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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4819/zoning-is-theft/

Zoning is Theft

March 21, 2006 by

Zoning, writes Jim Fedako, is typically defined along the lines of a government-regulated system of land-usage imposed in order to ensure orderly development. Zoning is usually a component of the larger conceptual ideal called regional planning. Of course, planned development is really the name of the road toward planned chaos. Those who advocate zoning really believe that acting man does not have the ability to create communities that are functional and prosperous. FULL ARTICLE


Paul D March 21, 2006 at 9:52 am

Here in Nagoya, Japan, there is no zoning as far as I can tell; and what a positive difference it makes. Mom-and-pop shops actually have a valuable and lucrative niche here; instead of having to compete with big-box franchises off in the designated retail district, they can set up shop in every neighbourhood alongside their customers. There are more products and services available within a 5-minute walk here than there were within a 10-minute drive back in Canada.

willieT March 21, 2006 at 9:58 am

Houston, Texas has traditionally had little or no zoning. The city has grown and prospered without it. The majority of business developments follow the traditional mold, and the radical property usage feared by the control crowd rarely develops, or if it does, does not last. Urban Renewal is faster, more efficient and cheaper. Old buildings are torn down and new ones built at a much quicker rate than in the traditional zoning towns. This article is correct in its observations.

RH March 21, 2006 at 11:11 am

Hi Austrian folks,

The article is great.
Here in Brazil, you will find one of the most megalomaniac zoning dreams Man ever created: our Capital city – Brasília.
It is based on a delirating project by Oscar Niemeyer – viewed by many academic circles as one of the greatest modern urbanists and architects, in my view just one more inhabitant of the “Marble Towers” of communist bureaucratic elites.
Everything there has overwhelming proportions, intended to make the citizen feel even more insignificant compared with the monumental avenues, public buildings, and the crown’s jewel: the Government “Palace”…
Zoning has gone so insanely deep as to create entire blocks or even regions dealing with ONE kind of subject, for instance: “mechanical workshops sector”, “schools sector”, “hospitals sector” and another equally bizarre stalinistic divisions, leading to an incredible waste of precious time and resources.
The result of this anti-natural approach is fully logical: if you wanted to buy a loaf of bread or anything else, you should drive some miles away from home; if you were unlucky enough to need resolving some banking issues, then go to the supermarket and finally go to your dentist, the day would be definitely lost!!
Thanks God, as the gigantic State-Octopus occasionally sleeps or gives a break, the urbanistic control has slackened a bit here and there along the years, so that nowadays it’s possible, in many districts, to buy some bread and even the newspaper near your home.
But the general idea still remains – segregation of residential, commercial, business, government etc. zones, together with all associated property restrictions, so clearly described in Jim F.’s article.
I sincerely hope no city in the world be “planned” and “designed” like that anymore.
Zoning bureaucrats, get back to where you once belonged!!

Kent Welton March 21, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Zoning is a democratic process, to achieve a better community. The best and most expensive area in the country have the strongest zoning laws. The worst, like Houston, have none.
I’ll take rational zoning, thank you.

Kent Welton March 21, 2006 at 12:54 pm

Zoning is a democratic process, to achieve a better community. The best and most expensive area in the country have the strongest zoning laws. The worst, like Houston, have none.
I’ll take rational zoning, thank you.

Paul Edwards March 21, 2006 at 1:14 pm

“Zoning is a democratic process”. Yes, that’s right: zoning is theft.

Stan Lee March 21, 2006 at 1:15 pm

So Kent, Theft through democracy is ok with you?

Just because people vote on it doesn’t mean it is “Right”.

