Thursday, May 25, 2006

Column on Local Assaults on Property Rights

Local Assaults on Property Rights

Tibor R. Machan

Two reports in the local free monthly newspaper, the Foothills Sentry,
May 9, 2006, are very upsetting to anyone who wants to live in a free
society instead of a dictatorship of bureaucrats. I am sure they are
representative of many other parts of the country, not to mention the

First, there is "Trouble is fomenting in the tight community of Old Town
Orange." It chronicles the way Orange City?s Design Review Committee has
been arbitrarily harassing residents by imposing utterly vague rules only
the members of the Committee understand. (Their instructions are
notoriously unspecific and their rulings routinely violate the principle
"equality under the law" by favoring some while ruling against others.)

This is all in the name of historical preservation, an idea that turns
out to be very selectively implemented. After all, one element of most
government regulations is to impose technologically up to date standards
on those building or remodeling their homes. Historically preserved
buildings must conform but not quite. They must, in short, look old but be

The members of the Design Review Committee, mostly local architects who
love to lord it over Orange City?s residents, really don?t seem to have a
clue as to what they are doing, for whom, why, etc. In justice, of
course, they ought to buy the buildings they wish to control and not
bother others unless they are willing to foot the cost of their so called
historical preservation.

Second, there is the disgusting news in this issue of the Foothills
Sentinel about how the Silverado Ranch Project?involving the building of
12 upscale homes (that might have invigorated the canyon community, such
as helping the little grocery store and the restaurant profitable) in the
canyon where I live?has been crushed by a coalition of various land
grabbers, such as the Rural Canyon Conservation Fund and judges who have
no respect for private property rights at all. Their excuse is to preserve
the Arroyo Toad, which is quite ridiculous.

That toad may well be endangered but so what? Many living beings come and
go in the history of the earth and the fact that people might hasten the
disappearance of some is no excuse to violate their private property
rights. These folks are simply trying to live in peace or make a living by
developing land they purchased decades ago without any warning that the
local bureaucrats will be coming after it when they please to do so. What
these folks don?t get is that human beings come before toads in the scale
of what's important! So if one wants to help the toads, one needs to pay
for this and not sacrifice other people to this ridiculous cause. The
Rural Canyon Conservation Fund ought to live up to its proclaimed
priorities and come up with the money to pay those whose land the
organization has helped render useless to its by now only nominal owners.

Alas, America is no longer the land of the free, that's for sure, if it
has ever been. It is now the land of the outdoor health club fanatics who
use any concocted reason for intruding on other people's lives and
businesses. The one thing none of them will do is pay for what they

In a free country, if one is interested in preserving some region, one
must come up with the funds to buy it and not sic politicians,
bureaucrats, and judges on those who own it. Such taking is immoral and
should be illegal. But our legal system now makes it possible for these
barbarians to just put in a claim in the name of a toad and have the land
all to themselves to do with as they want.

It is not often that I lose my cool but with this bunch I have had it up
to here. I have met quite a few of them, even debated one who is with the
local Sierra Club, and I know they all entertain the preposterous notion
that they can speak for ?the public.? Yet, of course, what they are doing
is ruining the lives of many members of the public, so clearly they are
delusional about speaking for ?the public.?

If these folks had an ounce of honesty about them, they would dig into
their own pockets and further supplement it from voluntary contributions
they themselves would solicit and thus obtain the homes and lands they
want to control. No. Instead, they are depriving others of useful land so
they can have their precious toad or whatever preserved, never mind what
happens to the human beings whose lives have been ruined this way.

Welcome to the land of Thomas Hobbes, where all are at war with all and
the bullies win.

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