It’s just other people’s money.

During her tenure as Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher once said, “[Socialists] always run out of other people’s money.”

I tend to think a lot of people attribute the sort of big government spending she referred to as characteristic of the left-wing in the U.S. So, here’s a fun little anecdote from the other side of the spectrum that works in much the same way.

The uber-conservative leadership in Farmers Branch, a suburb north of Dallas, in 2006 passed an ordinance making it illegal to rent to illegal immigrants. Apartment complexes are by law required to verify citizenship before renting to potential tenants. It’s kind of an old story, one I followed rather closely when I was a reporter because, well, who doesn’t love a story like that?

Anyway, it’s a federal issue, one cities would be ill-advised to get involved in. A U.S. district court already ruled that federal regulations on immigration can only be enforced by the federal government. And yet, the fairly conservative town council is still working to keep that ordinance, the one they crafted to exclude a particular group of people.

That, my friends, is what we call the nanny state. No, the city of Farmers Branch is not the state of Texas or U.S. government. BUT! The city in this ordinance attempted to interject itself into an exchange, a transaction between an apartment complex and a potential tenant. And we know that any time a government agency attempts to interject itself into a mutual agreement between two parties, it’s gonna cost somebody something.

In this case, it’s gonna cost the city of Farmers Branch more than $5 million in legal fees. Check it.