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The premise behind the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes — a rationale legitimized by the Supreme Court in the infamous Kelo case — is fairly straightforward. Government officials have superior wisdom, and given sufficient power over other people they can produce economic outcomes superior to those that result from free choices by economic participants. The vacant streets of Detroitand the empty wasteland where Suzette Kelo’s neighborhood inConnecticut once stood expose the fallacy of that premise.
On Wednesday, President Obama ignored those object lessons and reiterated his call for more, always more, political allocation of economic goods. The job of creating a solid middle class, he argued, belongs to government, which can do so through “new rules.” And “long-term strategies.” And “new initiatives.” And “executive authority,” which is his favorite kind. And a “new push to rebuild run-down neighborhoods” (look out, Detroit). And “plans that I willlay out” — because nothing makes an economy hum like central planning.
Nothing invites the vulpine corruption of civic virtue by monied interests like central planning, either. Just ask Virginia’s political class for proof of that.
This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.