Thursday, January 25, 2007

I Like Trees Too

A recent debate here in Indianapolis has crystallized for me an issue that’s been a pet peeve of mine for many years. Here in our fine city, the old city cemetery is called Crown Hill and it exists in what was once one of the more affluent parts of town. Now, much of those nice old houses are inhabited by low income or a few remaining middle income families. Crown Hill, not surprisingly, is very old. It is also large and has huge upkeep costs. Grounds keeping and maintenance aren’t cheap. The revenue Crown Hill has taken in recently isn’t really covering their bill, because there are not as many people being buried in the old cemetery. Competition has also taken its toll. So, the people who run it have to come up with new funding. They have in the form of a 70 acre parcel of old, wooded land that Crown Hill owns on its northern fringe.

This land can be prime development land, as the area is borderline decent. An affluent neighborhood could form the core of an area revival. It also will destroy most of the 70 acres of trees and habitat that now stands there. This is regrettable. I hate to see that. I like trees. I like wildlife habitat. However, it’s not my land, and unless I think I can get together the scratch to buy it, it’s not my business what happens to it. That’s the way of things. In a society where we allow people to do what they want to their own land, this is what you get. I find nothing wrong with that aspect.

I appear to be in the minority in this opinion. The local left-leaning news weekly and the editorials in the Indianapolis Star have been filled with protests from those who want to see this land preserved from the bulldozer. They are filled with colorful metaphors and fancy phrases that wax eloquent about how there is “another kind of death” at Crown Hill or how more of Mother Nature is being “raped” for the benefit of rich, cognac-swilling, cigar-smoking fat cats.

Their editorials and pontifications always end with calls for civic action. “Well, the city must DO something” and other such calls for government to stop a private land deal fill the media, especially the alternative media. This is the mentality of people who are still dead-set certain that Marx is applicable and can work. It doesn’t matter that it’s never worked to the benefit of the masses anywhere in the world. We just haven’t done it right yet. Part of doing it right, according to this train of thought, is when you don’t like what someone’s doing with their own land, you use the power of government to take it away from them.

Property rights are one of our oldest rights and along with those endowed to us by our Creator, they are pretty important. “A man’s home is his castle” and “the right to be secure in one’s home, effects and property” are indelible and unalterable aspects of who we are and how we define ourselves. If we let government decide what to do with our land, then the tyranny of the minority takes hold. Radical environmentalism is just the latest trend to exercise this principle.

Republican (not the party) ideals of personal freedom and responsibility have no merit if you say that our most fundamental material concern (property) is the “people’s business” and not private business. Not to mention, this power can be used in a grossly corrupt fashion to control any land for any reason, especially if you’re the one who wants to get your hands on it. If you could go back in time and ask the kulaks of the Ukraine under Stalin’s rule, they could have shown you many fine examples of this leftist philosophy in action.

The simple reality of it is this. In our society, my land is mine. It’s not yours. It’s not the government’s. It’s mine. If I want to do anything with it, as long as it doesn’t adversely affect my neighbor, then it’s nobody’s business, but mine. If I want to sell it to a private developer, it is my right. It is also Crown Hill’s right to sell it to who they think will pay the most for it. If these groups and individuals so desperately want to preserve it, they can form a foundation, raise money and buy the land. It’s as simple as that. Of course, that solution is never thought of because it doesn’t entail using “magic money” also known as taxpayer dollars to curtail such a basic capitalist transaction. I like trees too, but I like that everyone can have their liberty even more.


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