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Choking on the Dust

Justice Stephens, in his decision permitting the taking of private property for “economic development purposes” (i.e. giving it to another private party) made a couple of arguments to justify such abusive takings:

  1. So long as the city puts together a “comprehensive” plan, and so long as it allows for proper review then taking for private use is fine
  2. Taking for private use is fine so long as you cannot identify a priori, WHO will be receiving the benefit of the taking.
  3. The court cannot be burdened with ascertaining whether or not the project that is requiring the takings is actually going to come to fruition.

Here was what the benevolent government took, for the public good:


Here is what the wise planners had thoroughly planned and reviewed and promised would be built in its place:

… umm, I can’t find it, but I heard it was going to be pretty spiffy.

And four years after the takings case was decided, here is what stands in its place – a real revenue generator and pleasant thing to look at!


Indeed, the city planners in New London met the three conditions. First, they wrote down all of the destruction they were going to inflict on individuals, and heard them in public complain about it (to no avail). Second, they never were able to identify the private beneficiaries, so it must have been public use. In fact Pfiser pulled out of the deal too! And third, they proved what all of us knew to be true, but never so overtly – that the government can effectively destroy property, as promised.

So, on this 4th of July, as you ironically celebrate by watching fireworks shows sponsored by governments themselves, remember that at any moment, beyond the systematic looting of your productive efforts through taxation and regulation, can take your home. And they can take it merely by claiming someone can make better use of the land than you. And not only that, they do not need to follow through on such use. Taken together this implies that the benevolent government can muster up support for some redevelopment project, and do so by promising parks or bus terminals, etc. … and then never have to put a park or a bus terminal, but rather can let the land sit idle, or have all of the benefits go to other private parties. And you have no recourse.

The Kelo decision ought to have been the Stamp Act of our time. Sadly, we are too rich to be bothered by it. Here’s a wonderful video talking about the case:

5 Responses to “Choking on the Dust”

  1. Bradley Calder says:

    BTW, have a great holiday with your family!

  2. Harry says:

    Back when David Souter was confirmed, Joe Biden, legal scholar from Weidner with a 190 IQ, got into a colloquy on “strict scrutiny” which is a subject not discussed in the Constitution nor in the Federalist Papers, nor anywhere except, I think, in twentieth century law schools, back when the perfessers were enamored of disregarding property rights and following their progressive urges.

    I was watching this, being a news junkie, but also being a farmer, owning unencumbered property. Biden asked Souter whether he would apply strict scrutiny toward the Fifth Amendment, which requires just compensation when the government takes your property, as in when your township zones your property from, say, two lots per acre to one lot per five acres and subtracting out all the steep slopes, wetlands, riparian buffers, and whatever else the supervisors want to do to preserve their view of your cornfield.

    Strict scrutiny would require them to give you a few million dollars to take everything but your right to just walk on it.

    Well, Joe remarked to Dave Souter that, if we had to do that, then we’d have to spend a huge amount of money, and Souter nodded his head, Joe smiled, and they went on.

    These were the days when we watched these proceedings on PBS, and it may have been when Wintercow and Speedmaster were learning to ride bicycles, or reading Road to Serfdom as teenagers.

    The question is not just the right to take your land for a park or a road, which they can, but how much they will pay you.

    The perverse result has been that farmers around here figured this out, and developed their land before it was taken by regulation.

    I join Bradley in wishing you a great holiday, and hope the Wintercows and calves have clean straw and a grassy meadow.

  3. Michael says:

    How can you possibly pay attention to something like this when Michael Jackson is dead!!!

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