And the reason you are correct about the property values is that Zoning is an artifical restriction on supply. Its great if you already own property but it is horrible if your looking to buy,

R May March 21, 2006 at 1:40 pm

It may be democratically decided but it positively reinforces transfer-seeking behavior and intentionally erects barriers to entry that discriminate against newcomers. As soon as decision-making enters the democratic process, people with discretionary powers are compelled to use them to favor groups on whose support their powers may depend. Once a land use decision moves out of the domain of the market and into the political arena, there will always be winners and losers. Soon after adoption, the losers begin rallying to do things that will make them tomorrow’s winners. Property owners seek to rezone their properties to increase value. Homeowners and environmentalists lobby to preserve and reserve property, business owners seek to diminish costs, and civic groups advocate their reforms. So there is a costly and never-ending political process of picking tomorrow’s winners and fixing yesterday’s losers. Zoning caught on because less regulatory jurisdictions could easily tolerate pockets of higher restriction. The era of zoning has come full circle but the converse is not true–highly regulatory jurisdictions cannot easily tolerate pockets of lower restriction. I believe the traditional system of zoning is inherently inflexible, will fall prey to the law of requisite demand, and therefore will not survive. Its downfall lies in its reliance on centralized decision-making, limited and simplified information, and the massive opportunity costs borne when people are priced out of moving into or starting a business in a community.

drs March 21, 2006 at 1:48 pm

Zoning laws, like eminent domain and property taxes (all taxes really), are just the state’s way of telling you that you have no property rights. That obnoxious snobs and mercantilist developers make use of these abominations to further their own interests (asthetic or monetary) is merely incidental. The political class will always find a reason to shove you around.

Curt Howland March 21, 2006 at 1:52 pm

“and most expensive area[s] in the country have the strongest zoning laws…”

It’s clear that Kent missed the part about how zoning creates huge overhead costs, or he would realize he’s simply agreeing with the article.

“Best” certainly is subjective. I’ve seen pictures of Brasilia, “sterile” is an understatement and it does remind me of what happens in places zoned “residential” and “commercial” in America.

I lived in Tokyo, and what Paul D. writes is true there too. The Golden Fleece of American planners, the “multi-use high-density structures”, are the rule rather than the exception, but (and here’s what the planners cannot grasp) only because it is possible to open a tiny restaurant, bar or shop, or anything else, into spaces which could never fulfill the myriad of building codes that permeate American government regulation.

I have visitted bars in spaces smaller than my diningroom, with 20 and more people in them, having a great time and good profits. One of the best restaurants in Hiroo is a noodle shop, literally just around the corner (which is a bakery, btw) from the subway station, that isn’t as big as my bedroom! And during lunch time the line outside has many more people waiting than are able to eat at one time inside. People love it!

While I was there, a small property owner near where I was living decided to remodel. They tore down their 3-story shop/apartments, and built a new building 6 or 7 stories high. The same shop with the same people and stuff reopened, but now they had second-story office space, apartments, and room for themselves to live comfortably on the top floor. And all this on a plot of land about the size of my livingroom and dining room combined.

Kent, that’s why your zoning areas are so expensive. Zoning eliminates small, innovative properties at the same time that it prevents large projects just because they offend the social-planning fad of the week.

Zoning and regulation prevent the very innovation and imaginative use of the land-space that create the opportunity for multi-use high-density living to thrive and make people happy in the process.

It is pathetic that the planners, who decry strip-malls, cannot understand that they created the conditions for strip-malls to thrive in the first place with their regulations. Mises’ “intervention causes intervention ad infinitum” in action.

Lisa Casanova March 21, 2006 at 1:54 pm

A relative of mine was a CPA who did books in our hometown for a number of businessman. He was told by some who’d done business with the local zoning board that if you wanted zoning decisions to go your way, envelopes full of cash would do it. Very democratic.

Paul Marks March 21, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Of course the majority do not have the right to rob – but zoning is not really “democratic” anyway.

The people of a town do not tend to be asked “should Mrs Smith be allowed to open a shop in her house to sell goods to people in her area?”

Politicians or administrators decide – either on the basis of who has bribed them, or according to arbitrary and irational rules.

“But the people elect the politicians and the politicians can hire and fire the administrators – so everything is under democratic control”.

If there is really anyone left who believes such stuff, there is a big bridge in New York City that I would like to sell to them.

As for Houston: The main problem (from a “why does it not look nice” point of view) is the impact of the road system – and that is a govenment thing.

