The Discovery Channel has a new car restoration series called “Carspotting.” The show’s young entrepreneurs claim they are twenty years younger than anyone else out there who is finding and restoring muscle cars, and because they are young, they have knowledge and access to new technology that aids them in “spotting” old relics.
The young men, Niko the “car savant” and brothers Carlos and Pedro, have a great entrepreneurial background and message. They work hard and pay high attention to detail. They’ve understood from a young age the value of a dollar and have terrific stories of money-making, turning small investments into great profits. Their work should inspire many in the younger generation to think outside the box, skip the college experience, and find work using their own mind and hands.
But these young car restorers do one thing that makes me uneasy. They use drones to “spy” on private property to find these old, defunct vehicles they plan to restore.
It’s rather offensive that this type of spying is glossed over by the executives of a major channel like Discovery. And not only is it glossed over, but it basically serves as the premise of the show. Those of us concerned with what this means for private property rights need to speak up about things like this. Drones over private land — whether sent by private people or government agents — are worrisome and raise serious questions.
I live in a very rural area. Hunting land, fields, and centennial farms connect every township in every county for hundreds of miles. Nearly every single old farm has a “junkyard,” full of old cars and machinery that have fallen into disrepair over decades. If someone uses a drone to capture video of anything on these private acres, to me that is trespassing.
During the Obama administration, rural Americans were wary of drone usage. Some grassroots candidates for office even made it a part of their agenda to tackle the worrisome use of drones on private land. I remember some slick consultants from D.C. making fun of campaign commercials where the candidate promised to shoot drones out of the sky if they were seen over his property.
But it wasn’t funny for rural landowners who were understandably upset about what drone use by government might mean for their own privacy. One reason for their alarm was the overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency, along with overzealous environmental activists who were encouraged to help crack down on all potential environmental hazards that could be seen from the road.
So when the specter arrived of drones overhead, potentially spying on private land in order to force landowners to dispose of their own property for the sake of an imagined danger to the environment, it crossed a line into nanny-state politics that would cost some farmers their entire farm and fleet.
At some point, the basic principle of “my land, my property, nun-ya-business” occurred to landowners and turned many of them against the visible tentacles of big government.
Many seemingly intelligent people have surmised that drone usage, whether private or government, over private property is not illegal, since the airspace over one’s property is regulated by the FAA. In fact, they claim it is not trespassing, and if a landowner were to shoot down a drone, he could be prosecuted, potentially by the government, since the government regulates air space.
You see, dear citizen, the government owns the air you breathe, so don’t even try to make a case against this obvious violation of your rights.
As for the “Carspotting” series, these young fellas ought to pursue their dreams of restoring muscle cars, because there is basically nothing cooler in the world than what Detroit used to be known for.
But Discovery and these youngsters ought to step back, just as a test of the principle, and wonder: If they restored grand pianos instead of cars, would it be right to walk into people’s homes, undetected, to spot potential profit?