Reason.tv’s latest piece, Fitness Crackdown: Santa Monica Gets Tough On Trainers, points out that the city wants to start regulating personal trainers who use the public park to hold their classes:
This is exactly the kind of regulation you can make fun of on YouTube, because it seems so silly and counterproductive — but what is the proper libertarian answer to a group of people using public property to their own ends in a way that crowds out other people or makes that public property less valuable?
Should the 90 percent of the town that celebrates Christmas be allowed to put up their Christmas displays on public property?
Should you be allowed to walk around naked on a public beach? On public roads?
Should we all be allowed to graze our sheep on public lands?
The left-libertarian position seems to be that once you declare something public, putting any limits on behavior involving it — besides the usual no force or fraud laws — is tyranny, with some weird edge cases, of course.
The right-libertarian position seems to be that you shouldn’t declare anything truly public. Someone, or some entity, should own any asset worth fighting over, so they can set the ground rules — and we need to package property rights up cleverly enough that the people who benefit from something are the ones who pay the costs, etc.
If this park existed within a corporate park, a condo complex, or a shopping mall, it wouldn’t appear on the libertarian radar.