Sunday, June 15, 2014

Murphy Rothfar’s “Libertarian Estates”



NB: This story is fictional.  The characters are not real.  Any resemblance to real events or persons is purely coincidental.

There was once a man, a property developer, by the name of Murphy Rothfar.  He was a creative man; he had thoughts about real estate, property development, and construction that were far outside of the mainstream.  He had a vision beyond that of many of his predecessors and one that provoked a jealousy amongst some and anger amongst others of his contemporaries.  Frankly, most just thought of him (if they thought of him at all) as a kook.

He decided one day to develop a new type of property, a place where each homeowner would be free to build out his individual parcel just as he saw fit.  No restrictions on the structure, color, size, whatever.  He believed such a concept would offer the greatest possibilities for the greatest number of buyers – a wide tent, if you will.

He asked his real estate broker, Lewis Rockman, to find 7500 wooded acres.  Murphy’s intent was to divide this property into 5000 one-acre parcels, with the remaining 2500 acres for streets and common areas.

Murphy intended to keep much of the natural environment and wooded area as it was – he would set each home site away from the street and away from each other such that each home would not be visible to another – hidden by the trees and other natural and geographic features of the parcel.  This was critical in order to achieve his vision – Murphy was going to allow each homeowner to build whatever type of home he desired – any floor-plan, any shape, any color.  He felt that if each home was reasonably secluded from another that such diversity would be of no concern to any of the neighbors.  Of course, if several homeowners wanted to develop along a common theme, they could certainly do so; however, this would not be driven by Murphy.  Live and let live.

You can imagine what others in his field thought about this: “It will be chaos; you need to study the numbers and statistics; the surveys do no support such a process; there is not a single successful example in history of such a project.”  Such was the life of Murphy.

Lewis went to work; as expected, he quickly found the right property.  Murphy then asked his engineering team, led by Wilson Blox, to design the property – streets, curbs, gutters, utilities, common areas, etc. – to maximize the land available for the 5000 parcels, and minimize the intrusion of one homeowner’s vision on the next.

Wilson, in the efficient manner Murphy came to expect, ended up getting approximately 1.1 acres per parcel – even more privacy for each potential homeowner.  He did this via a new concept of road layout not previously thought of by those charged with this most basic of so-called government services – private roads, can you imagine?  With this, all of the physical necessities were in place for the development to go forward.

Murphy had one more task remaining, however; he needed proper CC&Rs for the property – rules by which each homeowner agreed to live.  The simpler the better – after all, each homeowner was to be left free to build as he saw fit, without encroaching in any manner on a neighbor.  He called on one of his prized students, John Henry Hoppy, to draw-up the homeowner’s agreement.  This was done with relative ease: “Each homeowner is free to develop his property as he sees fit, as long as the natural environment between properties is respected.”

Simple.  Now, all was in order.  Time to sell.


Murphy went back to his real estate broker, Lewis Rockman.  He asked Lewis to list the properties and begin the sales process.  For a time, everything went quite slowly – it took years to sell even a few parcels.  Very few people even heard of the development – called “Libertarian Estates” – and of those who had heard of it, many confused it with “libertine,” “chaos,” and even “communism.”  Just as the critics knew would be the case….

Slowly, a few people came around to understanding – “Libertarian Estates” meant nothing more than liberty bounded by non-aggression; I build what I want on my property, you build what you want on yours.  I won’t bother you; you don’t bother me.  We don’t owe each other anything more.

Then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, a voice emerged – Paul Ronson.  He captured the hearts and minds of many.  Through him, untold thousands came to understand the purpose of Murphy’s vision in Libertarian Estates.  By this time, the real estate broker Lewis Rockman had discovered a new means of advertising – the internet!  They flocked to Lewis’s internet site advertising Murphy’s Libertarian Estates.

Sales were finally booming.  Momentum was building.  The development would be sold out in no time.  Then, the troubles began….

Some individuals, attracted to some aspects of Libertarian Estates, were displeased with other features.  The reasons were various, but all boiled down to one thing – the homeowner’s agreement was too simple. Instead of taking the basic concept as it was, and taking advantage of the freedom it offered to build whatever type of home they wanted, they instead believed it necessary to add other rules – to make the concept more palatable to a wider audience.

It was not enough to allow each individual homeowner the right to build as he saw fit.  Murphy should also take into account other aspects that would make for a more well-balanced society.  To this thought Murphy laughed, almost uncontrollably, in the manner that those who knew him well were quite accustomed. 

“Make the community as well-balanced as you like,” Murphy thought; “I am offering only one simple condition, thus allowing you to make whatever you want of this community – this makes for a community available to the widest possible audience.  I only prohibit force upon another in the design of your property.”

Some felt that the exterior colors of the houses should be coordinated – for example, Geoffrey Buckman – at one time one of the most vocal advocates of Libertarian Estates – felt that Murphy’s vision was too brutal – can you imagine the ugliness of a neighborhood where different people might have different tastes and might not be tolerant of another’s?  Shelton Pitchman suggested almost the opposite – that each homeowner should allow the other homeowners to decide the color of their own home for him; even more, whenever another homeowner wanted to visit, the door should remain open whether or not the homeowner wanted guests! 

Matthias Twospinski believed every homeowner should contribute some portion of their land toward a children’s playground – as if Murphy hasn’t left room in Libertarian Estates for homeowner’s to do just this if they so desire.  Davison Moab believed some rules are necessary – for example, on window size and square footage of the living room.

Corysimous Giganticus (look, I told you these were fictional characters – you try making up the names if you don’t like mine) wants a rule that says no house will be any larger or any smaller than another and that the rooms will have equal lighting regardless of their relative position to the sun.  Next there was Minny Boundry, who suggested that Murphy should disallow a homeowner from being content with a solitary lifestyle, merely because he desired this.

There came more, so many more; too many to address.  Think tanks such as the Crater Institute, publications such as Logic Magazine – at one time quite supportive of the Libertarian Estates’ objectives – now seemed eager to draw support away from the Estates and toward some marginalized, watered-down properties.

It seemed that the more popular Libertarian Estates became, the more persistent the attacks at shredding the message and purpose of Murphy Rothfar’s vision; a sure sign of success if ever there was one.

5 comments:

  1. You left out the part played by Myopic Bisquit-o.

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  2. I am reminded of a poem:

    STOLEN LIGHT

    I watched a stage as house-lights dimmed
    A hero faced the loud applause
    A spot light lit her gentle face
    We loved her for her noble cause

    We loved that she had named such truth
    That she had brought such blinding light
    We loved that such a one as she
    could stand alone and always fight

    And then a question came to us
    How would the world turn out
    Now that this sweet and brilliant mind
    Had graced us with her shout

    The spotlight which so brightly shown
    drew moths, like any light
    and others climbed upon the stage
    and others filled our sight

    And she was lost and silenced then
    her spotlight made a cage
    for beasts who sought, but did not earn
    a place on center stage

    And then the answer came to us
    that when an angel sings
    she's soon dismissed by jealousy
    and replaced by common things

    ReplyDelete
  3. Funny, and especially acute to one who used to work in civil and surveying. Our informal motto: "One more lot!"

    ReplyDelete