Memphis Mike in New Orleans; Should He Be Forced to Obtain a Government Required Permit? No.

From: R
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 2:30 AM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Memphis Mike NOPD police harassment

Dear Dr. Block, Would it be correct to assume that libertarians would object to the NOPD’s bullying of Memphis Mike due to lack of a government required permit? Photos and story at this link:

http://www.nola.com/music/index.ssf/2017/09/busking_new_orleans_laws.html#incart_river_home_pop

According to that old joke, if you ask 10 libertarians a question, you’ll get 11 answers, or more. So, I really can’t say whether “libertarians” would object to the treatment of this drummer on public property, but I certainly can give my own views.

They are as follows. If the musician is keeping people awake at 3am, then, yes, he should be stopped, since noise pollution, like air pollution, is a trespass against private property rights. The best reading on this is the following:

Rothbard, Murray N. 1982. “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution,” Cato Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring; reprinted in Block, Walter E. Ed. Economics and the Environment: A Reconciliation, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1990, pp. 233-279; http://mises.org/story/2120; http://www.mises.org/rothbard/lawproperty.pdf;
https://mises.org/library/law-property-rights-and-air-pollution-0

However, in the case at issue, that is entirely irrelevant. Memphis Mike played during the daytime, and the nearest residences must be at least a quarter, maybe a half mile or more, away. (I live in New Orleans, and I drive by his outpost, oh, once or twice a week; that is my off the cuff geographical estimate.)

Nor is it the case that Mike is a pressing and persistent beggar. He is not at all like the “squeegee men” who squirt some dirty water on passing motorists’ vehicles and then proceed to wipe at it with a filthy rag; they are trespassers, violators of private property rights. Mike just sits there, in the neutral ground between the north and south parts of Carrollton Street. As he says, if people offer him money, he accepts it; if not, he violates no rights. The same could be said for virtually all legal charitable organizations.

Further, he is on public property, and as a libertarian I am a long-time and vociferous opponent of that institution. My motto on this matter is: “If it moves, privatize it; if it doesn’t move, privatize it. Since everything either moves or doesn’t move, privatize everything.” So, yes, I do indeed object to the NOPD’s bullying of Memphis Mike due to his lack of a government required permit.”

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1:35 am on November 23, 2017