Parenting Porcupines

Hey, you kids get off my lawn!

Episode Summary

Main Idea: Property rights are complicated. How do you navigate them? How do you explain them to kids?

Episode Notes

On the blog here.

Episode art: Photo by David McBee on

All right, in the first place, we think of this as “Don’t hurt people. Don’t take their stuff.” And we think about “stuff” as including property. After all, the founding fathers wanted “life, liberty, and property” as the inalienable rights.

Turns out property is a limited commodity and so not inalienable, but whatever.

Now, though, property rights tend to be applied primarily to the land upon which you live, the assets which you possess, and the nouns you have dominion over — people, places, and things — where you are in control of the treatment and destiny thereof.

To this point, Exhibit A: Family buys land, decides to live on it during the pandemic because, you know, self sufficiency and covid restrictions and all that. (this link) The county decided — you read that right — the county acting on behalf of all its citizens decided that this man, who bought this property, needed to register his residence, and pay appropriate taxes on the dwellings that were not there.

Because let’s be honest, these power grabs are always about paying the appropriate taxes to have the inalienable rights we’re told we already have.

“Before I could go to court, they showed up at my property, the building inspector and the code enforcement officer, and told me that I had to be off my land or they were going to seize my vehicles and my assets…”

So not only is the county making decisions about what he can do with his own property and what dwellings are fit to live in, they are threatening his compliance by seizure of the very properties it deems unworthy of the man’s living.

What the actual … ?

Try this statement: “Leslie joins a growing list of cases involving homeowner’s rights, at a time when compassion could go a long way.” Looking at you, Polk County, for being the dicks on today’s podcast.

So let’s talk about this for a second. Whose land is it? What rights do you actually have on your own land?

Then let’s talk about city and county ordinances and who they benefit and why they’re passed.

Then let’s talk about HOA ordinances and other low-stakes, but ridiculous threats standards that have us all running scared to build a deck or paint our front doors orange.

When do you rights begin and your neighbor’s rights end?

What are the mechanisms for determining whose rights supercede another’s?

And finally, because this is the whole point of the broadcast, how do you explain this shit to your kids?