The Bee Gees, government and the myth of property ownership

By William R. Toler

70s disco icons The Bee Gees aren’t usually considered to be a source of libertarian thought. brunswickcounty_Seal

But a line in the band’s 1977 hit ballad “How Deep is Your Love” recently struck a chord with me: “…we’re just living in a world of fools, breaking us down, when they all should let us be.”

Unfortunately, a lot of those fools wind up in government and think just because some words on paper give them “authority,” they can steal from and force their neighbors to do things they wouldn’t otherwise have any right to do.

Ingrid Larsen is dealing with people like that now.

She was recently handed an eviction notice from a Brunswick County code enforcer for living in a tent in her own yard, as reported by WECT-TV.

10 years ago, Larsen’s Southport home was destroyed when a county pipe burst and filled it with more than 10,000 gallons of raw sewage.

Since then, Larsen settled with the county sanitation district for more than $100,000.

Larsen would like to rebuild but isn’t keen on rejoining the municipal system. She would rather hook up to the existing septic tank on her land.

After filing an exemption to do so, those neighbors in government turned her down.

Larsen says she’d rather go to jail than to give in to their demands, and plans on appealing again next week.

The station reported that “the county has rules about tents only be used at approved campgrounds,” but a search for “tent” through the 422-page Unified Development Ordinance shows no such rule — only those pertaining to the use of tents at campgrounds.

(I welcome anyone to prove me wrong if it exists, but I couldn’t find it.)

Most sensible people would balk at this egregious abuse of power. After all, the ordinance as described by the reporter would prohibit kids from camping out in the back yard.

As much as we libertarians harp on about property rights and land ownership, some of have come to this conclusion: there is no such thing.

If Larsen truly had a right to use her property as she sees fit, she wouldn’t be dealing with this problem.

If property rights existed, then Davie Dawkins wouldn’t have had three rolls of fencing taken by clean-up contractors with marching orders from the Rockingham city planner.

If property rights existed, government wouldn’t seize for the “failure” to pay property taxes.

In reality, the government owns the land and leases it to people who think they own it for a yearly fee. Fail to pay that fee and the government takes it back.

One of my goals in life is to get someone in government to admit that fact on the record.

It’s amazing how those in government feel justified ruining  and running the lives of other people just because they believe they have the authority to do so.

As Lysander Spooner wrote in “A Letter to Grover Cleveland” in 18:

“It is self-evident that no number of men, by conspiring, and calling themselves a government, can acquire any rights whatever over other men, or other men’s property, which they had not before, as individuals. And whenever any number of men, calling themselves a government, do anything to another man, or to his property, which they had no right to do as individuals, they thereby declare themselves trespassers, robbers, or murderers, according to the nature of their acts.”

So, I ask those in government, how deep is your love for your neighbor?

How Deep is Your Love by The Bee Gees







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