no third solution

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You Can’t Fight City Hall

August 12th, 2008

Just, wow.  A few items on the property rights front in recent news.

Recently, the State of Michigan threatened to take away my Driver’s Permission Slip because of a $10 parking ticket.  I had parked, overnight, on the street in front of my house.  It is illegal to do this on any night, because two days out of the entire year a streetsweeper comes by and cleans the curb-line.

But this story takes the cake. In Milwaukee, a man lost his house to a $50 parking ticket. You can’t fight city hall.

Sure, the guy wantonly neglected to pay the penalty on a minor code infraction.  But seriously. If the government can take your house over $50, there is no limit to what it can do. And no amount of reason, apparently, will stop it.

The city foreclosed on the property, and the article says that it cost him his $245,000 house. But the city surely isn’t allowed to profit, are they? I mean, just like a bank can’t sell your house at a Sheriff’s sale and keep proceeds in excess of what you owed on the note, it’s not like the city gets to bank an extra $243k, right?


Says the code enforcer, “If a violation exists, a violation exists. We’re going to enforce a violation.”

And that’s the problem. That’s why you can’t fight city hall.

As long as the zoning board, the city hall, the police departments, are populated by people who’ve never had an original thought, as long as nobody questions whether the penalty is appropriate for the “violation,”  as long as they are willing to enforce any code, merely for the sake of enforcing the code, this is the sort of nonsense that happens, and worse.  Although it doesn’t get much worse than stealing a man’s house.

Oh well.  If you can’t beat them, join them. I guess.

This old lady a few miles from me wants to stall the development of a sports complex because she can see it from her house and doesn’t like the way it looks. She says that none of her neighbors want to see it, either.

Last month she won an injunction against Sail on Investment Co. that temporarily stopped construction. The case is due back in Macomb County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Of course, none of these people were willing to buy the property, when it was (presumably) listed publicly for sale, in order to preserve their vision of the community.  If she has the power to prevent the developer from building something, merely because she doesn’t want to look at it, then it’s at least partially her property.

The developer was required to notify all residents within 300 feet of the new building, they claim that they were never notified, my guess is that the developer is probably allowed to serve this notice in a public forum like a newspaper or other periodical, but maybe he didn’t.  Setting aside a lot of the finer points, the real problem appears that some old lady doesn’t like what her neighbor is doing with his property.

I’m inclined to say, “too bad!”  At some point, you have to draw the line. Sure, the distribution right now is far from perfect, but that doesn’t (IMO) justify using the State to enforce your desires and beliefs on everyone else.



  • stephen says on: August 13, 2008 at 1:51 am


    there’s a great youtube video from stefan molyneux along the lines of that last part. it’s 45 minutes long but worth a watch if anyone is interested.

  • John Petrie says on: August 13, 2008 at 10:47 am


    Maybe the libertarian side of homesteading is on Mrs. Pettine’s side, or maybe I just want her to win because I sympathize with her more than with the city or the construction company.

    The soccer arena clearly diminishes her enjoyment of her property, which she never expected to sit right next to a gigantic soccer arena. If an airport or an oil derrick or some other loud/dirty/polluting thing went up next to her already owned and used property, I would say her right as prior homesteader negated the right of others to build next-door to her and destroy the use and enjoyment of the property that existed when she settled on it and that she expected to continue. Maybe the same argument can be made for an obtrusive and ugly eyesore. I’m torn.

    I think when I get home I’ll watch that Stephan Molyneux video.

  • John Petrie says on: August 13, 2008 at 10:59 am


    Also, this reminds me of a dispute between John Smoltz and then-Falcons quarterback Chris Chandler, who lived next door to each other for a short time in the late 1990’s in my neck of metro Atlanta.

    Smoltz had lived in his house for several years and had a pool in his back yard. Chandler bought the house next door and had an extension built onto the side of it, which created a new shadow over Smoltz’s pool. Smoltz sued Chandler to have the extension taken down, as it eliminated the enjoyment of his pool that had existed when Smoltz bought the house and that he had no reason to expect to go away.

    I don’t think Chandler’s extra construction was ever removed because Smoltz just moved and stopped fighting it. My libertarian nature caused me to side with Smoltz back then and I still side with him 100%.

no third solution

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