Friday, September 08, 2006

Will your home—or church—be next?

Elected Officials Threatening Property Rights
From Texas Straight Talk, Rep. Ron Paul's weekly column, September 4, 2006

In recent weeks I've written about the threat of rising property taxes posed by state and local governments hungry for more and more of your money; and the threat of widespread eminent domain actions posed by a planned North American superhighway running straight through Texas. It's clear that many political and business interests are only too willing to drive people literally out of their homes to make way for the grand schemes of those in power.

This is why every American needs to understand that property rights are the foundation of a free society. Without property rights, all citizens live subject to the whims of government officials. When government can seize your property without your consent, all of your other rights are negated. Our founders would roll over in their graves if they knew that the takings clause in the Fifth Amendment was being used to justify unholy alliances between private developers and tax-hungry local governments.

Now one year removed from the notorious Kelo decision by the Supreme Court, Americans are still reeling from the shock of having our nation's highest tribunal endorse using government power to condemn private homes to benefit a property developer. The silver lining, however, is that many Americans have been stirred to action and are demanding new state laws to prohibit the Kelo scenario from repeating itself in their cities.

The Kelo case demonstrates that local government can be as tyrannical as centralized government. Decentralized power is always preferable, of course, since it's easier to fight city hall than Congress. But government power is ever and always dangerous, and must be zealously guarded against. Most people in New London, Connecticut, like most people in America, would rather not involve themselves in politics. The reality is that politics involves itself with us whether we like it or not. We can bury our heads in the sand and hope things don't get too bad, or we can fight back when government treats us as its servant rather than its master.

Congress can and should act to prevent the federal government from seizing private property. I've introduced and cosponsored several bills that prohibit or severely limit the power of Washington agencies to seize private property in locations around the nation. But the primary fight against local eminent domain actions must take place at the local level. The people of New London, Connecticut, like the people of Texas, could start by removing from office local officials who have so little respect for property rights.


Blogger CrimsonLine said...

You know that I think Kelo was a hideous decision, but Paul errs here in equating the building of a superhighway with "greedy private developers." I don't know all the details in the Texas case he alludes to, but highways are infrastructure, a part of interstate commerce, and legitimately fall into the domain of the Federal Government's authority by anyone's reckoning. As it stands right now, America's highway system cannot handle the volume of private and commercial traffic on it, let alone allow for any growth at all. America needs fresh thinking about our highways, and eminent domain is a vital tool in the toolbox. Eminent domain is a dangerous thing, but like a circular saw, it is necessary for some jobs. Again, I don't know the details of the case (Paul gives none here) but superhighways are not private enterprise - they are public, interstate interests.

September 08, 2006 6:38 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Crimson Line. That part about the superhighway must've gone right over my head. You are quite correct. It goes to show that eminent domain can be a necessary "evil" of sorts, given the appropriate circumstances.

September 11, 2006 12:19 PM  

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