Saturday, July 30


This distinction between city and country has lasted 2,000 years in Tuscany, despite population growth. Would it last 50 years here?
Property Rights

I have to confess, the only time I've been burned in a comment box in the last... 2 years... was yesterday, mostly over property rights.

Thankfully, because that is not a defined element of faith, no one's "orthodoxy" is at stake, so this is really a pretty laid-back disagreement in that sense. Nonetheless, I'm interested by the question.

Can we really do whatever we want with our property?

Well, obviously in real life the question is no: I can't build a Blockbuster in the Little Woods neighborhood, etc. The goverment has amazing power to tell us what we can or cannot do with it, right down to the basic purpose which I land will have: residential, commercial, industrial, or mixed-use. That's pretty much the most fundamental intrusion into land-use possible.

The government telling us what to do with our land through zoning laws seems pretty much OK to me, since it's the government (and hey, we're the government anyway) deciding what use will (in theory) best suite the general common wealth. And in Thomistic thought, the common wealth is the guiding light.

When we look at Europe, it's managed to retain rolling countryside to an amazing degree--and their population density is MUCH greater than ours. The importance of retaining countryside and farmland -- for the recreational and agricultural needs of the people -- is something, I think, the government ought have some hand in, since the loss of such land is a public detriment. Either way, Europe has been able to pull it off while supporting a much larger population. Maybe Matt, who actually has studied this stuff, would lke to offer us a summary of urban theory :)

Of course, even if this issue of land-use is not ideal--that is, if we are not using the land as we ought to--the culpability doesn't necesarily rest with anyone: it's just how things "developed" as the nation tried to first deal with automobiles and then, subsequently, build its cities centered around automobilies. But certainly no one in particular is a "Bad" person for any of it, and that should be obvious.

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