Monday, May 4, 2009

Funky, But Chic

On Saturday I wrote about Peter Brown's endorsement by George Clinton, aka "The Godfather of Funk". A Brown supporter responded to my post, pointing out that Brown has spoken to the Houston Property Rights Association on multiple occasions:
I merely wanted to point out that Peter has listened to property rights groups and answered their questions. Just because he doesn't always share your views does not mean he has avoided hearing them. [punctuation and capitalization corrected]

This is a common approach among politicians. They will "listen" to anyone, and then "agree to disagree". They treat opposing views as a matter of opinion, and every opinion as equally valid. The truth is, my disagreement with Brown is at fundamental level and our views are diametrically opposed.

I hold that individual rights, including property rights, are sacrosanct and cannot be violated for any reason. Brown rejects individual rights and treats them as a minor obstacle that must be overcome in pursuing his "common vision". As a few examples, he supports restrictions on billboards and supported zoning in the 1990s. This is not a minor disagreement--this goes to the very core of our view of man, morality, and politics.

Brown's reaching out to the funk crowd is certainly not unusual. Politicians often try to build a "big tent" under which individuals with widely different ideas can feel comfortable. They try to throw enough crumbs to enough people that they can get the votes needed to win election. But what they, and their supporters, do not understand is that they cannot be all things to all people. In the end, they must pander to their core constituency.

For example, what will happen when Brown must choose between protecting property rights and billboards? How will he respond when some noisy gang wants to stop a development project? Brown has made it clear--time after time--that he is willing to use government coercion to stop land uses he does not favor.

I have previously pointed out that the ideas offered by Brown do not differ in any essential way from those of his chief opponent--Annise Parker. Both are offering the same conventional ideas.

Since Brown is playing to the funk crowd, I would suggest something really funky. (One definition for funky is "Characterized by originality and modishness; unconventional".) I would suggest that Brown defend individual rights, including property rights. This would certainly be unconventional, and it would distinguish him from Parker.

Such a position would have broad appeal--individual rights apply to all individuals. Brown would not have to choose between his constituencies--there are no conflicts between the rights of individuals. And in ushering in a new era of freedom, not only would Brown be funky, he'd be funky, but chic. He might even get an endorsement from David Johansen.

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