Monday, August 08, 2005

Ding, Dong, our Rights are Dead

The Supreme Court recently decided that a town could seize property under the doctrine of eminent domain - so far, nothing unusual, but here's the twist - and give it to another private party. Previously, the power had been limited to seizing private property for important public projects.

But as if the status quo weren't bad enough, the less-sane half of our darling Supreme Court has upheld the power of government to redistribute property as benefits the government. The rationale in the particular case was that tax revenues would be greater with the properties in question under one particular owner rather than another.

Oh... I just can't express how vexed I am. But badly enough to say "vexed", which should be a pretty good indication.

At this point, all pretense of Constitutionality is gone, as I see it. Out government is an outlaw from itself, refusing to recognize its own laws - and I'm not the first to recognize this. Judge Andrew Napolitano, with whom I hardly agree about anything, has written a lovely book, "Constitutional Chaos", in which this nasty proclivity is hashed out in some detail.

What to do? For now, close your eyes, tap your heels three times, and say... well, you know.


David said...

Whoa Tim! You're back! Where have you been?

I had a conversation about this with a friend of mine and he actually agreed with the SC. He reasoned that valid so as to avoid times where a developer wants to build something and that one last person is holding out for no good reason other than they want to be stubborn.

To my everlasting shame, I did not remind him that economics is not a perfect process and to move in the opposite direction to try to make it perfect does more harm than good. Private property is one of the cornerstones of progress and capitialism.

I did mention, however, that it is their property; we don't legally punish people for being stupid, nor should we. If the developer really wants the land, he'll shell out more money; everyone has their buyout price.

People who endorse this procedure often mistakenly think that the goal of government is to collect taxes. If the government needs more money, raise taxes or cut funding. Don't loot in a whole other way; that just opens yet another door.

Tim said...

You got it David! 'Nuff said!


Tim said...

Where have I been? Well, Russia for one :-P In fact, in a week or so, I'll be there again... Craziness, David, craziness!