Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Eminent domain, a scoundrel's playground . . . . .

For several years, now, when dealing with the matter of eminent domain and condemnation of private property in my real estate class, I've been making up a hypothetical where local politicians go in cahoots with sticky-fingered land developers, and condemn a bunch of homes. The developer plans to raze the homes and build a shopping center in their place. But the developer wants property at a "fair" price -- not the price that would be necessary to buy out all the homes from a bunch of people who have no desire, need, or incentive to sell, other than getting "too much" cash. The politicians, equally as sticky-fingered, would find nice campaign contributions to assure their continued ability to lap at the public trough.

My hypothetical government justification for favoring the land developer? Nothing is wrong with the homes; they're aren't blighted, or anything. But people will work at the shopping center, representing more jobs.

More jobs is the number-one campaign promise of all politicians. 'Cause more jobs sounds good to voters. But to politicians, more jobs means more both business income and more personal income to tax, thus raising $ for elected nannies to fritter away on all sorts of bone-headed projects other than boring things such as keeping the peace and repairing the roads. Plus, more government interaction in normal commercial affairs, leads to citizens increasing their $$$ partipation in local politics, to see to it their their needs $$$$ are adequately $$$ represented in the $$ councils and $$$$ legislatures where $$ law is made.

Well, now. Somebody told me the Supreme Court is looking at a case like my hypo. The gummint's justification for condemning the land is that the new use, whatever it is, will generate more taxes.

So let's see if the Court does what I cynically suspect it will do - that is, support government. After all. The homeowners are going to get paid, and the fact that they didn't want to sell in the first damn place shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of progress. And taxes.

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