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Britney, The Paparazzi And Land Socialism

The city of Los Angeles is considering an ordinance that would create a paparazzi-free bubble of safety around celebrities whereby the proceeds of the sale of photographs taken within the bubble would be confiscated. Situations such as this one exist due to a lack of property rights. Roads, parks and other areas are made available to everyone by the state, and in so doing, it has to try to accommodate as many groups as possible, even when each group wishes that the other would disappear. One group will cry out for protection against the swarm of lenses while the other will claim that they have freedom of movement and the right to photograph everyone on public property. One must ask how come there are no paparazzi in people's homes? Because they have not been invited. Wherever there is private property, there is order as determined by the owner. When land and other spaces are socialized such that everyone has generally unlimited access to it at no cost (or very little cost), then we can expect chaos --people will want to have as much use as possible and conflicts over usage rules are almost always inevitable. The state cannot legitimately owner property and thus should not be managing it (or be creating bubbles of safety). The best solution to this government-created moral hazard is to desocialize land as much as possible. It is not inconceivable to think that unlike the city government, road owners, neighborhoods and developers would establish rules. They might then legitimately prohibit certain behaviors and treat intruders as trespassers. Some might ban photographers while some might even ban celebrities!

Manuel Lora is a multimedia producer at Cornell University.

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