Saturday, May 31, 2008


Well, I've been on the road (and air) for a while now. The Wife and I are in D.C. at the moment. I'll post something interesting after late tomorrow, once I get home. I promise.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thoughts on property

After moving to Wyoming about ten months ago, we still have numerous unopened boxes strewn about. There's probably a pertinent post I could do about the utility of owning so much junk, but that is for another day. You see, yesterday, The Wife finally got the whip cracking on our unopened boxes of books and I came across this gem of a book:

Bill Moshofsky is a strong property rights advocate, and one of the major promoters of Oregon's Measure 37, a ballot measure that requires state and local governments to compensate a landowner when regulation inhibits a landowner's use of their land. You want urban growth boundaries and zoning ordinances that prohibit me from subdividing my farm and creating new urban sprawl? Fine, but it will be a taking and you need to pay up.

According to the book description from the publisher (I haven't actually read the book, although I have heard Mr. Moshofsky speak on several occasions):
The land use regulatory system needlessly crams almost all people and development on less than 2% of the land in the state, unfairly strips landowners of their rights to use their land, blocks development and escalates its cost, makes housing unaffordable, misdirects resources, hurts the economy, intentionally increases traffi c congestion, impairs quality of life, and reduces tax revenues needed for schools and public services.
Seeing this book reminded me of a very interesting article entitled Goodbye to the Public-Private Divide by Eric Freyfogle, a law professor at the University of Illinois. While his article touches on numerous issues, one of his main points goes something like this: Private rights in land are defined by law which, in turn, only is legitimate if in the public interest. Thus, private rights in land only are legitimate if they serve the public good.

This changes the dialogue from "I can do whatever I want with my land so long as I don't harm my neighbors" to "I have rights in my land so long as it serves the public good."

Obviously, these two views of property rights are at opposite ends of the spectrum. While I like the logic of Mr. Freyfogle's position, in actuality, a court likely would define property rights somewhere between the two--or at least interpret the public good necessary under Mr. Freyfogle's analysis quite broadly.

Turning back to Mr. Moshofsky, there are two points worth mentioning here. First, his property rights view is an obvious expansion of the property rights afforded by the U.S. and state constitutions and law. Regulatory takings certainly exist, but not on this scale--Mr. Moshofsky would create property rights where they previously didn't exist. Second, his book description states that one problem of land use regulation is that it "makes housing unaffordable." If regulation increases housing costs (and property values), removing regulation must decreases costs (and value). Thus, we are just moving money around. Do we want concentrated urban areas of high property values and rural areas of lower property values? Or, do we want a sprawling landscape where everything is moderately valued but there is no open landscape? Just moving money around (and altering the landscape), right?

Going back to Mr. Freyfogle, where is the public good in Measure 37-style property rights? After all, if the law--and an implemented measure 37 becomes law--doesn't serve the public good, it should be an invalid exercise of governmental power. Right?

A little slow

Well, I got out fishing again for a few hours yesterday evening. After missing two fish, I finally got a small brown, about 12 inches, to net on the same black stonefly imitation I was fishing last Saturday. Although the weather, time of day, and personal incompetence may have played a role in my low catch rate, I'll blame the fact that The Wife probably used all our household's good fish karma last weekend. Either that, or I shouldn't have left the dog at home.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The First Pictures of my Wife on the Internet

So we finally got out, after weeks away from water. As usual, I had the river figured out within the first hour or so.* And, as the pattern of these things go, my wife still caught the big one.

Everything started according to plan though. Invitation to fish private water with a good friend within 45 minutes of town - check. Wake up to a few new inches of snow - well, check. Drive out of snow and into sunshine - much better.
See epic wildlife on the way to the river - check. Yup, it's a moose ladies and gentlemen. Furry canine in tow with exceptionally long tongue - oh yeah.

We were set to fish Cow Pond Creek**, a tailwater that flows into the Still Atmosphere River** about 40 miles out of town. About a week or two ago, the local ranchers ramped up the flows for irrigation season but the water was clear so we thought there might be a few hungry/foolish fish around.
We were right, I caught the first fish after changing to a large black stonefly immitation:
I ended up catching a few more nice browns, but my good nature eventually won out and I relinquished my last stonefly imitation to The Wife.
We fished around in a really nice riffle/run for a bit before moving on upstream. The water was nice and clear so you could see the good lies in the riffle as darker blue water. After struggling with strong wind, heavy flies and wind-resistant strike indicators, The Wife switched over to dry flies and tied on a stimulator. After missing the first fish, The Wife got into a Lunker. She fought it for a short while before landing it and getting this smile maker:
All in all, a very nice day on the water. Thanks, Mr. Cupcakes.
* Those who have fished with me before will recognize this as sarcasm. Those who were fishing with me on this occasion will recognize this as a lie.
** Place names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hungry Horses

Well, another Wednesday has passed and Lander's crime rate appears to be skyrocketing--although the severity of the crimes remains steady. This week, Lander Emergency Medical Services received what must be a record 29 calls. Here are the highlights:
April 28

At 8:04 a.m., police received a call about some horses in Lander that allegedly were not begin fed adequately. [ed. these horses seem to have warranted additional calls throughout the week]

At 11:26 a.m., police received a call from a Riverton woman who said her neighbor's dog had just killed one of her chickens.

April 30

At 1:25 p.m., police received a call about a man who appeared to be naked who was seen outside of a storage facility in Lander. [ed. at 1:25 in the afternoon!]

May 2

At 10:26 p.m., police received a call from a Riverton woman who said she was staying at a hotel in Riverton and had locked herself out.

May 5

At 9:11 p.m., police received a call from a Lander woman about her black bull that [was] loose and headed toward the highway.