Sunday, June 26, 2005

Scew the home owner!

The right of imminent domain has been a necessary tool in the shed of public interest for decades. It has always had the potential for dangerous misuse by the influence of those with a lust for profit or power---but like the fire extinguisher it has always been marked "for emergency " in its Fifth Amendment delineation that private property can only be taken for "public use".

That minimal protection has been flushed down the toilet by the U.S. Supreme Court decision that now allows a government entity to take private property and give it to a commercial developer on the premise that a possibly enhanced tax base meets the "public use" requirement. This was a Connecticut case that allowed the municipal government to take a number of homes in a low income area and hand them over to a developer.

The Court (and its defenders in this case) offers the Disneyland assurance that this new interpretation should be used rarely and narrowly. Right!---and for all who believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn they can buy for two dollars!

If there was ever an adage that applies to politicians who run municipal governments, it’s the one that goes, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!" That is NOT just a cynical observation. Can anyone seriously believe that--- given the continual demands on revenue to support goods and services--- local governments won't dance to the siren song of fat cat developers now that they have been deputized by the U.S. Supreme Court?

Unless one has been living under a rock, it is common knowledge that big moneyed developers have about as much concern for conservation and resources as an elephant has for a bug in its path. So now that the Court has greased their path to more profits, the (mostly) home owners of America are to believe that this system adjustment won't come knocking at their door with ever increasing frequency? Right! And Pigs can fly!

We should be raising hell with Congress! We should have pasted on our foreheads the Hemingway admonition, "Therefore, send not to know, for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee...”

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