Like the oil spill arguments
Reader comment on: Solar Permits
in response to reader comment: To protect the oil industry
Submitted by Ben (United States), Jan 20, 2011 11:21
Did you see the clip of the guy in Tennessee whose house burned as the fire department watched because he hadn't paid his fire department fee. Seems fair, except the fire department ended up putting out the fire anyway because it endangered his neighbors. Fires spread, so society has a role in limiting them. We could do it only on a reactive basis as you suggest, but this may end up a lot more costly in both money and lives. The alternative is to regulate and limit (surely not eradicate) fires. Of course, your argument also assumes that the homeowner or the person who installed it has the ability to pay the damages which is a big assumption. Perhaps we could force them to buy insurance!!!
I am all for streamlining regulations. The NY Times article clearly shows that towns and cities need some kind of standard to ease the process, but eliminating regulations is not a panacea like the right makes it out to be. In fact, its unintended consequences could far outweigh the benefits (litigation of every little issue being one predictable consequence of no regulation).
What about the eyesore argument? SHould a property owner be able to do anything he wants with his property, no matter how noxious to his neighbors?
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The Future of Capitalism replies:
If there's a mortgage on the house in most cases the bank will require some kind of fire or flood insurance. Private regulation.
On the eyesore argument, it can be solved (and in lots of suburban America is) by a private homeowners association setting rules (no cars on blocks, no laundry hanging outside) which people buying in voluntarily agree to live by. In other instances a homeowner will buy a conservation or view easement from a neighbor. Again voluntary regulation by consenting private parties rather than government. Unless the neighbor is building a 40-story skyscraper in most instances one can handle it by just putting up some tall shrubs along the property line anyway.
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