Without government road building programs “urban sprawl” would not be a problem.

There would be a mixture of private roads and mass transit systems – and development would be more sensible.

Paul Edwards March 21, 2006 at 4:10 pm

Good points above that what “democracy” amounts to in practice is some form of corrupt oligarchy; a small group of influence peddlers making sly deals with their favorite highest bidders. Democracy in practice is as corrupt as it is in theory. Although the details between practice and theory are different, it’s theft and fraud how ever you slice it.

Evans Munyemesha March 21, 2006 at 6:10 pm

‘Zoning is a democratic process, to achieve a better community.’

It is foolish for suppossedly learned gentlemen to still believe in the ghost of democracy.

Gavin March 21, 2006 at 7:39 pm

If anarcho-captialism is reached, what ensures that statism won’t arise again?

Dennis Sperduto March 21, 2006 at 7:52 pm

P.J. O’Rourke (whom I am not sure should be labeled a Libertarian or Classical Liberal) had this to say about democracy on page 232 of his book “Parliament of Whores”: “The whole idea of our government is this: If enough people get together and act in concert, they can take something and not pay for it.” While this statement is not intellectually sophisticated, it does accurately and succinctly describe democracy. And, unfortunately, this is the system that the vast majority of individuals believe is economically rational and morally just.

The Economist March 21, 2006 at 8:28 pm

“Zoning is a democratic process, to achieve a better community.”

The original purpose of zoning was for “hygiene” though, not better community. It’s obvious how that worked out, both for hygiene and the community.

averros March 21, 2006 at 9:29 pm

Gavin –

If anarcho-captialism is reached, what ensures that statism won’t arise again?

This is one of the most important unanswered questions.

There are two ways for an AC society to be converted back to a State: conquest by a militatized state and spontaneous formation of an indigenous kleptocracy.

The defense of an anarchistic society from a conquest is kind of hard because military is the extreme case of economis of scale: the bigger and better-armed force takes everything. States can use compulsion to concentrate manpower and resources to mount an invasion, while anarchistic society will have to rely on voluntary contributions, with some part of population freeloading. There are reasons for hope, though: first, defenders always have a significant advantage over invaders; second, a free society is expected to be significantly more productive, and thus able to afford better army, and, third, voluntary defenders will absolutely have much higher morale than invaders. Another, commonly overlooked, advantage is that, unlike the conventional military, the anarchistic defenders are able to engage in all sorts of asymmetric warfare and are not constrained by the cognitive abilities of the central commanders.

The second way (formation of a kleptocracy) is ideological: presently, the irrational belief in the necessity of compulsion for existence of a peaceful society is very strong. As long as this belief holds a significant portion of population, there is nothing to prevent the kleptocracy from arising – there’s no shortage of criminals willing to exploit this belief to their advantage.

However, the development of the Internet have shaken the state monopoly on information, and allowed general population to become exposed to the anarcho-capitalist ideas. The growing readership of this site is an example that these ideas do have a significant growth potential, and that the ability of States to feed misinformation to the subjects in order to cause them to support their governments is greatly diminished.

With a significant portion of a population being adhevernts of individualist ethics, the prospective kleptocrats don’t have a chance – they’ll be laughed away everytime they try to pull the collectivist wool over the eyes of people, or, if they try to raise to the power by force, will be hunted and shot, just like any other criminals.

So, yes, it boils down to the enlightened self-interest of the people. And, currently, we have something which is absolutely necessary for the ability of the AC society to survive: the Internet, which prevents any party from being able to monopolise access to information. And (in US, at least) we have guns, which allow us to organize non-monopolistic protection.

The only thing which is missing for a stable AC society is clarity in the minds of currently brainwashed people.

Paul Edwards March 22, 2006 at 1:04 am

Well said averros,

Also, i don’t think the significance of competitive free market insurance, re-insurance and their affiliated military, intelligence and assassination organizations can be over-emphasized.

