Mayor to Developers: I Have Been and Always Shall Be Your Friend

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Lawnside, New Jersey, Mayor Mark Bryant channels either Lenin or Leonard Nimoy to explain why the city is justified in evicting some its citizens and knocking down their perfectly good homes so developers can replace them with fancier, more expensive lodgings aimed at attracting people who work in Philadelphia or New York: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

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  1. ..or the one.

  2. New development is like heroin (or worse, corn syrup) for local governments. Perhaps an in-depth Public Health study is in order.

  3. So if the “many” decided that they “needed” to exterminate all self-serving crooked politicians, would that also “outweigh” Mayor Bryant’s “need” to live?

  4. “So if the ‘many’ decided that they ‘needed’ to exterminate all self-serving crooked politicians, would that also ‘outweigh’ Mayor Bryant’s ‘need’ to live?”

    That’s just plain crazy talk, Evan. Where would you get the notion that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness?”

  5. This is what you get when you listen to a dying man with a martyr complex.

    Half seriously, the reason that line sounded good was because it was uttered by Spock to justify his own martyrdom. Like a lot a high minded morality, it works a lot better when one is speaking for oneself.

    It works better still when you know you’ll be resurrected in the next movie.

  6. Of course in Spock’s case, the decision was made by the few against their own interests. In this case, the decision is made by the many against the interests of the few. It’s a little less noble when you decide that your interests outweigh the interests of someone else.

  7. A bit off topic, but I’d like to point out the unintended consequences of the Kelo ruling:

    The final paragraph of the majority opinion in Kelo essentially invited legislatures to make their own rules on eminent domain if they didn’t like the decision. Almost every state commenced to do just that.

    Score one for federalism.

  8. Uh, yeah, Lenin or Nimoy. Because that sure is some sort of bizarre, extremist concept. Not.

    It is only in this tiny corner of the political landscape that that sentiment – by intself, without indefensible facts to point to – is considered the slightest bit controversial.

    Let your freak flag fly!

  9. matt,

    Intesting piece in this Sunday’s Boston Globe Ideas section about the Kelo-inspired laws.

    While many states have passed legislation that addresses the issue, there is only one – South Dakota – whose law bans all non-government-ownership takings.

  10. Because that sure is some sort of bizarre, extremist concept.

    It is in a country that’s supposed to be based on the notion of individual rights.

    I found a website of German propaganda from the Nazi and East German eras. I was especially interested in the propaganda justifying the Berlin Wall–despite what I’d thought, the propagandists did NOT claim that the purpose of the wall was to keep out invaders; it was to keep in all those selfish doctors and engineers and scientists who wanted to go to the West rather than stay in the East and serve the state like they’re supposed to. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, so it’s a damned good thing we built this wall, huh?

  11. “It is in a country that’s supposed to be based on the notion of individual rights.”

    No, not really. Imprisonment, execution, eminent domain, mandatory militia service, taxes, and laws against discharging water into the public way were all common practices at the time of the founding, which prioritize the interests of the many over the interests and self determination of the individual.

    As I said, you can always find a case of a noble principle being used to justify bad acts – that’s what the genre of tragedy is about.

    And, like I said, it’s only in this tiny corner of the political culture that the existence of such hard cases is assumed to deny the legitimacy of the principle as a whole.

  12. No, not really. Imprisonment, execution, eminent domain, mandatory militia service, taxes, and laws against discharging water into the public way were all common practices at the time of the founding, which prioritize the interests of the many over the interests and self determination of the individual.

    And discharging waste into the public water supply is just as bad as keeping your home even though the state could make a profit by selling it to an apartment developer?

    I don’t quite buy the argument “if the state has the right to imprison a thief, then it must also have the right to force people to sell their homes to apartment developers.” Your previous examples of imprisonment or maintaining a militia are matters of protecting the state or the people, whereas this eminent domain case is about letting the state decide that current taxpayers aren’t shelling enough money into the coffers, so let’s give their property to someone who will.

