Insanity and the Ice Cream Truck

It will be no surprise to you that I hate noise.  One of the most irritating sources of it around here comes from an ice cream truck which strolls through the neighborhood in figure eight patterns, looking for every last sucker that wants to buy some garbage that would make McDonald’s taste like Haagen-Dazs.  As this mountebank invades the neighborhood, he plays a dreadful melody over his loudspeaker, an annoying, lilting thing in a fast 6/8 time which is enough to make one want to scream—and I do.  Worse is the fact that he lets the music play while he’s stopped and serving whichever poor sucker is too lazy to walk downtown to one of our fine ice cream places.  If this episode were to occur only once per night, I could live with it, but it repeats itself several times over the course of an hour or so, until the Ice Cream Monster goes to terrorize another neighborhood.

Noise and private property rights.  This is a tricky issue, because the Ice Cream Monster is using a public street, and yet his noise is violating the inner sanctums of private houses.  Murray Rothbard discussed this in his book The Ethics of Liberty and suggested that someday maybe there would be devices that a property owner could install to repel noise.  It strikes me as a cop-out, honestly—Rothbard’s excellent work notwithstanding.   This noise issue is the one area in which I cannot come up with an adequate solution using the private property rights paradigm.  Ideas?

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3 Responses

  1. It is tricky indeed, but how does it seem fair that we can restrict the noise coming from private residences, but not noises made on a public street? Is that backward?

    I suppose if we look at everything from a theoretical standpoint (which I am oft prone to do) it becomes too black & white. If only things were that easy.

  2. There is an ice cream van that comes around my neighborhood as well; broadcasting irritating ding ding-a-ling music, and selling the same crap you describe. Honestly, I don’t know how he can afford to continue, since anyone can buy better stuff elsewhere. Some kids will eat anything…and their parents let them and/or join in!

  3. I am looking forward to a day where ice-cream trucks will be banned from blasting their tunes throughout our neighborhoods. It is not only invasive, but a kind of torture, in a Clockwork Orange kind of way. You could be relaxing in your backyard, trying to take a nap and all of a sudden the creepy tune is omnipresent for at least a half hour while they circle the neighborhood. Somehow I think the ice-cream truck organizations have sold everyone on the idea that this is an important part of childhood and it would be unfair to deprive kids of their ice-cream. Alas, tough argument to beat!

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