August 3rd, 2005


But I Had Good Reasons To Steal: Defenders of Kelo Speak Out

In an article in today's Wall Street Journal ($, so no link provided), we have an uninitentionally hilarious look at the people who defend the Kelo decision: taking private land from one person to give to another person for money. Evidently, the dissents in the case were unread, so let's deal with the statements by its advocates:

We begin with a vacant piece of land in an old suburb of St. Louis. The mayor, quoted in the piece, characterizes it as "a dump", and wants to have a developer put in retail, loft, and condo space. The person who owns the property is not interested. The developer is appalled: it wasn't even a house that was stopping him, it was a piece of vacant land. I have a simple solution for the developer: Pay what the land is worth to the person who owns it. Not what it is worth in your projection of what you'd like it to be worth to make your development project work out. What does that mean? Well, let's start by noting that people are not wildly irrational, they just have their preferences. Take a moment to work out the owner's, and think about giving him what he wants.

Another paragraph notes that the Skyland Shopping Center may be cancelled due to an upcoming law forbidding federal funds from helping communities that steal land. "Why is it so hard for us to get a shopping center we can use?" plaintively cries a vice president of a neighborhood association. Because you can't see the person who actually owns the property as another human being whose needs should be paid attention to? Because, in my experience, neighborhood associations are so routinely drunk with their own power that they no longer care what individual property owners want? Sure, that might not be the case here. But I note that "we" in her quote does not include the person who owns the property, just a vision in her head of a shopping center she wants. I would characterize that as disrespectful, and I suspect the landowner does, too. I note with some amusement that it is currently a commerical area, and has jobs in it, yet the city continues to say that a new development will "create jobs" -- presumably, no one really wants a cocktail or to have their nails done in his world, so what's the loss of a liquor store or a few nail salons? They miss the point: it's a living for those who are there now, and those people don't want money for land, they want a way to make a living with the structures they have now. Are you promising them that? Probably not. As the lawyer for some of the property owners puts it, "Why should they lose a business just so people can shop at Target?"

Good question.

Tarragon Corp, a redeveloper, is cited in the article, saying that without eminent domain, they would lose half the potential sites for redevelopment. I have a suggestion: develop the remaining half, and, if it improves the neighborhood as you say, there will be enough to compensate those who lose their property for its loss. Then you can redevelop the other half. Unless it isn't all that much improvement, and you need to shave every penny? In which case, why are you there?

The Institute for Justice is unfazed by these "woes" as they should be. They correctly see that what is happening is taking property from one person and giving it to another. If we wanted all property socially owned, we would have that in the Constitution: but instead, we have something quite different. It's a pity that the Supreme Court couldn't see that. It would be even more of a pity if we said that the Supreme Court was right about how things ought to be.
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Voter Intimidation: Just Republicans Harassing Minorities and Poor People?

I know, that characterization is all you've heard from the media. But, as the Captain notes, we now have more facts available.

While Democrats routinely accuse Republicans of voter intimidation and suppression, neither party has a clean record on the issue. Instead, the evidence shows that Democrats waged aggressive intimidation and suppression campaigns against Republican voters and volunteers in 2004. Republicans have not been exempt from similar criticism in this area, as alleged voter intimidation and suppression activity by GOP operatives led the Republican National Committee to sign a consent decree repudiating such tactics in 1982. However, a careful review of the facts shows that in 2004, paid Democrat operatives were far more involved in voter intimidation and suppression efforts than their Republican counterparts. Examples include:

* Paid Democrat operatives charged with slashing tires of 25 Republican get-out-the-vote vans in Milwaukee on the morning of Election Day.

* Misleading telephone calls made by Democrat operatives targeting Republican voters in Ohio with the wrong date for the election and faulty polling place information.

* Intimidating and deceiving mailings and telephone calls paid for by the DNC threatening Republican volunteers in Florida with legal action.

* Union-coordinated intimidation and violence campaign targeting Republican campaign offices and volunteers resulting in a broken arm for a GOP volunteer in Florida.

The best way to solve this? I'll take suggestions. I like publicly discussing things, but the newspapers aren't very good at reporting them, so that item slips down the agenda.

UPDATE: The Captain has become concerned that this may be just another interest group disguising itself as objective. I refer you to his weblog for updates.
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