Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Open space

Thomas Sowell has written another excellent article, this time concerning the topic of open space.

About ten years ago, a subdivision was constructed near my house. News reports at the time stated that the project would include open space, which would be left natural and undeveloped. At the time, I thought this was a good idea. Why not preserve some nature along with development?

What happened? The development is complete, but the "open space" is a mess of weeds and bramble unusable by anyone. People started claiming some of the open space for their yards. While not undesirable under the circumstances, they face the problem that the property isn't really theirs.

Advocates of private property sometimes cite the "tragedy of the commons," in which an unowned piece of land is overused and ruined since no one has any incentive to improve it. This may be the opposite problem--land is unused and useless to everyone since no one has an incentive to improve it.

Of course, open space laws don't create more open space, they simply push development elsewhere. As such, they increase the price of land for everyone.

Private property is still the foundation of freedom and prosperity.

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