Turkheimer: It becomes impossible to debate Kelo v. New London if one side believes it is part of a global plot to deprive suburbanites of their property rights, rather than a discussion of where the line should be drawn on the use of eminent domain by the government. You are correct about Kelo, though, and I feel for those folks. Mostly because that case seems to have the same plot as the opening to the movie Goonies, and like the Goonies, I never say die so I will debate it anyway.
Kelo stands for the proposition that the government can take your land (for which they have to pay fair market value) purely for the economic benefit of the whole community. In Kelo, the local government made an ill-informed real estate decision, but since the nation as a whole did the same thing right about that time, I won’t excoriate them for it. The 5th amendment takings clause is supposed to limit eminent domain use, and it sort of does, but just compensation doesn’t go a long way when you start thinking that your property ownership as an inviolate right.
I hope everyone is sitting down: Sometimes the government has a right to take your land for the betterment of everybody. This is what Dworkin called a “social goal” and sometimes it outweighs a “right”. The gist is, with few exceptions, placing desired and useful assets each within the exclusive ownership of a single person or firm, who or which is then free to exchange with others, is the best way to ensure that those assets are either consumed by the persons who value their consumption most highly or put to the use that will eventually yield the highest possible total social sum of consumer satisfaction (or willingness to pay). A point to keep in mind is that utilitarian and economic theories are both consequentialist and (social) goal-based.
That’s how market economies work. Resources must flow to the most efficient use. So what Kelo stands for is the triumph of the “free” market.
But none of that matters, because everyone agrees we have to have telephone lines, roads, cable and internet, etc, and none of those are possible without eminent domain used on behalf of non-governmental entities -but the Agenda 21 crusaders don’t really have a problem with any of that. It’s when it involves rapid rail, or a park, or stream buffers, or green energy projects, now it’s a global FEMA camping, fluoride injecting, climate change hoaxing plot to steal your children and force them to join a Halal Sharia Brigade.
And so you can’t discuss it rationally. And a small, vocal minority get to tell the rest of us we can’t have nice things. Like sidewalks.
Hassinger: I really can’t argue with someone who posits that “…what Kelo stands for is the triumph of the free market.” I could point out that “free” markets don’t force participation in them, but I won’t even try. But here is a vision of the sustainable utopia of the future: 200 square foot houses. That’s not a typo, that’s the latest sustainable, affordable “trend” in, where else, Washington D.C. There’s your sustainable future -adults choosing to live in play houses. And it’s here now. Tell me again who’s crazy?