Noteworthy Libertarian Moments of 2008


NoteworthyLibertarian Moments of 2008

My best Libertarian moment in 2008 was my 15 minutes of fame as a defender of my “property” rights.  I had been growing watercress in the drainage ditch in front of my home for over 25 years, using it for soups, salads, pesto and sandwiches.  It’s very healthy and a free food, requiring no cultivation.

One early Saturday morning, as I sat reading my newspaper in the front yard, a silver older-issue Mercedes drove up and two women came out, pulled on rubber boots from the trunk, and proceeded to harvest the cress into plastic bags.  I said the cress was mine, and they challenged me and said it was public property, growing in a municipal ditch.  I said I planted it, and they said, NO, it just grows in ditches….Much shouting, and neighbors now on the street….but the “ladies” would not leave.  After a half hour they were gone.  I surmised they were collecting large amounts for market garden sale.

I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper, but they felt this issue merited a story instead.  Please see:  Watercress a Popular Green in West Vancouver, Sept 14/08 front page story with a very nice photo.

As a result of the story I received phone calls about others in West Van having their watercress similarly poached.

My libertarian principles at play here are essentially Locke’s inalienable rights: Right to Life, Liberty, Property & Protest.  I felt since I had planted the stuff I had mixed my labor with this “land” and had a sort of “homestead” right to it.  Since it was being usurped, I felt I had a right to defend it and protest its poaching.  That was my instinctive reaction when I jumped out that morning. 

My subsequent research brought forth the common law understanding of “riparian rights”.  From Wikipedia:

Under the riparian principle, all landowners whose property is adjacent to a body of water have the right to make reasonable use of it.

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