Bumbling state militaries, as well funded as they might be, will be out-classed by their private free market opponents in many ways including competence, effectiveness, and efficiency. While states will be looking for non-existent centralized target to hit with its formal military, private insurance companies will have multiple assassination contracts out on the top military and political leaders of the aggressing state. Heads of states are fools, yes, but also they are as much cowards. When they know that it is their necks on the line as much as the luckless army grunts, they’ll refocus their attention on their own present subjects and territory rather than risk their life expanding them into dangerous territories under anarchy.

There’s hope for anarchy in terms of its ability to be defended from state aggression. As for how people can protect themselves from statist inclinations: start out stateless, and never ever entertain the foolish thought of allowing the state to educate your children. Teach the children about liberty, justice and the costs of egalitarianism and the immoral state.

N. Joseph Potts March 22, 2006 at 8:59 am

More from P. J. O’Rourke (also Parliament of Whores, I believe): the final words of the book:

Government is immoral.

O’Rourke is a libertarian of the first order.

Gavin March 22, 2006 at 11:09 am

What do you think of Schumpeter’s analysis that capitalist states always evolve into socialism, because they always produce an educated class that attacks the very system that produced them. I think that was his thesis in one of his books.

Gavin March 22, 2006 at 11:09 am

What do you think of Schumpeter’s analysis that capitalist states always evolve into socialism, because they always produce an educated class that attacks the very system that produced them. I think that was his thesis in one of his books.

billwald March 22, 2006 at 11:49 am

Zoning lowers the value of the land and increases the value of existing structures and businesses.

quincunx March 22, 2006 at 12:24 pm

Gavin, most intellectuals are heavily subsidized. Get rid of the state – and the pace will be slowed to a crawl.

Minarchism will evole to socialism faster than anarcho-capitalism, since the institution of force is already in place.

Paul Edwards March 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm

I agree quincunx. Because minarchism is intellectually inconsistent, those living under it have lost to the socialists before they even get started. They have supposed that the coercive state can provide protection while ignoring that it is the inherently aggressive and coercive nature of the state that makes it unsuitable for providing protection in the first place. Once the faulty reasoning that leads to this incorrect conclusion takes hold of the people, the socialism that follows is unavoidable.

Reactionary March 22, 2006 at 12:56 pm

Excellent points, Paul D. Subsidized roads and zoning have been awful in their effects. There are no less than six enormous state and federal highways circling and snaking thru metro Atlanta area, all eternally clogged with people driving from residential to commercial zones and back. The commercial zones obviously favor the business model of national chains and their Big Box stores rather than local business.

Gavin March 22, 2006 at 1:06 pm

Does anyone here agree with Walter Block, when he says that Rothbard was inconsistent about suicide and slavery? That is, Rothbard acknowledged that a person had a right to kill themselves, but, not a right to sell themselves into slavery because they would be giving up their freewill. But, isn’t suicide the ultimate irrevocable decision and destruction of freewill.
I don’t know where else to post this, because I’m new, so I picked a recent blog entry.

Dr. Bruce M. Firestone March 22, 2006 at 1:15 pm

The best cities and towns seem to self-organize; they tend to grow ‘organically’ without having to resort to anything more than reliance on fire and building codes. As James Howard Kuntsler advised: “Burn all the zoning codes”.

Reactionary March 22, 2006 at 1:48 pm

“The only thing which is missing for a stable AC society is clarity in the minds of currently brainwashed people.”

Obviously then, a stable AC society will have to practice ruthless discrimination in order to maintain its character.

Paul Edwards March 22, 2006 at 1:48 pm


I disagree with Block in this unusual case.

The way i look at it is this: if the slave changes his mind and doesn’t want to be a slave anymore, is he justified in refusing to be a slave? Yes, he is. Is his master justified in using force to keep him his slave? Nope. Up until the point the slave chose not to be a slave, the arrangement was voluntary. At the point of the slave’s change of heart and beyond, the relationship would be coercive. Where does libertarianism stand on coercion?

