Saturday, June 25, 2005

Home Improvements and Kelo

I haven’t said anything about the Kelo decision because Bill’s quotes have been eloquent enough for me. This will be my only post on the matter, unless there’s a new development.

In case you haven’t heard, the United States Supreme Court decided Kelo vs. City of New London. Five black robed tyrants justices held that a city can take private land from its owner and give to a private developer if the city thinks the other private party can make a more productive use of that property. (Here’s a good primer, also many other bloggers and news outlets have covered it better than I can.)

I’m a former liberal. When I first heard about the decision that quiet, hidden liberal voice that I’ve not quite choked off muttered about damn conservatives talking land from the little people and giving it to the rich. Boy howdy was that voice wrong. It was the Court’s liberal wing that decided against Kelo and others living in a working class, but not blighted neighborhood. It was the same gang, plus Scalia, that decided the medical marijuana case (Gonzalez v. Raich). Raich expanded the Commerce Clause to mean that that the Feds can get involved in virtually any aspect of American life.

These two cases radically expand the power of government at any of its many levels to impinge on our lives. I was dismayed at the Raich decision, again decided by so-called liberals. When I was a liberal, liberalism meant expanded personal freedoms, and power to the little people. Or, rather that’s how it was sold to young idealistic teens. Now it means increased state interference in our private lives.

The Raich decision dismayed me, but the Kelo decision horrified me. It means no one’s property is safe, but those of us who aren’t rich are more at risk. If you own a nice house and a few acres, what’s to stop a city to decide a McMansion isn’t a better use of that land? If you own a McMansion, what’s to stop a city from deciding that a Wal-Mart isn’t a better use of the land? Horrible implications.

There are political, even gunnie, implications as well. What’s to stop a city, county etc. to decide it wants to close a shooting range, abortion clinic, or any other entity unpopular in that city? There’s nothing to stop that city from taking the property if they can find a developer willing to use it.

Kelo outrages me. I understand the need for limited eminent domain; that there is a need to take private land for public use after compensating the owner. But Kelo pushes legitimate eminent domain into the illegitimate realm of tyranny. This must not stand, but our only legal recourse is convincing our state legislators to pass laws limiting eminent domain to true public use, not this expanded definition.

Beyond this recourse lies the ammo can. Do these black-robed tyrants really want to start another revolution or civil war? What were they thinking when they decided Raich and Kelo? Do they have any idea what property rights mean to a property owner or one who hopes to own property? God save the Republic from fools such as these.

Now that I’ve mastered my outrage, Bill and I will be working in our new condo. We’re laying a Pergo floor. I sort of wonder if we should bother since our city might have designs on the land. After all, we only own it at the sufferance of our masters in City Hall, the State House, or Washington and we will be paying a sort of rent (taxes). Guess I haven’t quite mastered my outrage after all.

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