The Old-School Liberal

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom” — Friedrich Hayek

Eminent Domain: The Rise of the Command and Control Economy

Posted by Poorsummary on October 24, 2007

The eminent domain clause of the U.S. and most (if not all) states’ constitutions allows for the government to seize property (with compensation at what the court deems to be the “market” value) for public use. The economic rationale behind such an argument is that bargaining difficulties may prevent the construction of things like courts, post offices (can anyone remind me why the government runs the mail service?), water treatment plants, roads, and the like.

While an unfortunate violation of property rights, the use of eminent domain for such projects can perhaps be justified on utilitarian grounds; however, a recent trend has emerged in which state bureaucrats have begun seizing private property from one group of private individuals (often including the poor) and transferring it to another group of private individuals (often including big businesses). Alarmingly, the rationale for making such a seizure often is based on the grounds of increased tax revenue: e.g. “If I can give this block of low income housing to a private developer, if he can turn it into a high tax-revenue strip mall, and if the government can then use the revenues for the “public good,” then we are properly using eminent domain for projects intended for public use.”

Carlos Barragan

This argument is really no different than other socialist arguments for government control of property. A respect for personal property rights simply does not allow this type of justification for government coercion.

Carlos Barragan, the next victim of America’s socialism

A recent case involving government abuse of eminent domain can be found in The Community Youth Athletic Center (CYAC), founded by Carlos Barragan and his son, Carlos Jr. Currently, the city of National City, CA intends to seize the gym through eminent domain so that Jim Beauchamp can build high-end condos on that property. Jeff Rowes of The Institute for Justice reports:

“To make this happen, and to enable the city to transfer other private property to big business, National City is preparing to once again declare ‘blighted’ hundreds of commercial properties within a decades-old blight zone that covers two-thirds of the entire city. [This] enables National City to take low-tax-yielding small businesses and give that land to developers who promise to build high-tax-yielding properties, such as condos and big-box stores…As any visitor can attest, National City’s sprawling blight zone is remarkable for its lack of blight: the streets are lined with lovingly tended homes and thriving, though often humble, small businesses. Rather than embrace its grassroots entrepreneurs, however, National City plans to demolish them—and their dreams—in favor of retail mega-stores and upscale condos.”

For those of you hoping the Supreme Court will get involved to stop this blatant abuse of government power, I refer you to the infuriating Kelo decision. The full text can be found here (read the dissenting opinions, if nothing else). A NY Times article on the decision can be found here.


5 Responses to “Eminent Domain: The Rise of the Command and Control Economy”

  1. hendrickdeman said

    Wikipedia has this reason for the state monopoly of the Postal Service:

    “The Postal Service argues that the monopoly is necessary to fulfill its mission ‘to provide for an economically sound postal system that could afford to deliver letters between any two locations, however remote.’ Postal Service officials say that if private carriers are allowed to compete, then the Post Office would not be able to deliver mail to every American at the same price.”

    Methinks people living in urban areas are subsidizing people living in the boonies. Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure.

  2. oskarlange said

    Yes. It’s a bad thing. Having to pay the same price as everyone else in the country for mailing a letter, regardless of where you live or where you are mailing it to is not a right, and government has no business prohibiting competition in order to secure such an outcome.

    Why must we be forced to pay the same price for mailing letters, while the price of mailing packages varies? Do you remember when the US postal service was trying to put a tax on emails, so that they could continue providing mail to every American at the same price?

    I would bet that if private competition were allowed, prices would vary, but would in time all be below the current fixed US postal service price (assuming the postal service is not currently operating at a significant loss).

  3. Hi,Oskarlange,Vary good post,good job.
    The transfer private property is now left to state bureaucrats having begun seizing private property for any purpose.This KELO, is a deceleration of rights for all governments to use independently as they may see it proper to override the true constitutions of the people, for their private use, of what is our property.America is now again a monarchy of States…so says the Supreme Court in KELO.

  4. hm.. nice post dude!

  5. space for lease…

    […]Eminent Domain: The Rise of the Command and Control Economy « The Old-School Liberal[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: