U are Su Fructed

|

According to an L.A. Times article, officials working on rebuilding New Orleans are considering an Eminent Domainish policy called "usufruct," which would allow government to take over damaged homes—by force, possibly—clean 'em up, rent 'em out to government workers with subsidized housing allowances, take over the mortgage payments … and then maybe allow the original owners to come back in a few years, but only if they repay the government for its hard work. Connosieurs of coercion-bias in newspapers will enjoy the wording of this front-pager:

Officials and community advocates are quietly planting the seeds for an enterprising program that could give the government temporary control over thousands of privately owned homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

An increasing number of Louisiana housing authorities believe the proposal, based on an arcane legal concept called "usufruct," could be a key to determining whether New Orleans will again be a seminal American city or whether it will stagnate with a population, like it has now, equal to that of Duluth, Minn., and Fort Smith, Ark. […]

The proposal would require deft legal maneuvering and could be controversial, largely because the Constitution severely restricts the government's ability to control private property.

NEXT: Alt Together Now

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “The proposal would require deft legal maneuvering and could be controversial, largely because the Constitution severely restricts the government’s ability to control private property.”

    Damn that constitution and the way it neccesitates deft legal maneuvering and causes controversy!

  2. Use U fruct, Lork!

  3. What’s this constitution to which they refer?

  4. Off topic News flash! Ben Bernanke appointed to be Fed Head.

    “… regarding the Great Depression: You’re right, we did it.” — said Federal Reserve Board Governor Ben Bernanke, finally admitting government culpability to Nobel Laureate Dr. Milton Friedman, at Milton’s 90th birthday celebration. [Financial Review, 12-9-2002]

    Quote from:
    http://freedomkeys.com/bkecon.htm

    See also his speech:

    “Money, Gold, and the Great Depression”

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/speeches/2004/200403022/default.htm

  5. Usufruct is an “arcane” legal concept? Who did they ask, Harriet Miers?

  6. Hey, look at it this way: at this rate, “officials” will manage to make things horrible enough for the remaining New Orleans residents that they won’t fixate on the actual, you know, natural disaster

  7. They’re not taking, they’re just kind of barrowing them for a while. Thus, no need for just compensation. In fact, those owners should pay for such good up-keep, especially since it’s all for the public good.

  8. It’s arcane enough that this layman hasn’t heard of it and had to look it up, Julian.

  9. Matt, did you catch the part about how the homeowner would be OFFERED this deal (and would get to NO)? Nothing about coercion just yet.

    But that the deal would require homeowners to pay for repairs…goodness. I mean, it makes sense in a way, but jevhova that’s a bad idea. Gov’t can hire whoever it wants for whatever price it wants knowing that you are legally obligated to cover their costs….

  10. Off topic News flash! Ben Bernanke appointed to be Fed Head.

    Damn. I had my money on Harriet Miers, who is an outstanding citizen and is completely qualified to run the Federal Reserve.

  11. Think positively: If they go ahead with this, New Orleans may soon reawaken the long-dormant Third Amendment from its constitutional slumber. Who wouldn’t love to see the Supreme Court finally take a 3rd Amendment case?

  12. Keep in mind that usufruct derives from the Napoleonic Code and would exist nowhere in the U.S. outside of Louisiana.

  13. It’s a shame the third amendment isn’t worded a little more broadly.

  14. Hundreds of millions of dollars to re-populate New Orleans just so it can be destroyed next year by a hurricane. Why don’t take that money and build a city in a safe and rational place. Somewhere like, I don’t know, the crater inside Mount St. Helens? At some point we need to tell the mayor and city government of New Orleans to go to hell, your free ride as the benificiaries of a corrupt third world government of a major city is over. You will have to settle for being the ruling class of a third world government of a minor city. Get over it!!

  15. theOneState — I said “by force, possibly.” Which came from this part of the article:

    But Neveu made no such promises, and said that if an abandoned home deteriorated to the point that it represented a “threat to health and safety” — a threshold already reached by thousands of homes — the government could force owners to sign the deal.

    “In some cases, if owners are uncooperative — then perhaps a more forceful implementation of receivership or usufruct can be established,” he said. “This tool can be used for voluntary agreements with owners or for involuntary control by the city.”

  16. Matt, that’s not fair at all – you didn’t tell us we had to read the second page.

    But I take back what I almost said about you. That guy Neveu scares me (not just b/c I don’t know how to pronounce his name).

    Interesting dilemma they’ve got, though.

  17. KipEsquire,

    No, it derives from Roman law.

  18. So we’ll have government workers living in subsidized housing? Jesus, the magnitude of un-motivation will rupture the very fabric of time and space. It will create a nexus where time will grind down into nothing, and the original property owners, trapped in real-time, will forever be denied.

  19. It is an odd situation where “blighted” means good enough to interest a deep-pocketted developer, but does not incluse unsafe, flood-damaged, mold-ridden houses.

