Is Libertarianism a bunch of hogwash?

Scenario #1.
A certain man who lived in a village made many clever trades and accumulated a lot of money by buying low and selling high. He used this money to purchase a strip of land in a circle around the village and began charging toll for people who wanted to travel into or out of the village. The villagers said that the owner of the circular strip of property had no right to make them pay for passage across his property. The owner, however, insisted he did. The case ended up in court. You’re the judge. In whose favor should you decide?

Scenario #2.
Include the history of Scenario #1, except assume that the judge sided with the villagers. Frustrated in his ambition to extract the villagers’ coins with his first investment venture, the land owner builds a wall around his property, "incidentally" enclosing the village, and, because he was forbidden to collect passage toll, he does not put a gate anywhere in the wall. The villagers are "incidentally" trapped inside the village! The wall is too high to climb and too deep to dig under. The villagers sue the property owner again, and again you are the judge. Whose side do you take? Why?

Scenario #3.
Include the history of Scenarios #1 and #2, and assume that the judge sided with the villagers both times. The property owner, feeling very much as if his property rights are being horribly abused by the "socialistic" government, grudgingly puts a single gate in the west side of his wall to allow villagers and visitors to enter and leave without having to pay the property owner any toll for passage. (The judge was even mean enough to deny the owner a tax-paid reimbursement of his expenses for installing the gate, on the theory that he should have known better than to omit it in the first place.) The property owner tries a third time to make his property’s location pay off. Calling himself an artist, he stands before his gate at sunset every evening and loudly takes credit for the scene. He begins charging people money for "viewing the sunset," which "incidentally" has the same effect as a passage toll would have had if applied during the hour of sunset. The villagers demand to know why the owner of the narrow circular strip of property is entitled also to own the sunset. And he replies: "Because I could have built a wall between your eyes and this beauty–and I did not!" Back to court they go, the villagers complaining that the property owner’s claim of title to the sunset is spurious. Again, you are the judge. With whom do you agree?

Scenario #4. Include the history of all previous Scenarios. The property owner buys several more adjoining circular strips of property and builds a circular wall on each. As previously mentioned, the gate in the innermost wall is in the western most side. The gate in the next wall outward is in the eastern most side. The gate in the next wall is again in the western most side… and so on to the owner’s outermost wall. The villagers complain to the judge that the owner has no right to inconvenience their travels in this manner. How do you decide this case?
Adam C – In ruling in the property owner’s favor in the first case, how do you know that the burden is a small one?

Furthermore, if someone can’t pay the toll to leave the city, how is that different from being unable to climb a wall in order to do the same thing?

3 Responses to “Is Libertarianism a bunch of hogwash?”

  1. Frst Grade Rocks! Ω Says:

    The law disfavors landlocked property.

    The villagers had probably already established a prescriptive easement across the man’s property prior to his purchase. (This means the villagers, by use, had established the right to cross the property prior to the man’s purchase.) But if they hadn’t, they would be entitled to condemn the property to create the easement by necessity.

    Here is a case which addresses the issue: (Not a particular well written case, but it exemplifies the point).

    Libertarianism has its limits.

  2. Don't Tread Says:

    Too many details for this hour. Libertarianism is the opposition to authoritarianism/statism.

    No it isn’t hogwash.

  3. Adam C Says:

    I skimmed everything you wrote here and I’m not getting your point. Did you just make up a bunch of scenarios so no matter what the libertarians argue you can tell them they’re wrong? You can do that with any sociopolitical scheme.

    1. I decide in favor of the man. I applaud his ingenuity. He hasn’t significantly interfered with their enjoyment of their own property. He has simply placed a small burden on their right to travel.
    2. I decide in favor of the villagers. Under US law, he has falsely imprisoned them. As far as libertarians are concerned, he’s not only interfered with, but has completely taken away, one of their basic freedoms. He can do whatever he wants with his property as long as he doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.
    3. I decide in favor of the villagers. The man has interfered with their right to enjoyment of their property, which goes along with the basic right to property ownership. Again, he can’t interfere with basic rights of other individuals.
    4. This is a more substantial burden, and the constitution has been interpreted to include a right to travel. I’d have to rule in favor of the villagers again.

    Now, as far as we capitalists are concerned, the villagers should just go out and build their own wall around this guy’s.

    Please respond to this so I know what you’re trying to get at.