Public Parks or Private Property

Janelle Castillo – Honor Bound

In a nation where the obesity rates are on a steady rise along with physical inactivity, it’s easy to see the benefits of why there needs to be an increase of parks. Yet, a nation must also consider the possible consequences of creating more parks and how their freedom might be at stake. Luckily Ludwig von Mises has already pointed these possible consequences in his book, Liberty and Property.

Ludwig von Mises makes his distaste of government tactics very clear in chapter V of his book. In short, he states that the government uses coercion- the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats [1] – in order to extract the needed taxes from its citizens so that they may be able to fund a public commodity. [2] For example, the roads one uses to travel every day are created through the funding the government gets by taxing citizens. The only way the government can successfully collect taxes is through threatening that heavily armed soldiers will take any disobeyer to jail. While many people might take this interpretation of von Mises and translate it to that he believes that the government is a necessary evil, they are wrong. Instead, von Mises believes that the government is a necessary institution that only has one means of collecting taxes which is through the threat of violence. Yet, in order to have the maximum amount of freedom, one must obtain private property and avoid dependency on the government as much as possible.

While von Mises’ argument does make an interesting point about freedom and income it also brings up a question Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics, posed in his epilogue which was, “Will we have strip malls in 2050?”[3] As a person living in a society, one must come to the conclusion for themselves if their life is about maximizing their utility or income. Although, it is true to say that if a nation does agree that their goal is to maximize their utility it will come through higher taxes which inevitably is stemming from the violence von Mises describes. Yet, these consequences may not be as nearly as detrimental as the impending doom of a 42% of Americans becoming obese as early as year 2030 [4}.

The positive externalities- when a consumption or production of a good causes a benefit to a third party [5] – from building of public parks can create a healthier and overall better future for Americans. For example, when a nation builds more parks because people now have a free and beautiful are to walk and are then less likely to become obese. And so even though public parks are just an outcome of threats from the government, a nation could not civilly impose a healthier society without these threats.


[1] “Oxford Dictionaries – Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Grammar.” Oxford Dictionaries | English. Accessed December 05, 2016.

[2] Mises, Ludwig Von. Liberty and Property,

[3] Wheelan, Charles “Epilogue.” Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. New York: Norton, 2002. Print.

[4] Sifferlin, Alexandra “Fat Forecast: 42% of Americans Could Be Obese by 2030.” Time. May 07, 2012 Accessed December 05, 2016.

[5] Wheelan, Charles “Ch.3 Government and the Economy.” Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. New York: Norton, 2002. Print.

Picture citation:

[6] “On the impossibility of a Utopia. “The Odyssey. Accessed December 05, 2016

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