  20. Wow. Out of everything in the Bill of Rights, never in a million years did I expect that the Third Amendment would be violated. I mean, my god, are they trying to hit them all before ’08?

  21. It’s like Pokemon: Bill of Rights Edition. Gotta violate them all!

  22. The LAT article reads like an infomercial. I am sold! Where can I get usufructed, fast?

    This is just more evidence that government officials will try every trick in the book to waste our money. We should let the place rot and not spend our tax revenues on a lost cause. Is New Orleans a sacred temple that must be rebuilt with Federal funds because GWB used to drink there?

  23. Crushinator,

    New Orleans is a sacred place that must be rebuilt because George Bush and global warming destroyed it!! So, pay your high taxes and know that its part of the price you must pay for being an evil American.

  24. pop:

    That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say!

  25. Hey, Pop, I’ve been meaning to ask you…where do babies come from?

  26. There’s a lesson in all of this…

    …Stay away from acid.

  27. Well, the Seventh might still be live – and the right to petition from the First (next on the list, no doubt). Hell, even the private property clause from the Fifth seems to have been violated repeatedly post-Katrina (thanks, New Orleans Police Department!) Pretty soon the 11th and 27th will be the only ones left – after all, chicks, kids and blacks all vote Democrat.

  28. But how does Pop vote?

  29. Johnny Clarke:

    Via telepathy.

  30. Is pop going to run in November on the Libertarian ticket?

  31. “I broke the dam!”

  32. Everyone,

    No need to panic. pop is just cutting and pasting some gibberish nonsense that has been posted on Hit and Run many times before, in many threads. What it means, nobody knows. Don’t hurt your brain trying to figure it out. It’s just gibberish.

    usufructed

    Sounds like a new 1337 term:

    i r teh pwn
    usufructed!
    w00t

  33. Smacky,

    Its no worse than some of the stuff that Joe, Gaius and Gary Gunnels come up with on here.

  34. i would say it’s substantially worse than anything i’ve seen joe or gaius marius come up with.

  35. Shem:

    Why do those people always use really big fonts, alternate colors between paragraphs, and insist on one long-ass page for their screeds?

  36. Great Headline!

  37. Jeez,
    Between pop and the 4-day time cube I think I’m about to hurl!

    Please stop it, make it stop!

  38. Might this not be that rarest of all legal cases: a potential violation of the second amendment? I would SOO love to see a case argued succesfully on second amendment grounds.

    Yes I know that some random bureaucrats might not technically be troops, but the spirit of the second amendment is: you can’t force private citizens to provide board for government workers. A rose by any other name…

  39. Isn’t this an eminent domain argument? Where’s Joe?

  40. mac-

    I think you mean the 3rd.

    Regarding pop, I thought I saw some crazy screed here earlier. Whoever deleted it, how about reposting it as its own thread so we can have some fun with it?

  41. “…which is founded on Napoleonic code…”

    As in Emperor Napolean. Damn those French!

    “The home would then be rented out, first to displaced ‘essential workers’…”

    Code word: illegal aliens.

  42. passingthru,

    No, as in Justinian. Usufruct was around long before Napoleon.

  43. Muggs,

    I was wondering the same thing. Maybe he’s got to actually work today!

  44. I think you guys are taking this all wrong.

    On principal, yes, this is a direct violation of the 3rd Amendment because there are plenty of non-military government workers who carry guns (sometimes illegally, see: IRS).

    However, for practical purposes, what’s wrong with housing thousands of government workers on land below sea level in a hurricane-prone region?

    Added bonus: they won’t be as successful at escaping because it would take a month to drive 30 miles with all the red tape they are sure to develop.

  45. In that case, can we move the White House and the Capitol to NOLA as well?

  46. I’m w/ taktix: round all those sumbitches up down in hurricane alley. Hell, why not move the nation’s capital down there? Then, crank the “global warming/angry jesus hurricane machine” up to high. Oh, and put fuckin’ Ray Nagin and Mike Brown in charge of the evacuation.

  47. Maybe he’s got to actually work today!

    All day? I mean, get real – he’s an urban planner! I’m sure he spreads that seventeen hour work week over several days.

  48. Its no worse than some of the stuff that Joe, Gaius and Gary Gunnels come up with on here.

    Someday, maybe I’ll make that list!

  49. Once taken I think the chance of an owner getting the property back is less than zero.

    But several supreme court members will like the use of foreign law. They can refer the appeal to French courts where the Napoleonic Code is best understood.

  50. Black’s Law Dictionary defines usufruct (in part) as: “…The right of using and enjoying and receiving the profits of property that belongs to another…”.

  51. usufruct also sounds like the name of an artificial sweetener to me. You know like, from the Latin fructus. It derives from the same word, fruitus, past participle of fru – “to enjoy”.

    “Next time you make lemonade, make it with Usufruct??.”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.