Do you know what liberty looks like? Let me describe to you one form it might take. It looks like overgrown weeds on an unkempt lawn. It looks like a house exterior in disrepair. It looks like a broken-down car in the driveway. It's beautiful.
I have just described a piece of property that I'm sure we have all seen at one point or another. Such a property would certainly elicit varied responses. Some wouldn't give it a second thought. Some would take pity on the poor owner. And there are some who would call the police.* Those who would call the police would dictate to their neighbor how a property should appear. Those people would use government agents to coerce their neighbor to alter the property. Those people would have the government agents use any force necessary, maybe even violence, if their neighbor resisted. Those people are the enemies of liberty.
Those people don't understand that liberty and property rights are inextricably linked. You cannot have one without the other. Liberty is the freedom to do whatever you want to do with your property. Liberty also means that other people can't mess with your property. Just so we're clear, your property includes not just your lawn, your house, and your car. It includes all your stuff, everything you acquire through your purchases, and everything you produce using your own resources. It includes your body and your thoughts.
I bring up property rights in this, my second post, for a very important reason. It provides a litmus test to see if any law violates the principles of liberty. Here is the test: If a law forbids an act that does no harm to the property of another person, then it is a bad law.
When properly applied, this litmus test can lead to some startling conclusions. Because of my firm belief in the principles of liberty I cannot support things like local ordinances against "blight", zoning laws, building codes, construction permits, business licensure, prohibition on certain substances, and many other things. Many of these "laws" punish behaviors that in no way affect other people. Other "laws" attempt to prevent the imagined possibility of something bad maybe happening in the future. But we are not fortune-tellers. We don't punish probabilities. We punish direct violations of property rights, only after they occur.
Liberty demands that property rights be absolute. Do whatever you want with your property, as long as it doesn't harm anyone. Every peaceful choice should be fair game. So go ahead and let the lawn take care of itself, refuse to paint the house, and keep that old junker where everyone can see it. Not many people will choose to do that but I will fight for your right to do so.
*Some people would complain to the homeowners association. I plan to address HOA's in a future post. To put it simply, when you live in an HOA you do not own all the rights to your house and you are therefore legally restricted by contract from doing certain things.