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Property rights and light pollution

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Edward posted on Wed, Mar 17 2010 11:04 AM

I realize this is a purely theoretic question, but I cant seem to figure it out by myself.

Say there is property X and property Z.

X can infringe on Z's property rights by throwing his trash on Z's lawn, which under libertarian principles is a clear violation of rights. Now X burns his trash and the smoke goes over Z's property. Again a violation of Z's rights. If Z encounters any discomfort on his own property, caused by X's behavior, we can say Z's rights are violated.

Now take less tangible things, like radio waves. Some people might not like being subjected to this, but is it an violation of your property rights? I recall hearing Walter Block speak on this issue, and he commented that since there is no clear harm done, these radio waves do not violate anyone’s property rights, which sounds perfectly reasonable to me. (I could not find the sourcefile on this, so I apologize in case I did not state Dr. Block's opinion regarding this issue correctly)

Now take light. You can see property A from property B and vice versa, which means there is always some light emitted from one property to another. No violation of rights here. Now X decides to paint his house pink, so more pink light will be emitted from X to Z. Z might not like living next to a pink house, but there is no violation of rights here.

Finally X puts this up in his lawn and aims it at Z: http://static.zoom.nl/8FA998E86DD2AF1A65B05DAEE980DE8A-laser-show-awakenings.jpg

Clearly very annoying for Z, but it is still just emittance of light from one to another property, and in principle not different from any different type of lamp on your lawn.

Despite this, my gut tells me rights are being violated here.

-How can we define the border between what is considered a violation and what is not? It sounds like the line is purely arbitrarily.

-Should we contractually define maximum light emission before buying the property?

 

Like to hear your thoughts on this.

 

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Conza88:

During the day.. you cannot see it, no? On whose property is the light source, who owns it? Is it during the night? Well buy some blinds, or curtains...

Alternatively; those strobe lights / lasers can cause physical damage... claim it as a threat, or contact his PDA, DRO etc... get an injunction.

Party Laser Blinds Russian Ravers

You don't even need to go that far. Think of Rothbard's example of noise pollution from an airport. Did this person buy a house next to a rave or is the light a new addition? Then you have the answer.

Democracy means the opportunity to be everyone's slave.—Karl Kraus.

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Is the light admitted by the property of the neighbor?

Is the light being admitted contacting the property of another?

[edit:  if you answer yes to these two, then property is involved]

Is there no property involved?

[edit:  if you answer no here, then nobody is involved]

Is there a dispute?

[edit: if you answer yes here and yes to the first two, then the dispute is absolutely about a property conflict and therefore who has a right to the claim in dispute, meaning, the just(ice) resolution will be absolutely about property rights]

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Conza88 replied on Wed, Mar 17 2010 11:37 AM

Edward:
You can see property A from property B and vice versa, which means there is always some light emitted from one property to another.

Light has a source. The sun in this case.

Edward:
Now X decides to paint his house pink, so more pink light will be emitted from X to Z. Z might not like living next to a pink house, but there is no violation of rights here.

Because it's an externality. Z might like living next to a pink house. If he doesn't, then he can go buy some blinds, offer to pay his neighbor to use a different colour, he moves house etc, etc, etc...

Edward:

Finally X puts this up in his lawn and aims it at Z: http://static.zoom.nl/8FA998E86DD2AF1A65B05DAEE980DE8A-laser-show-awakenings.jpg

Clearly very annoying for Z, but it is still just emittance of light from one to another property, and in principle not different from any different type of lamp on your lawn.

During the day.. you cannot see it, no? On whose property is the light source, who owns it? Is it during the night? Well buy some blinds, or curtains...

Alternatively; those strobe lights / lasers can cause physical damage... claim it as a threat, or contact his PDA, DRO etc... get an injunction.

Party Laser Blinds Russian Ravers

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Joe replied on Wed, Mar 17 2010 11:47 AM

when I read the title I thought this was going to be about a small amount of pollution Big Smile

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Conza88:

During the day.. you cannot see it, no? On whose property is the light source, who owns it? Is it during the night? Well buy some blinds, or curtains...

Alternatively; those strobe lights / lasers can cause physical damage... claim it as a threat, or contact his PDA, DRO etc... get an injunction.

Party Laser Blinds Russian Ravers

You don't even need to go that far. Think of Rothbard's example of noise pollution from an airport. Did this person buy a house next to a rave or is the light a new addition? Then you have the answer.

Democracy means the opportunity to be everyone's slave.—Karl Kraus.

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Conza88 replied on Wed, Mar 17 2010 12:24 PM

E. R. Olovetto:
You don't even need to go that far. Think of Rothbard's example of noise pollution from an airport. Did this person buy a house next to a rave or is the light a new addition? Then you have the answer.

Yes, I know - easements. I didn't think it was necessary to bring that up yet, since I don't believe it addressed the scenario. Although, I was throwing out hypotheticals / questions and probably could have. Thanks.

By the way, welcome to the forums Edward. Smile

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Edward:

How about Z installs an inexpensive reflective mirror...

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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Edward replied on Wed, Mar 17 2010 1:22 PM

Thanks for the answers. I question is was asking myself was when it becomes a violation to emit light on somebody else's property.

Hanging up a normal lamp in your garden might also mean some additional light is emitted to your neighbors property, but it does not neccesarily is a violation of rights. In this regard light is very similar to sound. A little pollution might be accepted, but if it forms a nuisance the person which added the light after the other person bought the property is liable.  Exactly like rothbards airport example.

Thanks all! I can sleep again :)

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Yes, at any rate this would be something courts at common law would concern themselves with, rather than something which can be answered from the armchair. Easements and priority in terms of who emitted what and in what quantities first would all be relevant.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Answered (Not Verified) Htut replied on Wed, Mar 17 2010 2:11 PM
Suggested by Jon Irenicus

There are rational incentives for individuals to also organize themselves into contractual arrangements that provide for (and pay for) such exigencies as pollution and other 'environmental' damages, including direct 'community' agreements and reciprocal agreements between insurance, real-estate and utilities agencies. It is not likely that there will be strings of neighbors with no contractual relations between eachother (direct or indirect) to control likely externalities.

 

Instead of expecting some absolute 'natural rights' answer, one might instead look for circumstantial agreements that suit the parties in question and reflect their own values. 'Natural' law is a product of self-interest in an environment not constrained by systemic violence and ideological subversion - it is not deductive logic that one can 'legislate'. Armchair law is just as bad as statute law.

“Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of the government.” - Proudhon

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Edward:

-How can we define the border between what is considered a violation and what is not? It sounds like the line is purely arbitrarily.

It is, which is why it needs to be settled by an arbitrator.

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caravelle:
it may be an issue of was the light emitting property owner there first.

Typically the biggest light polluters are governments through public street and highway lighting. Second comes parking lots.

 

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nirgrahamUK:
How about Z installs an inexpensive reflective mirror...

Or Z can walk over with a stick and break all the lights.

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Z the vigilante vandal!

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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