Jun 25 2005
A comment on the previous posting on this subject mentioned Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky as a history lesson of sorts. While this example reflects the use of eminent domain as we have hostorically thoght of it – to remove economic blight, it reminds us how we got where we are today. One have to wonder, in hindsight, were there other ways to solve the economics?
In this case, FDR’s efforts to pull us out of the great depression did trample many people’s personal property rights. And this is how it is remembered now:
This second lake also allowed the creation of a great National Recreation Area – albeit at much personal sacrifice and cost to the people whose families had lived there for generations. The land between the rivers had become the Land Between the Lakes and the village of Grand Rivers recreated itself as a destination for those wishing to “go to the lakes”.
It is clear this issue has ignited a back lash amongst the vast majority of people who do not feel government should allocate life’s rewards. We can talk about ‘limited’ government and ‘critical services’ and debate where these grey areas end, but this is different.
When the government decides who deserves the greater rewards in life – and is determined by who can better bribe, er..generate more taxes for the government – we have something very different than a government for national defense and the common good. We now have a government who rewards those who feed it the most candy, the most tribute, the most treasure. We have the makings of a system where big businesses collude with politicians to solve all our poblems for us, by taking property and taxes from us.
And this is the problem. One group of people need money, our money, to solve our problems for us, so they can feel like they have accomplished something in life. These people are not driven by personal, monetary gain. They are driven by the need to be Santa Claus, or Mother Theresea, Or Maddame Currie, etc. They need to come to people’s rescue. A position of adulation from, and superior ability over, the poor victims – us saps.
The other group is the classic line-the-pockets so we can have the most toys to impress people with. Nuff said.
Some states had incredible foresight on this issue have established some laws – though how strong they are is hard to determine. Others are scrambling to take action (or else find themselves out of elected office).
HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell and some legislative leaders promised yesterday to review the state’s eminent domain laws after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that New London can take homes for a private development project.
At least eight states — Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington — already forbid the use of eminent domain for economic development unless it is to eliminate blight. Other states either expressly allow private property to be taken for private economic purposes or have not spoken clearly to the question.
As we have seen one person’s economic development is another person’s blight. Side note: this is why playing fast and lose with words can really desttoy a society. All our laws, contracts and agreements (the rules of interchange we use to live together in a peaceful and dynamic society) are based on words and their precise meaning. Start making words vague and you open yourself up to people who will use that vaguness to game the system.
Anyway, this is a woefully inadequate list of states with some protection. For those of us who live outside this select group of states, it is time to act. Thankfully my state VA is one of two states having a governor’s election this year, so we can make our voices heard immediately.