Resident urges less government

To the editor:

I have some thoughts on the Watson/Grant Redevelopment issue.

I have lived and worked in the Crestwood area for the last four years — long enough to have seen Kmart come and go and long enough to have heard a bunch of blighting and tax-increment-financing issues. I believe that the mayor and aldermen are doing their best, but maybe we need to step back from their month-to-month concerns with running Crestwood and look at the bigger picture. Suppose we based our decision-making on the following bedrock principle:

“Every person has the right to live his life as he chooses, so long as it does not interfere with the equal rights of others.”

It would follow then that:

“No one has the right to initiate aggression against the person or property of anyone else.”

And if you agree with the above, then shouldn’t you condemn government actions that take our persons or our property or threaten us with fines or jail, for the way we engage in voluntary actions with others — including commercial transactions?

There are those, called “Utilitarians,” that say our local — or state or federal — government should use a “greatest good for the greatest number” guideline to guide its policies. It sounds OK, but how do we know for certain what is “good”?

What if the overwhelming majority want to do something truly reprehensible, like expropriate Russian kulaks or murder the Jews? If faced with the claim that the greatest number thought that such a policy would do the greatest good, a Utilitarian has to fall back on something else, like an innate sense that certain fundamental rights are self-evident

This takes us right back to our rights as individuals, which I listed above. And these rights aren’t cumulative; you can’t say that six people’s rights outweigh three people’s rights, so the six can take the property of the three.

So where does this leave us? I think we can all agree that issues like the Wat-son/Grant Redevelopment Area are not as black and white as the extreme examples I cited above. But that’s my point, we can’t be sure our local government is doing the “right thing”— so what do we do?

I think our local government needs to back off and stop getting involved in coercive transfers of property.

Think about it. Less government. What a concept.

John F. Bell