protection against dangerous noise levels in some work situations. However, there is no limit to the amount of noise that is permitted to exist on the street, and there is absolutely no ceiling on the amount of externally generated noise that can be force-fed into our homes from the outside. However, that's not the end of it. It gets worse.

With the passage of the Noise Control Act of 1972, the federal government assumed sole responsibility for regulating noise generated by any sort of vehicles, equipment, machinery, appliances, or any other product which is somehow involved in interstate commerce. If you think about it, that means the feds took over the regulation of the great majority of everything there is that makes noise.

When I say that the feds took over "sole responsibility," I mean that, thereafter, the agents of state and local government were forbidden to regulate most types of noise, because after the NCA was passed, most types of noise abatement became the purview of the federal government, and the federal government alone.

Under the new arrangement, your local cops can still come out and tell someone to turn down their stereo, or make some moron stop screaming in the street in the middle of the night. And they could craft and enforce laws against barking dogs, if they wanted to. But beyond that, your local authorities are pretty much forbidden to regulate or act against most noise sources.

Anyway, that was the plan as it was misrepresented at the time. By way of the Office of Noise Abatement Control, the federal government would take over the task of noise regulation. Thus, in theory, there would be no need for lesser governmental entities to engage in noise control. Indeed, after 1972 the local branches of government were forbidden to engage in the regulation and management of most types of noise.

Then in 1981, at the insistence of the same special interests who had lobbied the Noise Control Act into existence in the first place, all funding for ONAC was cut. That meant that, as a matter of practicality, the budgetless federal Office of Noise Abatement Control could not, in fact, control any noise or abate anything at all, because they were broke.

It was like something right out of Alice in Wonderland, or perhaps Catch-22 would be the better reference, because thereafter, the federal government couldn't control noise because they didn't have the money. And, of course, the states, the counties, and the cities can't control most types of noise because that became against the law when the feds took over the responsibilities for noise control when the NCA was passed in '72.

It has been said that the Noise Control Act would have been better titled the Lobbyists Bait and Switch Act of 1972, and one can see why, because now it is next to impossible for noise victims to do anything to quiet their personal living space, and there is no one to ride herd on the special interests and ensure the public health when it comes to the acoustic integrity of the environment.

The upshot on all of this is that in the United States, when it comes to noise, of the four branches of government that are charged with the task of protecting the public health, one refuses to do so and the others, by law, are forbidden to do so.

As a result, if you are an American, or you live in some other nation that is similarly afflicted, there is no limit on the amount of noise that can be legally force-fed into your home from the outside, and there is no one regulating the noise makers. In fact, the current plan is to allow the U.S. to go on growing ever louder - forever.

What the corporate lobbyists did for noise in the Bait-and-Switch Act of 1972 was very much like what the bagmen for the giant pharmaceutical companies did for their corporate masters in 2007 to ensure that they would be allowed to continue to gouge the American people with sky-high drug prices. You can learn a great deal about how your right to a quiet home was stolen from you by reading about how your right to affordable prescription drugs was bought out from under you in recent days. Click here to read about this latest sell-out of the public interest, and thereby come to a better understanding of just exactly how your right to live in a quiet home was usurped by way of corporate payoffs to morally-challenged politicians.

For more detail on the great acoustic bait and switch, go to
Shapiro's scholarly article on the Noise Control Act of 1972.

This page is part of the Politics of Noise portion of Section Five:
which is the Activist section of