Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Frankly, Scarlet, I Don't Give a Land

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star offers an idiocyncratic take on the differences between Southerners and Yankees when it comes to property rights and regulation of land development. The Yanks regard land as a commercial commodity to be used and despoiled. To the Southerner, land is sacred. As Scarlett O'Hara's father, Gerald, explained, "Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin' for, worth fightin' for, worth dyin' for, because it's the only thing that lasts."

The Free Lance-Star concludes: "The blind impressment of property rights into the service of merely 'real' interests threatens that which makes the South different and, in respects, better; that which Mr. [William] Winter describes as 'our emphasis on civility and graciousness and common courtesy.' These virtues, communal as well as individual, surely are inseparable from land that deserves protection now just as much as in 1861."

Ah, the romance of the lost cause.


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Growing up on Martha's Vineyard, I knew people who had handed their family land down through three hundred years, to descendants of the original founding families.

The felt prety much the same way as Scarlett O'haras father. I deny there is a difference between so called Yankees and so called southerners in this regard.

In the end though, many of those families were overcome by outside forces. I recall walking near Norton's point with one of my high school friends. She described how her father had always told here that this was a place where money ended and land and family began.

She told me this story in tears, heartbroken that her father finally had to sell her legacy, or most of it.

In many respects, my observation is that Yankees are more tolerant of the social control over land that Southerners decry as an intrusion on property rights. there is far more intrusion on development by neighbors and government in New England than here, and in some respects it is necessary because the space is generally more highly developed.

As a long since transplanted Yankee with maternal Southern roots, I now believe the Southerner's strong ownership view is more correct.

If the public wants to restrict development, there already exists a legal way to do so. All they have to do is raise taxes until they can afford to buy the land they don't want developed. This method provides a natural balance between what we want and what we can afford, just as you argued in your post above concerning wanting light rail but not wishing to pay for it.


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