Saturday, September 05, 2009

the erosion of property rights, nantucket style

Not much that happens 'round these parts can really get me worked up anymore. This whole state is a laughingstock when it comes to just about all civic and political issues. Is there any "progressive" or "populist" idea Hackachusetts is not battling California to lead the charge on? Anything from subsidized health care to handouts to identity politics to rapidly increasing taxes to other ideas we haven't even heard about yet, it's there. Accountability and restraint at the top is a completely foreign concept up here, in which there is very little hope of people ever caring to even challenge much less change the status quo of ever-oppressive government--after all, the masses here would have overwhelmingly voted that pompous hypocrite Teddy K back to the Senate for another 300 years if given the opportunity. A real inspiration for hope, that.

Anyway, now that the obligatory rant is out of the way, on to something from the "rich people quibbling with other rich people" files that is actually so absurdly wrong and against the ideal of freedom that it caught my attention even in Hackachusetts. As this article details, apparently the concept of "private property" doesn't apply if that property deeded to you happens to be a beach on Nantucket.

Some waterfront property owners on Nantucket don't want vehicles on their front yard (i.e. beach) and so have succeeded in getting them prohibited. Fair enough, right? Your property, your rights, your responsibility to protect and preserve, your call. In the same way that someone living near a stadium wouldn't want a fan driving up and parking on their front lawn to go to a football game, or a rural property owner wouldn't want ATVs crawling through his woods and fields, or a riverfront property owner wouldn't want unannounced crowds paddling in with all their junk and camping on his land (or driving across his land to get there either, come to think of it), these folks don't want cars driving up and parking--or worse--right smack in the middle of their beach. I fail to see a problem with the logic here; this seems cut and dry to me.

Well, enter the sensibilities of throngs of beachgoers. Unhappy that their cars and trucks and SUVs are no longer welcome on property that isn't theirs, the masses have resorted to an all-too-familiar approach: cry to the government--via eminent domain in this case--to strong-arm those you disagree with into submitting to your concept of "fair." Never mind that the vacationer types still have reasonable access* to the beach and can still bring all of their beach party necessities, even pets, with them. No cars doesn't mean no people or no access, after all. They can still swim, picnic, bury themselves in sand, and do all those other fun summer things that come with being at a beach. They just can't drive right up on the sand to avoid walking more than 10 feet to get there. If you ask me, the property owners are being plenty reasonable in still allowing more or less open use of their property. And they're being reasonable in expecting that those using it respect and preserve it as well.

Moreover, the property owners are even accepting some risk and giving some ground (no pun intended) here. More people means more crowds, more noise, more trash, more disturbance of the natural environment, etc. These owners can't limit who treads on their sand so they just have to accept the disrespectful folks with the decent ones. But it's not hard to understand their desire to limit the wild parties vehicles help to enable, or the damage to the beach by the vehicle's mere crossing of it, or the leftover debris from a bonfire party, or the other things that a few drivers would no doubt bring with them. Go landowners!

Now forget about the property rights angle for a sec. A lot can be said here about the nature and shiftlessness of people who would drive right up to their beach spot. Come on, people, is it too much to ask that if you want to get to a beach then you take off your shoes, get off your arse, and walk a little? If you want to get to your favorite fishing hole, how about just parking and walking with your pole and box to where you want to be? You know, people were fishing and sunbathing and swimming and picnicing and frolicking about all along the beach well before the advent of the automobile. Do you bums think they got there by just flying or teleporting in? No, they walked. Heck, I bet they even carried stuff with their hands and arms too! They did have to get off their horses every now and then, you know. Those poor souls! The lazy, spoiled nature of some people is just pitiful.** Three cheers for that celebrated aspect of American culture.

So, not only are people lazy and unwilling to put themselves through some minimal physical exertion to get to their reward, but they also think it's just swell for the government to step in and enforce what they would get busted for doing on their own. I don't know which is worse, the masses that clamor for such bullying and theft of rights or the public officials that go along with it. The stupidity of the government is merely a reflection of the stupidity of those electing and supporting it.


* Even this kind of access would bother me were I a homeowner there. I don't know the ins and outs but I get the impression that people basically can't be prohibited from hanging out on your beach. So in what way can a homeowner even attempt to control the crowds on his beach? I guess that's something you have to understand going in if you buy a house there. But that in itself is a problem I'll certainly never have to deal with, so I'm more concerned with the repercussions it could have in the world of us common folk.

** It's worth noting that it takes an especially large excess of laziness for someone as lazy as me to be able to poke fun at it. I'm not some marathoner or anything. But heck, even I'm willing to get up and walk for a little every now and then, especially on vacation. The more I think about their sloth the more these spoiled beachgoer types really make me sick.


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