But the question comes up over the initial payment and contracting for the slave services. I think a court would possibly need to come into play to determine what the fair remuneration to the master would be for breach of contract. And it is conceivable that if the slave can’t pay the restitution (or no one comes up with the redemption price), he’s a slave again anyways. But at least now that’s because he is a criminal, and not because he gave up his liberty by decree.

The central point of it is, i think, that you can’t give away your right to your self by decree, you really have to actually give it up by aggressing against another party severely enough that it can result in losing this right. This is because no one is ever justified in using coercion.

This isn’t one of the easy questions.

On suicide, I think that Rothbard and Block agreed that suicide was a right, so there isn’t much controversy there, between them at least. The difference is that with suicide, up until your death, you have a right to do what you want with your property (body), in slavery, someone has the right to enslave you, although you never aggressed against anyone. The two do not seem the same to me.

Sione March 22, 2006 at 1:57 pm

And there’s this quote from “The Godfather”:-

Government is crime.

ns March 22, 2006 at 2:39 pm

Zoning is Theft?

No, zoning is vandalism – you still have the title, but can’t use “your” property in some way. Eminent domain is theft.

And – why is no one comparing zoning with IP laws?

Zoning: you have a house, but can’t rent it out.

IP: you have a computer, but can’t use it for …

averros March 22, 2006 at 3:47 pm

Reactionary –

The only thing which is missing for a stable AC society is clarity in the minds of currently brainwashed people.”

Obviously then, a stable AC society will have to practice ruthless discrimination in order to maintain its character.

That’s obvious only to those of your ilk, who do practice the brainwashing and demagoguery today, – as your remark itself demonstrates. People tend to judge intentions of others by imagining what they themselves would do, so here you are.

Knowledge is not imparted by ruthless discrimination, sorry. And, besides, discrimination against thieves and frauds can hardly be called evil.

averros March 22, 2006 at 4:13 pm

Gavin –

I think Rothbard is inconsistent in claiming that voluntary slavery is against the libertarian principles.

I do know people who gave themselves to slavery, and are perfectly happy with their decision — because they feel that what they get in return is more valuable than their freedom. Check out the “24/7″ or “TPE” in the BDSM sub-culture.

There’s a lot of difference between coercion one has agreed to and non-consensual coercion.

Besides, there’s always a simple scenario – let’s say I urgently need a very expensive medical treatment, and have no insurance covering it, and no money to pay for it. I find a benefactor which says – oh, well, I’ll pay for it, in exchange for being my slave for the rest of your life, meaning you do what I tell you to do, and if you don’t I can punish you.

Does anyone seriously propose that I should have no right to agree to these conditions? I may value my life more than my freedom. In fact, I make that choice every time I comply with a demand by a state thug, and so does everyone on this list.

Reactionary March 22, 2006 at 5:22 pm


The majority of people are not clear-thinking Austrian economists. The majority of people are boobs who want something for nothing and make decisions on a very umbilical level. The welfare-warfare state exists because the majority of people are quite content with it.

Therefore, to preserve its character, an AC society will have to discriminate ruthlessly in favor of like-minded individuals or suffer the fate of all liberal societies.

Paul Edwards March 22, 2006 at 5:49 pm

Yeah, I think averros misread your meaning a little, Reactionary. I agree with your point, now that i’m sure it was your point. Anarchists living under libertarian covenants would have to be diligent to jealously guard against infiltration of vocal socialists and others whose purposes conflict with that of the covenant. Definitely.

Paul Edwards March 22, 2006 at 5:50 pm

that’s “by” rather than “of”.

Paul Edwards March 22, 2006 at 5:59 pm


“Does anyone seriously propose that I should have no right to agree to these conditions?”

I agree with you that one has the right to agree to such conditions. However, the question that arises later is can the slave be justified in breaking out of the agreement, or is the slave-owner justified in coercing the slave to remain a slave against his will. I think the answer is contained in how Stephan Kinsella addresses the general question of how contracts are enforced:

“…in modern legal systems, there is almost never enforcement of contractual obligations “to do” things. The primary enforcement mechanism utilized is to order the party in breach of contract to pay money damages to the other party, not to perform the promised service. The inability to “enforce” promises in today’s legal system has not resulted in the death of contract.”


