23 August 2009

A few thoughts on Pennsylvania

I was in Pennsylvania the past couple of days for a family reunion. This trip, there were a few things that struck me about Pennsylvania:

1. Once you get off of the unglaciated sections of the Allegheny Plateau, both the physical and cultural geography change considerably.

2. The differences between the governments of New York and Pennsylvania are evident in the prevalence of billboards, poor road quality, and hideous sprawling development that is so common in Pennsylvania.

3. While Pennsylvania's government has created some less-than-ideal situations, it has also created some positive ones: gasoline was less expensive, sales taxes were lower, firearms and ammunition were readily available, and there fewer general restrictions on behavior.

My conflicting feelings about Pennsylvania illustrate perfectly the conflict that exists in my political and philosophical beliefs. I strongly promote the rights of individuals above the interests of the community; I adhere to Ayn Rand's notion that "[t]he smallest minority on earth is the individual," and that "[t]hose who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." At the same time, I strongly support the protection of agricultural and undeveloped lands from residential and industrial development. For years I have tried to reconcile my beliefs, but I don't know if I'll ever succeed in doing so. I am, for the most part, a libertarian. However, supporting restrictions on private property is about the least-libertarian thing you can do.

I'd like to hear from others who may struggle with this same issue. Is there anyone out there who believes in a VERY limited government, but also seeks to protect the countryside from randomly-placed businesses and McMansions? Drop me a line to let me know how you reconcile your conflicts.

No comments: