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Eminent Domain

Who is Molly Ivins?

From columnist Molly Ivins:

I think we have alienated our allies and have killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein ever did.

Oh, really! And how many did Hussein kill? I’ve read numbers like 300,000 killed by Hussein. You’re telling me the USA has killed more than that? Are these combatants, civilians or both>? You Molly Ivins have made an outlandish statrment and you had better be prepared to back it up, because all kinds of hell are about to descend on your head.

Eminent Domain – What to do?

“We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it.”
Ben Franklin

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. Those nations always progress through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith,
from spiritual faith to great courage,
from great courage to liberty,
from liberty to abundance,
from abundance to selfishness,
from selfishness to complacency,
from complacency to dependency,
from dependency back into bondage.”

–Alexander Fraser Tytler Lord Woodhouselee (1748-1813), “The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic”, Scottish historian at Edinburgh University

Are we doomed to repeat this sequence? Madison wrote in 1782, the bottom line of government is to protect property rights. From property rights all else flows. J. David Breemer, of the Pacific Legal Foundation, writes of the framers of the Constitution, in Oh Madison, Where Art Thou?

You cannot have freedom of religion if you cannot build and keep a church; free expression is repressed if you live in fear for your place of work; a free press cannot exist if you cannot own the tools of the trade and a place to use them.

As Virginian Arthur Lee reminded his fellow colonials on the eve of the Revolution, “the right of property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty.” Upon the signing of the Constitution, John Adams reiterated that “’property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.’”

What are we to do? We can make it our mission to educate ourselves.

* – Find out what is going on– In your state, for example, what does your constitution say about eminent domain? Are there cases of use of eminent domain going on now?
* – Document your findings!
* – Does your state use “urban renewal” and how does that come about?
* – Now share that information with others.
* – Write your elected representatives about your concerns.
* – Network with others with similar interests.
* – Don’t get discouraged!

Eminent Domain

“Amputee Wannabes”!

When I think I’ve heard it all (hat tip to FreeRepublic):

Two Australian philosophers believe surgeons should be allowed to cut off the healthy limbs of some “amputee wannabes”.

Neil Levy and Tim Bayne argue that patients obsessed with having a limb amputated should be able to have it safely removed by a surgeon, as long as they are deemed sane.

* That surgery costs an arm and a leg. by ko_kyi
* (When it comes to government disability) they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. by Charles Henrickson (Going out on a limb. . . .)
* Just remember to quit when you’re a head. by cripplecreek
* Perhaps it would be better to treat the underlying disease rather than cutting off a limb to spite a nose? by jwalsh07
* These people are fighting for the right to clip and pare arms. by Charles Henrickson (“Two arms!” I say.)
* Train them for the bomb squad. Rush the training. Problem solved. by muir_redwoods

Can I see a show of hand of all those in favor of giving people what they want!

Coming July 4th, Carnival of Liberty #1

Carnival of Liberty #1

Come one, come all. The first Carnival of Liberty is coming this weekend appropriately on July 4th!

If you believe our government has overstepped its bounds, if you are mad about the Kelo decision, if you believe in a smaller government, submit your best post to carnivalofliberty@gmail.com by 3PM on Sunday, July 3rd.

This week’s host, The Unrepentant Individual, will choose a winner, as well as second and third place. All entries will be linked on the Life, Liberty, Property Group Blog

Rowan University, Might makes Right!!

Back in 2004, a fight ensued between Rowan University, a private property owner, and Walmart. The private property owner contacted with representatives of Walmart to sell his 25 acres, part of a 115 acre plat. Apparently, Rowan University failed to negotiate. The University offered $2.85 Million for the 25 acres, property it could have purchased a number of years ago. After the property was purchased by Walmart, it was rezoned, commercial, and Walmart had big plans that were approved by the Harrison Township. The Township could see $1 Million in new tax revenues from the property. Failing to win at the negotiating table, Rowan University filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in late October, 2004. The documents sought to condemn the property and to allow the state university to acquire the land through eminent domain.

In January of 2005, Wal-Mart Loses Land To University

Because Rowan is a state institution, their board has the right to acquire land for college purposes via eminent domain. To hold onto the land, Wal-Mart had to charge that the university abused its power of eminent domain.

Kelo can’t happen in New Jersey because “The New Jersey Constitution has a higher standard”

Now why do I care about this case? First, two private parties negotiated and reached a mutual decision. The University failed to negotiate in good faith, on property they had every opportunity to buy earlier. Then they resorted to force to get what they wanted over the objections of the property owner, Walmart, and Harrison Township. How is this any different than what Tony Soprano would do?

Eminent Domain

Richard M. Scrushy, Not Guilty

Wow! CBS and Mike Wallace spent a lot of time interviewing HealthSouth founder Richard M. Scrushy. They tried their best to paint him as a crook. Now, today, according to the WSJ,

a federal jury acquitted Scrushy of all charges of participating in a $2.7 billion accounting fraud at the chain of rehabilitation and outpatient-surgery clinics he led for nearly 20 years.

