But is an individual free to then do whatever he wishes to that land, even if his actions adversely affect the community’s air, water, infrastructure, and environment? For instance, if I do something on my land that pollutes the air, possibly pollutes my neighbors’ wells and, at the very least, damages community infrastructure, what are the consequences to the common weal of the community? Seems to me the answer is obvious. There has always been tension between the individual and the community. Rousseau and others have written quite insightfully about that.
Like it or not, as another writer has put it, individual action and community action are inextricably linked. A community, after all, is a collection of individuals. We should not only look after one another (without being nosy or infringing on necessary privacies), but we should be stewards of the community we share.
That is why I find recent statements to the effect that, specifically with respect to hydrofracking, local communities are not capable of making informed decisions about its effects or permissibility patently offensive. It exhibits a troubling mix of ignorance and condescension - a toxic mix!
Life is, and always has been, local. Politics does not have a corner on the market. I would love to see legislation passed that prohibits foreign money from invading local elections. And I hope I am around when sanity regains its buoyancy and speech is restored to its rightful place in the conduct of national discourse. Speech is language. Money may facilitate speech, but it is not itself speech. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of these mega-billionaires so worried about their freedom to fill more barrels with cash would instead start a fund to provide scholarships for needy students or house the homeless. Do not hold your breath!