Libertarians Are Losing

How do I know libertarians are losing?  Because our local paper can write 396 words on rising "weed complaints" and ensuing city citations for weeds without once even questioning whether the government needs to be enforcing landscape aesthetics.  Here is one local house that is endangering the Republic enough to require government intervention:


  1. CRC:

    While I agree that governmental encroachments on private property rights are legion, I am curious exactly what the libertarian answer is on property usages or actions on one person's private property that could affect the values of adjacent private properties?

    Is this simply a matter of, if you're concerned about such things, you only buy/build into areas that have established (private) covenants among the owners of property in the area to abide by certain rules?

  2. Tim Fowler:

    CRC - I suppose most libertarians would look at this as a manner to be handled by the private sector, whether it private covenants, or home owners associations, or whatever.

    There is a better case for government action when its not just some weeds, but something toxic, or very loud, or horrible smelling, that has a stronger and more direct effect on other properties.

  3. la petite chou chou:

    Weeds are defined as "undesirable plants" but they fail to say to whom. If I prefer plants someone else considers to be weeds, who is the government to say I have to pull them up?


  4. daren:

    I can't believe those people would let weeds grow like that. They should be publicly flogged. Their property should be seized and sold to support the drug war.

  5. Mark Alger:

    Not sure how this is a libertarian issue. Swinging fists (weedy lots) impact innocently-bystanding noses (diminished property values). I don't even see rights in conflict. Do you have a right to use your property in a manner which diminishes the value of your neighbor's. I don't think so. Strikes me as an aggression of sorts.

    Now, first-resort going straight to the government solution DOES sound like a leftist, statist, conflict-averse wimp-out. As opposed to going over and talking to the guy. Maybe offering to help if he's in straitened circumstances. (Of course, we don't know how many of these situations have already (fruitlessly) progressed through that stage.)

    However, that doesn't mean the state should butt out altogether. I kinda see it as that's what the state's FOR -- to resolve otherwise insoluble problems between citizens. One could wish for a more-Solomonic outcome, but what do you expect from bureaucrats?


  6. Rob:

    The underlying debate here is pretty interesting, trying to determine where in gray area that one has stepped on someone else's rights...

    All of ones actions will directly and/or indirectly have an impact on other people. No matter what it is, one could say that my actions have an affect on others. If I don't control weeds in my yard, this is indirectly affecting your property value (directly affecting your value would be to do something directly to your property).

    If the weeds are contained to my property, but affect the sale of your property because other people looking to buy don't like the aesthetics of the surrounding properties, then at what point have I violated your rights? Is there even a 'right' involved? Obviously, this is a slippery slope discussion because one could start arguing that the car you drive (an 85 rust bucket honda) devalues my property. What is the test to determine if my actions are a violation of your rights? I think direct actions are easier to determine, but indirect effects is where the debate lies...

  7. SRC:

    Also, keep in mind the point of this post. The issue isn't even being discussed in the paper. Regardless of where you stand, I think we all find it a bit disheartening these sorts of things are merely accepted as the government's business.

  8. eddie:

    Nobody has a "right" to a high property value. They have a right to sell their property for what the market will bear; they have a right to keep people off their property; they don't have a right to demand that others do things with their own property in order to achieve some particular result in the marketplace.

    I can take out advertisements in the newspaper saying "Don't buy Bob's house! His neighbor is annoying!" That will certainly lower Bob's house's market value. Too bad for Bob. It doesn't give Bob moral authority to stop my advertising campaign or to get the state to do it for him.

  9. la petite chou chou:

    Good points.

    I'd also like to put forth that I would be far, FAR more concerned about a pile of rubble, cars up on blocks on the front "lawn," the house literally falling down---none of which are the case based off the picture above---than a few weeds. Hell, those weeds aren't even that bad. If someone simply mowed over them they would look like little more than patchy grass.

    Frankly, if I was going to buy an adjacent property, the looks of what I see in the picture, barring anything worse outside the scope of the picture, wouldn't deter me at all. Of course I'm not offended by what others do with their own private property...but that's just me.

  10. HTRN:

    The rising number of weed complaints has been noticed by other Phoenix area bloggers - Chris Byrne(Anarchangel) got nailed for it last May. He surmised that it's because of somebody trying to sell a house. The City goes along gleefully, becuase they can get several grand out of it's revenue stre, err, citizens. I'd put money that a hefty percentage of people calling in weed complaints are homeowners either trying to sell a house, or the real estate agent. Considering the Real estate market is in freefall there, anything that could possibly impact the final sale price is scrutinized, and if possible hammered flat.

  11. la petite chou chou:

    I forgot to mention that those weeds in the picture are nice and green (probably greener than most grass down there) and thus are ridding the world of CO2 and producing oxygen. If anything, that should increase property values since the same people who hate private property are those who think we are killing the planet just by being here.