Friday Rant #3: It's mine, I'll do what I want with it.

2006-08-25 00:00

I recently had a discussion with my father (long car ride) about a local policy that would possibly be implemented. It would enforce (or attempt to enforce) certain standards upon the community with regard to the appearance and maintenance of their property. This law would target people who hoard junk, don’t mow their lawns, or have too many vehicles sitting around in their yard. On the surface the law seems like a good idea; however, government exists not to protect the majority, but to protect everybody. This includes people who want to use their land for growing ‘weeds,’ (There’s no such thing as a weed.) storing scrap, or rusting out cars.I know what the arguments for this law are: increased (or prevention of decreased) property values, a more picturesque neighborhood, and a more pleasant environment for everyone. Except it won’t be. You shouldn’t care about your property value any more than you should care about your credit card interest rate. You don’t need to know in order to live a perfectly satisfactory life, but people will tell you it’s important. (And yes, if you’re stupid enough to carry a balance you might care about your credit card rate. (And yes, I do realize there are good reasons to carry a balance.)) Stop listening to people who tell you what’s important. Would you rather have a bunch of sterile, manicured, freakishly normal people living in your community, or a vibrant, thriving, microcosm of culture? I can’t imagine anyone who would choose the former over the latter is a neighbor I’d want. Let those people live together in their gated communities and suburban neighborhoods. The rest of the world isn’t so naive.The problem isn’t the ’sterile-ists.’ It’s the people who just want a nice place that isn’t overrun with garbage and derelicts that make the difference in this matter. It’s the people who think their peace of mind and clean front lawn make them ever so slightly better than everyone else. The people who, with their unspoken words, say things like, “Your rights should be restricted, because I don’t like what you do. You are a person who can’t be bothered to take care of his own things in a proper way, so we need to force you to conform to what the rest of us think, and damn your rights!” These are the people we need to watch, because what they say sounds much nicer than this, but what they mean is fire and brimstone against those who are not like them.It all comes down to property. If I own something, I can do what I want with it. If I violate laws, I’ll get punished. That’s how it works. This is a Good Thing. The problems start when laws start being passed that simply restrict freedoms (including ownership or property) because others have conflicting ideas of what is ‘proper.’ Every person is entitled to their own beliefs, and every person is entitled to practice their beliefs in any way they see fit, so long as they do not interfere with the rights of others or pose a serious (quantifiable) risk of doing so. The aim of law is protection. Protection of the freedoms of every single person the law affects. In this case, I am arguing for the right to own (truly and freely) property. This may not seem like a very hard fight, but if you’ve understood anything I’ve just ranted about, you know all too well that this is only the beginning of the attacks on ownership in the name of the greater good. It’s not. You know it. I know it. They know it.Get out there and fix it. Now.

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