Imagine having the power to declare something legitimate with the stroke of a pen, the press of a stamp, or the enter button on your keyboard.
The government has that power. But it is part of the magical myth of government legitimacy. That is the main service government provides: legitimacy.
It can make stealing legitimate. It can make kidnapping legitimate. It can make assassinations, genocides, and wars legitimate.
And the government can also make housing deeds legitimate. They do the official processing to make sure that everything is in order. In their sacred temple of city hall, they bless the official papers with holy stamps, and all is right.
Except when it's not.
New York City approved fraudulent papers which allowed a man to "officially" steal a woman's house.
The forged deed was homemade, but the city government still processed it. They said stopping the fake deed from being processed would have been like finding a needle in a haystack. It sounds pretty easy to steal someone's property with forged documents using the government's system of verification.
After years of effort, the woman, Jennifer Merin, was finally able to hold the man accountable. He is now serving a year in prison.
But holding the city accountable is another story.