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The Libertarian Dilemma

Friday, February 17, 2017 12:57
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Automobiles, Motorcycles and Libertarian Politics

Not in my Backyard!

But what about when it’s in your neighbor’s back yard? What is the Libertarian attitude – and response – toward something you don’t like being built on someone else’s property?

The question contains its own answer.

It’s one I had to come face to face with recently, too. Proof of my Libertarian pudding, you might say. I think I passed. You tell me – and then tell me how you’d react.

Here’s the set-up:

I moved to a rural area, one with just one stoplight in the whole county – and no zoning laws, if you can imagine such a thing still exists anywhere in America today.

It is not necessary to supplicate the local Gertrude Schlotz-Klink before one is allowed to build a shed, or put a roof your house or cut a tree down on one’s own property. You can do literally whatever you want to do with any tree that’s on your property.

Italics added for the necessary emphasis.

Shoot the tree, if you like. Paint it red, drive a truck into it. Carve it into a 50 foot high Trump (or Hillary) statue.

So long as it’s on your property, it is considered – rightly – your tree. Do with it as you see fit.

Do with your land as you see fit.

Including sell it to someone who may do something some of your neighbors may not exactly like with it.

Such as sell to an evil corporation – Dollar General, in this case – and subject your soon-to-be ex-neighbors to Grubby Commerce or some other such.

Things change – and sometimes, not the way we want them to.

Like the fact that there will soon be a Dollar General store about a mile down the road from me. Ugh. It will be the first corporate commercial presence within literally a dozen miles of my place and without question it will change the area’s character in ways that may benefit some but will absolutely annoy others – including me.

Neither consideration being actionable – insofar as taking action against others. As by appealing to the government to thwart the building of the store, for instance.

If you’re a Libertarian – and practice your espoused principles.

As a Libertarian, I have the option to move. Or stay – and accept the changing topography.

Do I like that there will be what – to me – is an ugly, low-rent, box store purveyor of container-shipped cheap Chinese crap just a mile down the road from me? That traffic (and noise) will almost certainly increase? That “the element” – people I’d rather not see or have to interact with – will now be attracted to my general vicinity?


It makes my teeth hurt.

I am saddened to see the rural/local character of my little hamlet changing. I am selfishly annoyed by the coming of what, to me, is something as unwanted. I moved to here to get away from everything the Dollar Store represents. I had hoped to never see box store bleakness again, unless I drove a dozen or more miles down the road.

I worry that the presence of this latter-day KMart only a mile away will decrease the value of my place – leaving aside intangible quality of life/aesthetic considerations.

There goes the neighborhood.

I also worry that its presence may increase the value of my place – as the area becomes more agreeable to “city” types who up to now wouldn’t want to live out here because it’s too far away from everything and not convenient.

Now it will be more so.

My taxes may go up.


Worst case – from my point of view – the Dollar General will succeed. And that success will cause more interest in commercial development and that will in time turn this area into the very thing I moved 240 miles down the road to get away from: A replication of Northern Virginia.

That really makes my teeth hurt.

But I won’t join some of my neighbors in the rictus cry of authoritarian collectivism: There ought to be a law!

Specifically, zoning laws.

That is the reaction (and intention) of  several people I know who are – like me – not happy about the General but – unlike me – are willing to throw the concept of property rights in the Woods.

The danger of this ought to be apparent – but it makes no impression.

If zoning laws are passed limiting to whom (and for what purpose) X may sell his property and for what purpose,  it follows inevitably that Y and Z will be encumbered by a roster of additional restrictions, relentlessly expanding, until the once surprisingly free rural southern Virginia community becomes as suffocatingly corseted as any Northern Virginia suburb.

Gertrude Schlotz-Klink slouches toward Bethlehem . . .

Forget cutting down your tree. There will no longer be any such thing as your tree – whether (nominally) on “your” property or not. No more sheds without permission. And firing off a gun in the backyard? Might as well put the SWAT team on speed dial now.

You’ll continue to pay the mortgage – and the property taxes – but your neighbors, as expressed and enforced via Schlotz-Klink, will determine how you’re allowed to use “your” land.

No thanks. Give me Dollar General instead.

Or rather, give me liberty – and respect for my property rights. In return, I promise to respect the property rights of my neighbors, even when I am not pleased with what they’ve decided to do with their property.

Italics added, again.

For what, by now, ought to be obvious reasons.

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The post The Libertarian Dilemma appeared first on EPautos – Libertarian Car Talk.


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