Friday, June 16, 2006

the libertarian divide over the south central farmers issue

There are many examples out there refuting the silly stereotypes and claims regarding libertarians as being all the same. There are many different types of libertarians in reality, and certain issues bring difference of opinion amongst them to the forefront. The most recent example of this involves the plight of the South Central Farmers out in Los Angeles.

I'm sure that liberals and lefties are assuming that all libertarians are siding with Ralph Horowitz, the man who is claiming ownership of the land and is using the city goons to get rid of those pesky farmers. Indeed, there are some libertarians that I am aware of who are indeed taking this position. Examples of this come from Kirsten at Enjoy Every Sandwich and certain people over at the Mises Institute blog.

An assumption that all libertarians would be siding against the farmers would not be true though. The other side of the debate is being defended by some libertarians. Examples here include blog posts by Rad Geek, David at the view from below, along with Brad Spangler's comments in the Mises discussion linked to above.

I don't have the time to spell out my full opinion on this, but I will say that I personally am siding with the farmers, and not just because I love what they've done with the land over the past 14 years.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is also a libertarian debate over this same issue going on at Reason Hit & Run:

4:51 PM  
Blogger Charles Johnson (Rad Geek) said...

Well. There's a debate at Hit and Run, but I don't know about a libertarian one. The debate at Mises at least has to do with the plausible (though mistaken) view that principles of restitution entitle Ralph Horowitz to recover his share of the land. The debate at Hit and Run looks more like Jesse Walker and a couple of others valiantly trying to fend off a bunch of Constitutionalists and liberal Mussolinists, whose "libertarianism" amounts to the principled defense of whatever property entitlements the government happens to be passing around to the propertied classes.

My favorite quote thus far comes from "Ayn Randian:" "But I am really just making the excellent point Woozle’s already made; you can do what you want with owned land, including not making use of it. The only reason anarchos invented this shady 'mixing with labor' was to thwart government title-granting abilities." I just feel like twirling my mustache and cackling maniacally every time I read that.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I thought when I posted that comment I should probably qualify it by using a term like "psuedo-libertarian" or something. But the fact that so many people with so many different ways of looking at things all claim the term "libertarian" was sort of applicable to the theme of freeman's post.

Some of those comments at Hit and Run are the reason I never quite know what to say when someone asks, "What are you, a libertarian or something?"

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and what would you expect from someone that calls themselves "Ayn Randian?"

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, I'm a bit torn. My decision as to whether to support the farmers or not depends on whether Horowitz and his where-are-they-now co-owners actually brought the contentious plot of land into some kind of use; i.e., did they homestead it? This would be back in 86 when the city used ED to call the land its own.

Rad says that even if Horowitz and pals had homesteaded the land (and not all 100% of it, let's remember, so the decision as it stands is injurious to the farmers), theirs and his subsequent actions vis-a-vis the city are tantamount to abandonment. I disagree (though there may be more to learn), but my (very strong) hunch is that the land was lying vacant and unused at the time of the farmers' appropriation. (Except as a quasi-junkyard, but the junk therein had OBVIOUSLY been abandoned!) I've contacted a few folks about my questions...


4:06 PM  
Blogger Brad Spangler said...

If anyone is in LA and can do research on the ground, it appears that the records for the land can be found at the EAST DISTRICT Office of the LA County Assessor, 1190 Durfee Avenue, South El Monte, CA 91733.

UnlessI am mistaken, my research appears to indicate the Assessor ID Numbers for the two plots of land are 5117-021-023 and 5117-021-020.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Brad Spangler said...

By way of explanation, what we'd be looking for would be old tax records for those two lots prior to 1985.

All property tax assessments will contain valuations for both the land AND improvements (buildings, et cetera).

A vacant lot has a valuation of "$0" listed for improvements, of course.

If as far back as records go, improvements are listed as "$0" -- then while that wouldn't be a perfect indication the land had never been homesteaded, it would count as a preponderance of the evidence indicating so.

That, if true, would mean that (at least among Rothbardians) the original official title of Horowitz would have to be discounted as a fraudulent statist fiction.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Ali Massoud said...

The LA land was taken by the LA city government and conveyed to this Horowitz person. That strikes me as wrong for a number of reasons.

In my own business operation I buy standing timber all the time from "absentee" landowners. Am I in the same category as Horowitz? I own land that I don't live on too. Is this land honestly mine?

This is a tough one for me. The LA situation isn't so much. Horowitz used the state power to enrich himself.

I have an elderly neighbor who now lives with his children. I work his land for a fee. Is this theoretically or morally wrong? I dunno.


3:27 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

Thanks for all who have chimed in.


Your reply contains two questions. I don't really have an answer for the first - it's a toughie, and I'm too frazzled and low on time to really think about much right now. I will say that I'm rather agnostic on the subject of property rights theory, and I see value in both Lockean and Ingalls-Tucker conceptions. I'm disinclined at this time to determine one that absolutely suits me, and I'm totally disinclined to reject either one.

I don't see anything wrong with the setup you have going with your neighbor.

Thanks for stopping by!

5:09 PM  

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