    How can someone like you, who supposedly cares so much about the poor, be at the same time so ready to justify taking away the property of poor people on the grounds that the state will get more tax money if a rich guy owns the property? Where the hell are the poor folk supposed to go, anyway? Shall they only build houses on toxic waste dumps or other places that no rich developer would want?

  13. Jennifer,

    joe is clearly commenting on the “needs of the many vs. the needs of the few” concept…not specifically about ED.

  14. Give him a break, Jennifer. Think of how boring a Monday somebody must be having to go to a fringe political site and post, “Wow, you guys tend to hold a fringe political belief.”

  15. (And yes, the idea that “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” isn’t an acceptable blank justification for most things is pretty fringe.)

  16. Joe’s comments aside (which aren’t without merit, though I still disagree), Eminent Domain seems to be one of the few libertarian hobbyhorses that ARE mainstream. And for that I’m thankful.

  17. It’s because people can very easily see themselves at the business end of it, other-Eric. Most of this crap gets marketed as things that will done to other people – druggies, criminals, etc.

  18. joe,

    I view any reduction in state-sponsored theft, especially at the state and local level, as a positive development.

  19. I suppose you think sitting around in your own home, doing as you please, constitutes some sort of appropriate use.

    You must be some sort of wild-eyed guntoting moonbat homeschooler paranoiac anarcholibertoonian misanthrope. In order to protect you from yourself, we must place you in a Home where you can be properly supervised and rehabilitated.

  20. Imprisonment, execution, eminent domain, mandatory militia service, taxes, and laws against discharging water into the public way were all common practices at the time of the founding, which prioritize the interests of the many over the interests and self determination of the individual.

    Aside from eminent domain and conscription — which, like legal protections for slavery, are founders’ practices libertarians abhor — the practices you mention are not so much preferring the interests of the many over those of the few, but preferring the interests of the individual(s) harmed by the actions of other individual(s). In other words, the necessary distinction is not many/few, but harmed/harming.

  21. Mandatory milita service is quite different from mandatory military service.

  22. Back to the subject of the post. Not saying this sort of thinking is genetic, but this AP article may give you a better idea of the good mayor’s character.

    LAWNSIDE, N.J. (AP) — Some neighbors are balking about the size
    of the house Senator Wayne Bryant is building.
    The powerful state lawmaker under investigation by federal
    authorities has hired a builder who wants the town to award him a
    contract to build 300 units in Lawnside. Bryant is the solicitor
    for Lawnside, in Camden County, where his brother is the mayor and
    his son is on the planning board.
    Some residents are complaining that Bryant is getting the house
    at a low price in exchange for helping builder Ernest Edwards get
    the bigger borough contract.
    A Democrat who chairs the senate’s budget committee, Bryant is
    being investigated as part of a federal probe into the University
    of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
    The probe appears to be centering on whether Bryant improperly
    steered state funds to his former employer. He left U-M-D-N-J in
    February after three years.
    Bryant did not return calls to his law or legislative offices.

  23. How does tearing down Joe’s little house and Pete’s little house in Lawnside and building a “fancier, more expensive” house for Bernard who commutes from Philidelphia advance the “needs of the many?”

  24. How does tearing down Joe’s little house and Pete’s little house in Lawnside and building a “fancier, more expensive” house for Bernard who commutes from Philidelphia advance the “needs of the many?”
    It does, in the following sense: unique to New Jersey is the relationship between the state and local governments. The state government sucks billions of dollars from the suburbs and rural areas to subsize monster spending and deficits in its decaying urban areas. Which means, ironically, in NJ you can’t move to the suburbs to escape high city taxes. In response, local governments have had to institute large raises in property taxes to pay for their own operations (the combination is why NJ is considered a tax hell). The net result is that NJ localities have a big incentive to approve “fancy, more expensive” developments because they bring higher taxes, but no more people, so budgets don’t go up in lockstep.

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