In your face, CBS!!!

What is Cramer Hill?

Since the Kelo decision, I’m reading that a number of states have constitutions that prohibit “Private to Private” eminent domain usage. From the CouriorPost Online

Opponents of redevelopment zones in South Jersey said Thursday they are disappointed but not defeated by the court’s (Kelo) decision.

“They didn’t take into account how elected officials are influenced by developers,” said Carmen Rivera, president of the Cramer Hill Residents Association, a group opposed to a $1.3 billion redevelopment proposed for its neighborhood. “I’m saddened.”

The Cramer Hill plan would uproot more than 1,000 households and businesses.

Olga Pomar, a lawyer for South Jersey Legal Services, which is contesting the Cramer Hill redevelopment in state court, said the fight is by no means over.

“One of the things the Supreme Court said is that these issues should be left to the states,” Pomar said.


Supporters of redevelopment called the decision both expected and welcome.

“The decision follows what the court has been saying for the last century,” said Jim Maley, the mayor of Collingswood and an attorney who specializes in redevelopment law in New Jersey.

And, he suggested, the case was never critical for New Jersey.

“The New Jersey Constitution has a higher standard,” Maley said, requiring a blight determination before eminent domain can be invoked, something that is not required in Connecticut.

Camden (NJ) has declared the Cramer Hill neighborhood blighted and Mount Holly has done the same with Mount Holly Gardens, a townhouse development.

“We feel the neighborhood is not blighted at all,” Gershuny said of Cramer Hill. “It’s a very viable neighborhood.”

South Jersey Legal Services’ suits also accuse Camden and Mount Holly of civil rights violations, as the two neighborhoods declared blights are minority neighborhoods.

Randy Primas, Camden’s chief operating officer, said the city wasn’t using eminent domain to benefit developers or to push out Cramer Hill’s current residents.

The developers are going to sell the new homes to current residents for well below their market rate, or at the homeowner’s existing mortgage, he said.

“This is an effort to keep them in,” Primas said.

How can a developer sell a new home well below the market rate or at the homeowner’s existing mortgage? Who is subsidizing him, the buyers of the other units or the government?

Eminent Domain

Lodi Terrorist Followup

From Hyscience, a followup to the story Lodi Men Arrested for al Qaeda Ties, More Lowdown on Lodi: Media Continue Painting With Whitewash

Now, Adil Khan, 47, has helped put Lodi, a San Joaquin County city of 62,000, on the international map — not for his modern ideas or distinguished background, but because he apparently is the target of a federal terrorism investigation.

Note to Tourism Boards, think Lodi. As long as they spell the name right!

Economic Implications of Kelo

A number of blogs have written on a subject I’ve posted about, that of the economic implications of Kelo v New London. The Entrepreneurial Mind, included in Carnival of the Capitalists, is one.

Up until this decision, government could only take private property for what was considered truly “the common good,” such as roads, hospitals, military bases, or utilities. Now those limitations are gone. Large corporations (such as the Best Buy case I wrote about yesterday) and developers with deep pockets can collude with local governments to hatch all kinds of plans to take away property. Some are arguing that governmental officials will surely use common sense. But we know better.

MyBlogSite has a satire Wal-Mart To Demolish The Supreme Court For A New Super Supreme Center

…today’s decision, based in part on foreign law and plagiarized from a respected jurist Robert Mugabe’s latest law review article – the Constitution of Zimbabwe, will help expand the chain of our small retail shops as we take baby steps around the globe.

Resistance is futile! asks

Do you trust your government to tell you what your land is worth to you?

Soccer Dad writes about Kelo and emminent domain in relation to a sports stadium.

A subsidized sports stadium will shift economic development away from manufacturing and toward the service economy. Moreover, a stadium probably will not generate a net increase in the number of jobs in the service sector. It is likely that new business start-ups in the stadium neighborhood will be negated by business failures in other areas of the city.

As has been demonstrated with Kelo, The Big Picture recognizes that for your investment safety, you need to follow politics.

The bottom line is that politics, as distasteful a subject as there is for those of us with a quantitative/technical bend, significantly impacts markets. We see it in obvious issues such as tax policy and Social Security — but its also in subtler areas, such as market sentiment and structural issues like the current account deficit.

And I’ve saved the best for last. The Becker-Posner Blog must have been reading my stuff, for they agree with me about the negative economic implications of decisions like Kelo in On Eminent Domain-BECKER

I am not claiming that a system without eminent domain would work perfectly–it would not. But modern governments have more than enough power through the power to tax and regulate. Although eminent domain can be considered just another (but highly intrusive) form of regulation, condemnation is too powerful and easy a regulatory form. “Power corrupts” is an old saying, which explains why condemnation has indeed been frequently abused (see Martin Anderson’s classic study, The Federal Bulldozer). It allows governments to avoid the market test of whether a proposed project adds value in the sense that a project is worthwhile even after owners of property are bought out through regular market proceedings.

Eminent Domain

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