Friday, June 24, 2005

The Count for 2005 is 20

I have been pretty calm for most topics this year, but the Supreme Court's ruling in the Kelo case has be vastly steamed. Stephen Bainbridge writes at Tech Central Station with several sources expounding on the nature of private property as essential to liberty. You might as well kiss your property rights away if someone else can make a reasonable claim of making a "better" use of your land. The danger of the decision is that it has broadened the definition of "public good" to include a private enterprise that can bring in more tax revenue. Call me cynical (you won't be the first) but I can't see how this is anything but a chance for local governments to be bribed with their citizens' own tax dollars.

Just to be clear, this is not the free market. Eminent domain denies the owner of the property the ability to include intangible values in the price. For instance, one family who just moved in next door to a family who owned their house for three generations would have more or less the same "fair value" assessed to their homes. On the other hand, if a new city council were to dislike the WalMart that went in the year before, nothing is saying that they can't take the big box and turn it into a mall for the displaced Mom and Pop's shops. Look out for political fights in town councils all over the country to get really nasty in the near future.

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