It strikes me that if a paint contractor fails to paint your house, damages are awarded to you and that is the end of it. They are not forced to paint your house if they don’t want to. It seems reasonable that this should apply to one’s contractual slave as well.

m March 22, 2006 at 6:59 pm


Anthony G March 22, 2006 at 8:55 pm

This article made me laugh. Sure no zoing works well withing some therotical framework, but who wants to live in a city with no zoning? Chicago had little or no zoning before the it burned, and thank goodness it burned. If it were not for zoning and the forsight of some wealthy elite, Chicago would not be a world class city today with miles of public lakefront; it would be a dump, like Houston. Furthermore, I want to see the how happy you will be when you build your house and somebody comes along and builds a skyscraper next to you and blocks your view and reduces your property value. There is a reason why zoning happens. People don’t want live near sewage treatment facilites, porn shacks, and bars for obvious reasons.

Gavin March 22, 2006 at 10:15 pm

I thank you for answering my questions. Is ‘libertarianism’ as a political/economic philosophy purely amoral in the sense that it only deals with the exchange relations between individuals? That is, libertarianism has nothing to say, for example, about whether I should love my wife, children, or parents, or whether I should hate them. It only says, I should not agress on them and kill them without just cause, right?

Second question. Thomas Hobbes was famous for saying man is a beast to man, or a wolf to his fellow man, and, that this justify involuntary coercive government. Now, isn’t this a strange notion. Because, if men are inherently, selfish, brutish, and violent (I think Mises says something about this in his chapter on human society in Human Action, but, also saying, that society is what causes man to be civilized, or someting of that agreeable nature), then wouldn’t that be a good reason to avoid giving either monarchs, aristocrats, or the ‘people’ involuntary control over other peoples life. Though many people here may not agree with most of what C.S. Lewis wrote, he did write something that I think has truth to it. “I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man … Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.” Ofcourse, I think he probably meant democrat in a different sense then what we understand. Any comments. Thank you for your help and discussion.

sloppy March 23, 2006 at 2:56 am

“I want to see the how happy you will be when you build your house and somebody comes along and builds a skyscraper next to you and blocks your view and reduces your property value. ”

I will laugh when someone offers you $1bn to build a skyscraper on your property but the local zoning committee declines your application. Too bad you have to settle for less :(

I think some people forget transactions go BOTH WAYS as in there are two people with opposing interests.

Reactionary March 23, 2006 at 7:48 am


The unintended consequence of zoning (and as the choir knows, there are always unintended consequences) are traffic congestion and smog, net zeroes in terms of living standards. At least a factory produces jobs and useful goods.

Zoning has virtually eliminated the sole proprietor’s neighborhood pub in the U.S., with the result that drunks get in their cars and drive instead of peacefully walking home. This is just one example.

In the absence of zoning, the common law and the real estate industry work quite well to segregate land compatibly among property owners.

David White March 23, 2006 at 8:45 am


“Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? … Let history answer this question.”

– Thomas Jefferson

As for zoning, take it away but leave the state, and “zoning” will still be in effect. After all, what else are territorial monopolies on the use of force but “coercion zones”?

Paul D March 23, 2006 at 9:10 am

“There is a reason why zoning happens. People don’t want live near sewage treatment facilites, porn shacks, and bars for obvious reasons.”

I suspect you didn’t read many of the comments before your own, Anthony, which cited real-world examples of places that thrive for their lack of zoning.

In my city, where there is no zoning, no one lives next to sewage facilities or porn shacks. There are, however, two bars on every block — thriving mom-and-pop operations with well-mannered, respectable clientele, instead of seedy joints relegated to downtown ghettos because of license and zoning requirements.

People and businesses tend to like living and locating where they’re wanted, and where they can form communities. The entire premise of zoning is to prevent this from occurring — to prevent people and businesses from locating where they otherwise would prefer to.

billwald March 23, 2006 at 9:54 am

Prior to zoning the (rich) people were protected by the “other side of the tracks” concept just as prior to ’64 white neighborhoods were protected by “red lining.” The very small middle class lived with the rich people and the working class lived on the wrong side of the tracks.

tz March 23, 2006 at 10:40 am

How is zoning differnet from restrictive covenants, other than the ex-post-facto nature.

