We don't get a lot of feel-good stories around these parts. So here's your daily smile: In the St. Louis area, a group of folks started an urban farm on land owned by someone else. It was a win-win for the nearby airport, which owned the land at the time: It didn't have to spend tens of thousands of dollars a year mowing, and the farmers got some exercise and affordable healthy food. Then the new owner decided it was going to use that land to expand its office park.McArdle wants to know we can't all just hold hands with Monsanto or Georgia-Pacific and sing kum-by-yah?
[yip yip yip]
This is civil society at its best. Cooperative, instead of adversarial. Respectful of property rights, while also respectful of people who have come together to build something great with their own labor. Win-win, instead of zero-sum.
Of course, that's not always possible.... But we can also make it worse than it needs to be. The company could have stood on its legal rights and said it didn't owe the gardeners a damn thing. The gardeners could have declared they were needier than the company and tried to claim squatter's rights.
Instead, everyone respected each other and did the right thing. You can't mandate that -- indeed, mandates would destroy that respect and create more conflict. When you try to reduce everything to a matter of law, you create hard borders that must be fought over. It is in the space between the laws, where people have the freedom to do what is best rather than what is legal, that we have the opportunity to come to amicable agreements.
Now the community has more office space and a better community garden. If we started more conversations with that kind of mutual respect, I wonder if we wouldn't have more of these kinds of mutual wins.
This is why.
About 40,000 residents in the towns of Igualada and Odena [Spain] were ordered to stay indoors and keep their windows shut after an explosion at a nearby chemical company sent a massive orange cloud of potentially toxic fumes into the sky.We do not yet know if this particular incident was an accident that could not have been prevented or if it occurred due to lax regulation. Both situations occur. But when the consequences are potentially so severe the last thing we need is a "journalist" who vacuously chirps that those silly rules set up to regulate corporations aren't even necessary.
Someone donated a community garden so we don't really need to hold corporations to the laws that regulate them, do we? Of course not! So glad you agree with me. Now off I go to eat lunch in an open-air café. Just not in Spain, tee-hee!