The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Inconsistencies in political philosophy...

A keystone of libertarian philosophy is that it is immoral to initiate force or commit fraud to achieve personal or political goals. In the discussion on "Who owns me...?" below, Bill Fleming poses a scenario in which Jack buys a $300k house and Joe moves into a similarly-valued house next door and proceeds to "start trashing his place. Weeds grow, he brings in a bunch of yard junk, people run around half naked in the yard...."

Jack is naturally less than happy. His equity in his house starts to slip because its resale value is damaged by his hillbilly neighbor. Bill asks what the libertarian solution is, assuming correctly that libertarians generally oppose laws limiting one's use of his own property, providing said use does not cause harm to others.

While I think that city/county ordinances governing the appearance of houses and yards are largely too restrictive, Bill has a point in his implication that some actions (or lack thereof) on the part of a homeowner can impact a neighbor negatively. A neighborhood covenant, required to be signed by anyone purchasing a home, provides an avenue to a civil action that could force a homeowner to adhere to certain standards of appearance.

Even in the absence of a covenant or an applicable ordinance, a libertarian solution could include the right to sue a neighbor for allowing his property to degrade to the point that it adversely affects the value of other houses in the neighborhood. In a sense, the hillbilly neighbor is using passive force to harm others.

While that explanation was implicit in some of my part of the interchange between me and Bill, Bill insists, "I will assume there is an inconsistency in the [libertarian] philosophy."

I don't see an inconsistency in the solutions I offered, although I don't argue that the Libertarian platform may contain inconsistencies. I do suggest that they pale next to inconsistencies in the platforms of the Republican and Democratan parties.

If any readers (Bill?) care to try to state a philosophy of their political party, I would like the opportunity to shoot holes in it. Anyone?


Bill Fleming said...

Or maybe he just drills an oil well there, or starts mining uranium. Or raising chickens. Or fixing people's old washing machines and using his yard to store the spare parts. You know something profitable and productive. He makes a bunch of money, so chances are, he can afford better lawyers than the neighbors can.

I bring this up to challenge Rand Paul's assertion that the Government shouldn't have a right to put its foot on BP's neck. My position is, BP should be happy if that's the only place we put it.

Bob Newland said...

What does Rand Paul have to do with anything?

Bill Fleming said...

I thought he and his dad were the leaders of the Libertarian movement. No? Isn't that how this discussion got started? Rand Paul's remarks bout free enterprise and the Civil Rights Amendment?

Anyway, that's what I've been talking about all along, because I thought it was the topic.

Thad Wasson said...

The position that Bill takes is the same one the Republican dominated Meade County Commisioners are taking for the proposed Stagebarn Zone. Only you can stop your neighbor from drilling for oil or operating a feedlot! Vote for this Zone!

You cannot drill for oil on 3 acres of land and if you run cattle, you won't have much to take to market.

More layers of government than layers of beef patties on a Big Mac.

Bob Newland said...

I think you should make more specific reference to "that's what I've been talking about all along, because I thought it was the topic" in your posts.

Ron Paul was the 1988 Libertarian nominee for president. His son, Rand, is a nominee for some obscure US Senate seat. As far as I can tell, each is closer to "libertarian" than most. But neither is a spokesperson for the Libertarian Party, as far as I know.

So, Bill, do you have a simple statement of political philosophy that you'd like to advance?

Bill Fleming said...

Okay, Bob, fair is fair. If you would care to take a whack at my political philosophy now, feel free. It is "All for one, and one for all." AKA "E Pluribus Unum."
Fire away, bro.

Braden said...

Well actually, I think "E Pluribus Unum" means "Of Many, One" but I get what you are saying.

I agree with Bob in the notion that liberal and conservative ideologies are inconsistent, only I think the liberal ideology is purposefully so.

If you'll allow me to speak in generalities: liberals favor big government in national and international areas, while small government in personal matters. So a liberal would favor increased economic regulation, more overseas involvement, yet minimal control over personal choices. Convservatives favor small government in national/economic matters, while greater control over personal (what they call "moral" matters). Historically, they have been non-interventionist, although the modern Republican Party has completely abandoned this. Libertarians favor small government in all areas.

So, while both the liberal and conservative philosophies seem to be inconsistent, this has an explanation. It's all based on what you perceive as the greatest threat to your freedom. For liberals, it's powerful corporations and threats to international peace, hence the need for bigger government in the national and international areas. For conservatives, it seems to be gay people getting married and scary foreigners, hence the need for more government in personal and international areas. Libertarians find big government to be the biggest threat to freedom.

So to sum it up: liberals seek to protect the public from BP and Goldman Sachs; libertarians seek to protect it from the Fed, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and conservatives seek to protect it from Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Simmons.

Bob Newland said...

Braden, thanks for making a comment that makes some sense. It's something that the Forum's most prolific commenter seems to have a problem doing.

Bill: How would "All for One, One for All" solve the problem of the nonbeliever who trashes his house and yard next to your your $300k house?

Bill Fleming said...

Bob, zoning laws.

Bill Fleming said...

Braden, I realize that the Latin idiom is somewhat vague. Mine was an attempt to clarify the meaning of it.

Bill Fleming said...

Interesting that Bob as about as much trouble understanding my political philosophy as i do his.

taco said...

Bob's philosophy makes sense to me. A libertarian believes in freedom to contract. Therefore, if one is concerned about what their neighbor may do that person can choose to purchase a home in a neighborhood with covenants which are enforceable contracts.