In Oakland, California, not far from where I live, urban homesteading – growing food on private land for small-scale trade and consumption – has become so common the city government was forced to back off for once. In a rare triumph for sanity and freedom, anachronistic zoning ordinances from 1965 were liberalized to accommodate the city farmers. Molly Samuel explained at KQED:
“The city has already made some changes; it’s now legal to grow and sell vegetables on an empty lot with a conditional use permit. . . . Oakland North reports one of the hotly debated topics [at a city meeting] was animal husbandry: Should Oaklanders be permitted to raise, slaughter, and sell animals? Or not?”
Despite the remaining government bureaucracy, we have to cheer on the homesteaders. They are so impossible to ignore, hundreds of them flooding a city meeting, that the tyranny of zoning is being ratcheted back for once.
And although it has a leftish quality, libertarians ought to take notice of this counter-cultural movement, whose localizing agenda poses profound implications for the future of liberty. With the economic forecasts dire and the corporatist system of mega-farms firmly gripping the Obama administration and all federal politics for the foreseeable future, our rights and perhaps very lives may depend on the freedom to farm at home.
It is a truism that you can become jaded working in just about any country. But a healthy bit of skepticism is just what the doctor ordered when dealing with extraordinary claims.
For example, one frequent comparison between the US and China involves defining a police state (which I discussed several weeks ago).
Last week a gunmen killed 12 moviegoers at a Batman premier in Colorado.
At the same time, half a world away, a massive thunderstorm flooded the greater Beijing metro with the heaviest rains since the PRC was founded. And due to poor drainage infrastructure at least 77 residents died from drowning and electrocution.
Both of these incidents were horrible, yet it was the aftermath that is key to illustrating which country is more free than the other. For example: to stave off criticism of flood management, the censorship regime in China subsequently shoved a dozen wordsand terms down into the memory hole.
I recently published an article in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics which was critical of the work of one George Reisman on the subject of resource economics. Professor Reisman has been kind enough to respond to my article, and although I thank him for taking the time to reply, I find his response rather unconvincing. This article is a rejoinder to his criticism, and will show that his response has both reinforced my original arguments and misunderstood certain claims I made.
I apologize in advance for the length of this response, which is greater than I first anticipated. I pondered whether I should take the time to write it, but given that Professor Reisman does not believe in opportunity costs, I could not justify a lack of reply on the grounds that I had more important matters to deal with. I encourage interested readers to read both my original paper and Reisman’s response, which will reveal that the tone of my article was fair and respectful. I leave it to the reader to determine if Reisman’s response was equally congenial.
Reisman’s response consists mostly of a series of quotations from his book Capitalism, which he claims undermine my criticism. I will show that they do anything but. I would also like to address some of the larger concerns Reisman raises in his introduction and conclusion, which will serve to highlight important confusions.
Pretty much everyone knows–or should know–that many, and maybe most, of the points made by most politicians are of little value, amounting to little more than equine feces at best. A commercial I saw the other day illustrated that the same is true of TV commercials. (Yes, I realize that’s no discovery. But still…) The advertisement I saw featured a clean-cut young man making a pitch to “buy American-made gasoline at Kwik Fill” because doing so “strengthens our economy.” Do people believe that type of thing? The short answer is: Yes. How do I know? Because presidents–and presidential candidates–have been saying pretty much the same thing for close to 4 decades, beginning with Nixon and continuing right up through Obama.