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?