I believe the only legitimate role for government, if it is to even exist at all, is to protect liberty, that's it. I know that's a very hardline Libertarian view and, yes, I am personally a voluntaryist/anarcho-capitalist (don't worry, I'm not advocating for some sort of violent takeover of the govt ;), but my ideas about that are a whole other discussion I won't get into right now). So, just so long as an individual is not infringing upon the liberties of others to do as they wish with their own body and their own property the government has no business getting involved. If a racist store owner wishes to discriminate against minorities coming into his place of business, that should be up to him, even if 99% of the town disagrees with him. Therein lies the beauty of the free market, if all the townsfolk disagree with him, they will not patronize his store and he'll most likely go out of business. If he somehow manages to keep his doors open (maybe he's independently wealthy) at least people will be aware of his views and won't be unknowingly providing monetary support to an individual who holds views they find abhorrent. In the meantime some people might try to appeal to this man to change his views on a personal level (which would arguably be more efficient than the government forcing a false type of tolerance that is in action only and not in spirit). This would apply to any moral issue, such as blue laws and dry counties, regardless of the number of people who support or oppose it in the community.
I don't believe a legitimate role for the government is to protect the property value of individuals, whether through zoning laws or any other means. It is not my view that the government ought to guard against the risk that is inherent in life. Justifying government involvement to protect people's investments can, and often does, lead to problematic lines of reasoning. People don't consider proper risk assessment before making decisions because they count on a sort of government strong-arming by the majority (or the loudest voices in the room, or those with the deepest pockets) to protect them against those risks. Again we should look to the free market for issues such as this. If an individual is in the market for a house but doesn't want to worry about neighbors who may not keep up on their maintenance or tidy up their yard or build a structure they don't like he can buy a property with quite a bit of acreage to keep distance between him and any potential neighbors. If this individual doesn't want a large lot he could buy a house in a gated community where the deed restrictions set by the developer keep the appearance of lots to a standard that he finds acceptable. Or he could buy a condominium.
For me it really boils down to this: Liberty is the default setting for every human being, any add-ons to this setting should be done voluntarily on the part of each individual through free-market only, and the government is only there to make sure nobody tries to alter the original software.
I'm reaching up and reaching out.
I'm reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.
And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been.
We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been.
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