Saturday, June 25, 2005


I might or might not keep working on this. Regardless, I don’t want it to get stale, and I’m not going to try to publish it, so instead of perfection I’m going to shoot for timeliness and put it out there.

I can’t tell you how important I think this is. I literally can’t. The long-term implications of this ruling can only be found in science fiction worlds, which do not contain a recognizable America.

Short answer = There is virtually no restriction on the government seizing your property and giving it to another private person or corporation now. With the decision in Kelo v. New London the only criteria seems to be that the new owner would put it to “better use”.

Do you know any property developers? I guarantee you your local politicians do. Your local politicians are now free to condemn any land they need to and transfer it to whoever pays the most in taxes (or under the table).

I thought it was particularly interesting that the more liberal justices voted against the little guy and in favor of big business, (It’s not just developers. Pfizer benefits greatly from this deal now.) and the Conservative justices all dissented in favor of the private citizen. Not quite the picture the Liberals like to paint in their PR blitzes huh?

The Supreme Court ruling that allows the government to seize private property for development by other private citizens is the most un-American ruling that has ever been handed down in my opinion. There are issues that divide the court and the people of this nation that get more attention, but I don’t think there are any that could affect the very character of this nation in such a fundamental way.

There is no private property safe from seizure tonight in the United States of America.

If that sounds extreme or exaggerated, let me quote Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor:

“’[a]law that takes property from A. and gives it to B.:It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a legislature with such powers; and therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it.’
Calder v. Bull

“Today the Court abandons this long held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner…” -Justice O’Connor on June 23rd 2005

This is a step toward the worst and most corrupt aspects of Socialism, where the right of an individual to choose his own destiny within the framework of the law is denied in favor of the “greater good”. The right of the individual to own private property and feel secure in his ownership is fundamentally challenged. A place where the federal government openly takes sides in an economic contest between private citizens and chooses in favor of the well connected and financially well armed instead of standing up for the underdog. The “greater good” in this case is an economic good, which will bear minimal fruits for the private citizens forced to leave behind homes that may have been built by their own hands or the hands of their grandfathers. It will, on the other hand, do an incredible amount of “good” for the few rich developers that tear down the private residences and family businesses to build coffee shop franchises and condominiums.

Does anyone doubt that the decision will go in favor of the developer? The local “government” who will make the decision is not some beneficent and faceless entity without a finger in the pie. He is a businessman himself, and will almost certainly be acquainted with, if not on a first name basis with the movers and shakers in development. He will look at it in abstract terms and will most likely never see the people he will effectively turn into economic refugees.

I’m not blind to the fact that if the people who resist being moved were to conveniently disappear, it could, in certain circumstances, benefit the city they live in. Much needed renovation of some urban areas can only happen when private developers absorb the financial burden in anticipation of a future profit. This is Capitalism at it’s best and it has done a lot for many of the worst areas of our cities. How many people have seen a downtown that used to be a high-crime, low-income area transform within a decade to a trendy, upscale hotspot full of new businesses and valuable real estate? This is a wonderful thing, but the 70-year old grandmother who lived in the same house for 50 years, and then was forcibly removed to make way for a microbrewery won’t see a return on her investment. Her investment was in the property where her four children were raised. Her investment was in the house where her grandchildren ran and played during the Seventies. Her investment was in the back yard where last year her grandchildren brought their own young children to the first family reunion since the passing of her husband.

(If you think this is an extreme example, one of the plaintiffs in Kelo was born in the house that will now be demolished in 1918 and has lived there all her life. Her husband moved in when they got married in 1946. Their son lives next door in the house they bought them for a wedding present. The son is also a plaintiff.)

The idea that this is only going to be used to improve “blighted neighborhoods” is completely false. The development companies are going to jump on this with both feet. There is too much money to be made for them to wait long. This ruling will be abused in mid to large sized communities across the country within the next year. Kelo v. New London doesn’t even claim that the individual properties are distressed, just that the local legislature declared it a depressed economy. The difference is important, because there are plenty of depressed economies that would pay a whole lot more in taxes if they uprooted the citizens and plopped down a few factories. No small business or private residence, no matter how established, is safe if it resides on desirable real estate.

We cannot make people “disappear” for our own profit or convenience. This is one of those times when logic has to give way to our American heritage of independence and self-determination. It’s hard for a developer to look at such a ripe plum, ready to be picked, and then be thwarted by such blind stubbornness. To have individuals choose tradition or familiarity over profit is unthinkable to someone who has a multi-billion dollar project waiting to break ground.

The concept of eminent domain means the Government has the right to seize property and offer just compensation when the property will be developed for public use. This means that if a new highway or reservoir is necessary, some people will be inconvenienced and may even be uprooted. I don’t like this either, especially since my family experienced it firsthand a few years ago, but at least I can understand it. If good government is practiced and the improvements are truly necessary, then so be it. The difference is that people aren’t being uprooted solely for the profit of others. Some contractors and companies will be awarded lucrative contracts for the improvement, and this is where corruption usually settles, but it isn’t exclusively for profit. There is at least a superficial purity to the intent.

The Government has no right to seize the property of private citizens and award it to other private citizens. This is a criminal intrusion and will not be borne by the citizens of this country. The days when a feudal lord could walk into a peasant’s home and eject them unceremoniously because the land was needed for something “more important” than housing their family are over. If the government needs to eject me from my home to build a highway, I might fight it in court. I might acquiesce and bow out gracefully. I might even be grateful that we live in a country with the resources and foresight to build the best highway system in the world. But if the government wants to eject me from my home so that some fat businessman can build a Starbucks or an office complex and make a fatter profit than he already does, I promise you that I will not go peacefully.

The Bill of Rights prohibits the illegal search and seizure of private property by the Government. The Fifth Amendment relates primarily to processes of a judicial nature, but the principle is clearly to protect the private citizen and his property from abuse by the government. The Supreme Court has become so trapped in their own web of utilitarian logic, they have lost touch with what it has always meant to be an American. We are not subject to the whims of people who consider themselves our “betters”. We will not be subject to a government that openly steals from the poor to give to the rich. We will always be sovereign in our own home. Once we have bought and paid for something, it will be ours until we give it away or sell it. To have the government facilitate the theft of private property is obscene and wrong and will not stand.

Monday, June 20, 2005

It's been almost a week...

I thought the hardest part would be the first few days, but I'm not sure that's true anymore. So far so good though. I haven't touched tobacco of any type in 6 days. You can expect prices of sunflower seeds to exceed 60$ a barrel by the end of next week though, as I have made a serious dent in the world's supply. I've been working out a lot too. Hopefully I will see some significant gains there by the time we pick up again.

I took leave this week. I have at least one more cycle, and it looks like it will be endured rather than enjoyed, and then I can make like a shephard and get the flock out of here.