Zoning is a taking, but isn’t private taking just as bad?.

Lets say a farmer owns a large tract which a developer wants. The developer may have to get a zoning variance, but then might sell a lot to me. In the absence of zoning, he won’t actually sell me the lot. I will get something more like a perpetual rental, since the contract will tell me I can’t build a business or do other things. If I don’t agree to the restrictions, he won’t sell it to me.

But if I can’t dispose of or use the property in any way I choose, in what way can I be said to own it? Where did the right to build a business on the property disappear to? How can it be reclaimed? What if the times change and my house sits on a lot that would be more valuable as something else.

I suppose I’m more the libertarian here since I don’t say you can trade your rights away. You can sign a perpetual, one-time-fee, limited use, transferable contract for a property, but if you don’t have the right to do anything the original owner did (the first recognized owner at the time it went from the public domain to be claimed), you don’t own the property in the proper sense of the word. (Note that in case of a tort, liability can be transferred, but if the current leasee can’t pay, the actual owner might still be liable, so the distinction isn’t trivial or semantic).

That is as much an attack on liberty and property as what the state does. Which is why things like Molyneaux’s private DRO Big-Brother, you can’t ride a bus without an ID card world is as much an evil as the Britian in V. My only confusion is why there have been so few that have denounced private, market, far more efficient tyranny.

Paul Edwards March 23, 2006 at 11:36 am

“How is zoning differnet from restrictive covenants…?”


The difference is those who enter a covenant do so voluntarily on an individual basis as they explicitly enter a contract with others to restrict themselves in a certain mutually beneficial way.

Those who get zoned get it against their will, coercively by a violent aggressor who steals from them and initiates force to enforce its arbitrary and unjust decrees.

Do those two situations really seem the same to you? I’m not completely sure where you’re going with your argument. Is your ultimate point that zoning is OK, because it is no worse than voluntary covenants, or is it that voluntary covenants are NOT ok because they are just as bad as coercive zoning bylaws?

It seems to me you are more likely to be in the camp of the former, arguing that zoning is fine and that states can zone us more judiciously than we can govern ourselves via voluntary covenants. Or are you for anarchy without benefit of private contract law?

dan Anderson March 23, 2006 at 3:37 pm

I live in New York state. I want to live in an area where the zoning is 4+ acres. The more the better. After all, do you want Yonkers or Bedford. Be real.

tz March 23, 2006 at 3:53 pm

You don’t OWN property that has ANY covenant, at least if “ownership” is to mean anything. If I can restrict your right to use property I sell to you by contract, and you claim to “own” the property even though legally you can’t (for example) conduct business on that property, then zoning that equally restricts your right to conduct business in the same way cannot affect your “ownership”.

If “owning” property means something other than that I can do with it anything with it (that isn’t actionably harmful to others), what does it mean.

If liberty is precious, then giving it away or selling it to other private parties is not that much less evil than giving it away to the state, or being coerced in some way to give it away (economically or by threat of violence).

My point is that both are evil, yet some libertarians will argue approvingly for the private destruction of liberty. And this is a case in point.

And if you don’t transfer me plenary rights to property, I don’t “own” it as I don’t have liberty to do things any owner can legally do. You still own the property, whatever you want to call the transfer paper. It is not a deed or good title, it is a lease agreement.

Private contract law cannot change 2+2=4 although you can write something that says you are purchasing two items at two dollars but paying a total of five dollars. That is blatant nonsense.

You can also write a contract transferring ownership and yet attempt to transfer only some rights. But then my question attaches. You can either build a residence or a business. You contract with me such that I can only build a residence. Who now has the right to build a business? Has that right disappeared, or do you retain it? Either you’ve kept something back, or 2+2 now equals 3 in this contract, but how could we contract to destroy a fundamental right or liberty?

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