Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Nats, Washington DC in dispute over "free speech" and property rights

Today station WJLA in Washington DC mentioned an interesting “property rights” problem. The local government of “quasi home rule” in Washington put up the money for the new Nationals Stadium on the Anacostia River, displacing many residents and businesses in an effort to raise property values and gentrify a previously poor neighborhood. So the City wants to put up a sign reading “taxation without representation” on a billboard within sight line of most fans at the Nats’ baseball games.

But the Nationals management balked. It apparently believes that if it permits any political advertising at all in the ballpark, it will have to take all comers for anything (gay marriage, “family values”, 2nd Amendment, etc.). Baseball, it maintains, has no business intervening in the political views of fans. Baseball is show business and entertainment.

But the City owns the stadium. It seems that the City has a case to make its biggest grievance known. The TWR message appears on Washington DC license plates.

How does the libertarian idea about property rights play out on this one?

The Nats lost today, 4-2, to the nemesis Florida Marlins. They’ve been hit harder by injuries than almost any time in history, and have to field an essentially minor league lineup. Even so, they’re winning about 35% of their games. Will Zimmermann, Kearns, Milledge and Johnson ever return?

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