, Newburyport, MA


April 4, 2012

Property rights are human rights

To the editor:

I was born in Newburyport and have lived in the area all of my life, some of those years in Newburyport. I have been watching the debate over the proposed Local Historic District from the other side of the river with much interest. To me this is a simple issue of property rights. We all know that government has a legitimate need to curtail the rights of its citizens for the greater good. However, we have also come to expect that when our government resorts to this, there will be a strong justification presented. So far, all I have seen to justify this curtailment of property rights is the personal tastes of a group of old-home enthusiasts.

The economic benefit of a nice, clean downtown with some standardization of signage and building codes seems reasonable and well advised. However, the attempts to erode private ownership rights and take control of homes and buildings by fiat is concerning. This is especially concerning when the belligerent party in this struggle makes no attempt to acknowledge that rights are being curtailed and no attempt to justify that infringement with arguments stronger than their own personal tastes. It is difficult to sit back and watch a group of old-home enthusiasts attempting to use the supreme power of government to trample on the rights of my neighbors as callously as if they were attempting to install a new stop sign.

I do not own a home in the proposed local historic district or in Newburyport. But I do have some skin in the game. Property rights are human rights. When human rights are violated, it is everyone's business.

Matthew Talas


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