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Sunday, May 01, 2005


The Time magazine bloggers of the year at Powerline contribute to a local radio show where I can get a weekly dose of conversational right-wing framing while doing my weekend chores. This show differs from the typical winger show in that it gathers several bloggers together so as to form a mob echo chamber in miniature. The latest show popped a gasket as the host Mitch Berg (not to be confused with the actually funny, but recently deceased local comedian Mitch Hedberg -- "I was not a household name because most of my fans live in apartments") went off on a Minnesota vote to declare its recent conceal and carry gun law as unconstitutional. Ballistic best captures how they felt about the StarTribune's negative editorial support for the current conceal and carry law.

For other reasons, I agree with the Strib and personally do not wish to see a conceal and carry gun law. If as many people seem to believe that the "die off" peak oil scenarios will entail a degree of lawlessness, citizens arming themselves will likely not help us out of our current predicament in the least. Actually I think the imaginative die-off scenarios and certain peak-oil advocates' infatuation with guns has more to do with the high degree of support for NRA-style politics in this country than anything else. And this basically plays off people's unsubstantiated fears.
Strib editorial
Why didn't they bother, and why weren't they worried? Because their passion for the Minnesota Personal Protection Act -- as the bill was so coyly called -- actually had nothing to do with a yearning to keep Minnesotans safe. The real reason for lawmakers' abiding devotion to this bill was fear: Anyone who fought it, lawmakers knew, would become a target of progun groups like the National Rifle Association.
Although the winger Northern Radio Alliance hosts have never acknowledged oil as a serious discussion topic, I can imagine them (eventually) pointing out oil depletion as rationalization for further support of imagined 2nd amendment rights. I do not see much lateral distance between God-given property rights to God-given energy rights, at least from the controlling paternalistic perspective of a right-winger. The scenario of energy drying up may not differ too much from the reaction of someone forced to give away their property or gun. What are guns but a very concentrated and instantly delivered form of energy? To echo a cliche: "I'll give up my (property|guns|gasoline) when you pry my cold dead fingers from it"

Which brings me to following up on my recent post on wind farm development. In comments, Big Gav suggested I visit Helvellyn in the Lake District if I ever get a chance. In fact I have hiked there and this got me thinking about the differences in cultural attitudes between the Americans and British when it comes to property rights of citizens. The reason that I could try climbing Helvellyn wasn't so much because that it resided within the boundaries of Lake District National Park, but that I could because England allows right-of-way access on most rural lands, public or private. We basically shared the shrubbery with the sheared sheep. We could just as easily share the land with some wind mills, or as SW said in the comments to think of it as sacrificing on scenery instead of selling-out on our principles.

In his interesting post, Big Gav describes "a surprising amount of mutual loathing" between American and British passengers during his stay on a cruise ship in the Galapagos Islands. Given the fact that the British have much more tolerance and appreciation for principles such as the law of the commons than the typical American, I can imagine one way loathing can manifest itself on a cruise ship.

As Americans, we really should become less uptight about universal property rights, which left to its own devices encourages lax gun-control laws as citizens wish to protect every last bit of their personal territory. So what do we do when transportation becomes more and more expensive? Can't we also sacrifice as a society and allow safe passage through private property in the USA without a hiker or school kid having second thoughts? And this does not refer to the law of eminent domain by any stretch of the imagination.

To take as an example, I routinely do long runs around the urban areas where I live. Not hesitant to take an interesting diversion if available, I occasionally get yelled at for the most innocuous violation of property rights you can imagine. Simply following a short 10 foot property line to reach some railroad tracks leads leads to frantic wailings from a typical homeowner. This seems like such a trivial thing, but if we can have powerline and now wind powered generators dotting the landscape, why can't we just allow people to travel along the path of least possible resistance? After all, it eventually all boils down to entropy. Let's learn from nature and fly like a crow.

And by the way, what is Internet routing but a British-style system of local network right-of-ways? Where would we be if every other member of the network routing association (NRA) kept yelling "Hey you kids, quit cutting across my Internets!" I don't know about you, but I would probably not be here blogging these thoughts toll-free.


Professor Blogger monkeygrinder said...

"Simply following a short 10 foot property line to reach some railroad tracks leads leads to frantic wailings from a typical homeowner."

On that note, I finally got around to reading Kunstler's "The geography of no where" and it describes the painful transformation of american attitudes over time - interesting read. Kunstler is very opionated, which is always desirable when reading history.

(also readskimmed "Home from nowhere" but I don't recomend that one)

11:05 PM  
Professor Blogger WHT said...

I should get that book.

8:04 PM  

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