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October 27, 2007


Well, then I guess that makes me a proud idiotic communist because I voted yes to both and mailed my ballot this week.

The Measure 37/49 battle is actually a conflict between individual and collective rights. So if you're in favor of the collective side of the argument with Measure 49, restricting personal property rights, splitting property rights into 2 tiers- one tier for small developments and another tier for larger developments, then don't be too surprised if you're labeled as a communist.

You forgot to mention the Portland Tribune writing that favor Measure 49, even though they would have to hold their nose to vote for it. I refuse to vote for crap. Vote No on 49. (Might as well make it a twofer and vote No on 50, too.)

From the outset I figured it would come to this: individual versus collective rights.

The following is from Wikpedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_and_negative_rights ):

“Within the philosophy of human rights, some philosophers and political scientists make a distinction between negative and positive rights. According to this view, a positive right imposes a moral obligation on a person to do something for someone, while a negative right merely obliges others to refrain from interfering with someone's attempt to do something.

“To state the difference more formally, if 'A' has a negative right against 'B' then 'B' must refrain from acting in a way that would prevent 'A' from doing 'x'. If 'A' has a positive right against 'B', then 'B' must assist 'A' to do 'x' if 'A' is not able to do 'x' without that assistance. For example, a negative right to life would require others to refrain from killing a person. A positive right to life would require others act to save the life of someone who would otherwise die.

“Negative rights may be used to justify political rights such as freedom of speech, property, habeas corpus, freedom from violent crime, freedom of worship, a fair trial, freedom from slavery and the right to bear arms. Positive rights may be used to justify public education, health care, social security or a minimum standard of living.”

The political philosopher, Isaiah Berlin, wrote extensively about this distinction. The New York Review of Books has a good selection of his work, and commentaries thereon.

So, in a a very real Political Science 101 or 201 sense, the debate does turn on what limits we accept on our rights in order to exist in a society. When you analyze the property rights arguments of Measure 37, you end up with a world more like that of Hobbes than that of Locke, upon which our governmental system derives.

To argue from the hard core property rights folks puts them far on the fringes of the Constitutional debate. Yes, some of these arguments can be found in the writings of Jefferson, but these folks certainly are not about to follow all that Jefferson advocated.

In a group, all rights are limited by what they do for and to the whole group. There is no cultural group that doesn't have limitations. The only people who can have it all their way live apart from others. Oregon decided many years ago that it wanted to maintain farmland and timberland. It did this through zoning but also lowering the tax rates on such land. Nobody who is against 49 talks about that. They want to reap profits but how about paying back that tax difference through all the years, the years where the rest of the people in Oregon paid extra for the benefit to keeping agricultural land able to produce.

I already voted yes on 49... but no on 50. I don't vote in lockstep with anybody on anything and decide each issue on its merits-- as I see it. It's how all laws are decided and anybody who talks about free property rights is really talking about making more money and who cares what it does to the community.

We have zoning, will continue to have zoning, and all 37 did was let a certain group of people believe they were exempt from having to be concerned about the overall good and only care for their own benefits.

It's in human nature to be selfish but don't cloak it in high minded language as an issue of freedom. There can't be freedom to do anything you want in a group. People who want that need to move clear away from all others and even then the bear and elk might have some ideas about your projects.

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