Friday, June 24, 2011

Littering in Libertopia

One thing residents of Libertopia figure out quickly is that as long as no force is initiated, nothing is stolen, or no one has their personal property damaged involuntarily, there really isn't a "right way" to get something done. Mutual consent is all that really matters.

As an example- A few days ago while I was visiting a friend he mentioned a problem he was having with a neighbor. The guy kept tossing cigarette butts, both tobacco and marijuana, onto the ground in his own yard. Of course, it is his property so no one has any say in that as long as the litter stays there. Reality means litter never stays put, and much of it was finding its way into my friend's yard.

So my friend spends a lot of time picking up his neighbor's trash that has blown into his yard. He was getting grumpy about that. Being the helpful person I am, I suggested he talk to his neighbor about the problem. He told me he has- many times. Nothing changes. His neighbor isn't a bad guy, just careless and a little lazy.

I then had another idea. I helped my friend build and set up a cute pedestal ashtray on the edge of his property nearest the neighbor; right where the neighbor normally leans against his car and smokes.

Then we called my friend's arbitration service. They sent an investigator out pretty quickly and we showed her the problem, as well as what we had just done with the ashtray. The investigator told us (although we already knew) that the ashtray was unnecessary considering the clear case against the neighbor, but that it did show good faith on my friend's part. She then looked up the neighbor's arbitration service and asked them to send someone out to discuss the options.

The neighbor (who wasn't home at the time) was contacted by his service and he and his representative met us all there. Fortunately he didn't deny that the litter was his- it could have taken longer to reach an agreement if he had- but he kept claiming he never tossed butts into my friend's yard, and that he couldn't control the weather, which is all true.

The arbiters listened to both sides and discussed the situation for a short time. They agreed that my friend's neighbor was responsible for the litter in my friend's yard, and they agreed on a monetary settlement as well as a warning to use the ashtray in the future, or dispose of the butts properly in some other way.

Now, here's the interesting part: My friend told his offending neighbor that he wasn't interested in the 5 ounces of silver that the arbitration had ruled he was owed. He just asked his neighbor to work with him from now on and seek solutions without having to use a third party. They even moved the new ashtray onto the neighbor's yard as a gift. Both seemed satisfied with the results. Most people would have probably gladly taken the silver- I probably would have myself- but my friend felt that good relations with his neighbor were worth at least that amount of money, and who am I to disagree?

So far he says things are much improved at his house. I doubt he'll have more trouble.


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