Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Yours, mine or ours?

Our Urban Forest

Consider these questions:

1.  Under what conditions should property owners be allowed to cut their trees?

2.  Under what conditions should property owners be prohibited from cutting their trees?

The first question assumes society has ultimate control of the whole of people's rights and can give them back as allowable actions. The second question assumes the individual is empowered with all of his natural rights and is only prohibited from acting in a way that will harm others.  If there is a question of balance, which philosophy should weigh more heavily?  

The first argument is that government codes were important to maintain control over trees "for the common good."  Trees act as a public infrastructure that we all benefit from.  There is a growing movement away from individualism toward a community-based world view, and that was a good thing.  

The second argument claims validity from rights to property guaranteed by the Constitution, and man's natural desire for autonomy.  The lean towards maximum liberty can be pursued with better effect by using encouragement, education and incentives than relying on regulations.  

It is important to note that in either case, there will be abuses, errors, and actions that neighbors do not like.  Communication before a tree is cut, or before any potential problem act, is be better than all the rules that can follow.  

Acknowledging that there should be laws and rules to regulate our behavior so that we do not have chaos, where is the balance between group and individual rights?  

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