Civil Liberties

Rich, White Property Owners Disproportionately Hurt by Eminent Domain Abuse

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Just kidding. A new report from the Institute for Justice finds that residents of areas targeted for private economic development projects that rely on eminent domain are poorer, less educated, and less likely to be white than people in surrounding communities. In 184 areas where the use of eminent domain was approved, the median income was about $19,000, 34 percent of adults had less than a high school diploma, and 58 percent of residents were members of minority groups. The corresponding numbers for nearby neighborhoods were $23,000, 24 percent, and 45 percent, respectively.

Such differences are not only not surprising; they are pretty much inevitable if the criterion for condemning a property is whether it can be put to a "higher use"—i.e., one that generates more tax revenue or creates more jobs. As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted in her dissent from the Supreme Court's endorsement of such takings in Kelo v. New London, "extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities." Not to mention the fact that it's easier for developers to force sales when the owners have little political influence and few resources to put up a fight.

Update: Thanks to jh's sharp eye, I've fixed the order of the numbers in the last sentence of the first paragraph.

NEXT: Hawks and Hogs

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  1. Wouldn’t it be better to have looked at the owners of properties actually taken, rather the residents of the areas in which properties were taken?

    Consider a city that declares a neighborhood that contains a mix of small industrial and residential properties to be an urban renewal area, for the purpose of buying out the industrial properties and relocating them out of the residential neighborhood. Then consider an area-clearance program such as that done by New London.

    The methodology used in this report would lump those two together, as the residents of both neighborhoods would share many demographic traits, but such a conclusion wouldn’t be terribly helpful.

  2. Er, even if govts actually restricted their eminent domain takings to genuinely blighted areas, you would expect that the people living there would be disproportionately low on the socioeconomic scale. Rich whites don’t tend to live in truly blighted areas.

  3. BUT! Eminent domain is used for the Public Good!…. Pub..lic…goo…d….. But minorities! Minorities benefit from it, right?! ummm…. doesn’t….ummmm…..

    *cries*

  4. “Such differences are not only not surprising; they are pretty much inevitable if the criterion for condemning a property is…”

    Spot on. …and if the criterion for condemning government abuse, for some people… If we want to use something that resonates with people, why not use something that resonates?

    What’s wrong with being against eminent domain because it hurts poor people and minorities?

    …absolutely nothing.

  5. “What’s wrong with being against eminent domain…”

    Should have read, “What’s wrong with being against eminent domain abuse…”, but most of you already knew that.

  6. Ken Schultz,

    Because using such poster children invites a solution designed to address the impact on those poster children, rather than the much larger political program that those poster children are being used to sell.

    Remember the “middle class homeowners and farmers” whom the Republicans decided would “resonate” with people as they sold their capital gains tax cuts?

    Clinton responded with capital gains tax cuts targetted towards homeowners selling their primary residence and farmers who saw their land’s value rise. Can’t have the same thing happen here.

  7. What’s wrong with being against eminent domain because it hurts poor people and minorities?

    Because that implies that eminent domain is okay when it hurts middle- or upper-class folks and whites.

    Standing up for property rights for *all* is the principled way to oppose eminent domain. Opposing it because it hurts poor people and minorities only furthers the misguided notion that poor people and minorities are somehow more worthy of protection from government abuse because they work harder, are less appreciated, encounter more discrimination, etc.

  8. Rich whites don’t tend to live in truly blighted areas.

    You haven’t seen my apartment.

    (Oops, I’m not rich. But I’m fairly comfortable.)

  9. Even without the “higher use” cases, eminent domainn is always going to affect the lower socioeconomic strata the most. You’re building a freeway. As a conscientious public servant, you are trying to do this in a cost effective manner. Land must be acquired by eminent domain for this to happen. What’s cheaper, Bel Air homes or Watts homes? Surely we don’t want to say “Cost be damned, let’s spread the pain to the upper classes”, do we?

    Higher use eminent domain scenarios we can just outlaw. Write your STATE legislator, bitch, moan, and complain at his community outreach meetings. It may be legal nationally but we can outlaw it state-by-state.

  10. All of your points are well taken. But, property is property is property. Exceptions and excuses only muddy the water. The government has no right to take it from anyone, regardless of who they are.

    Damn, I hate using that blanket term “The government” when we know that it is actually some individual or group within the government that makes these decissions, for whatever personal reasons they may have, no matter what is right. Afer all, they know what is best for us.

  11. Foaming-at-the-mouth Liberal,

    You win the “Funny Handle of the Day” award…

  12. Consider a city that declares a neighborhood that contains a mix of small industrial and residential properties to be an urban renewal area, for the purpose of buying out the industrial properties and relocating them out of the residential neighborhood.

    So when you take a large employer out of a predominantly disadvantaged area, in order to build luxury condos, you are not hurting the disadvantaged how?

    It makes it kinda hard to complain about the “Chinese stealing our jobs” when we are puting industry out of buisness “for the public good”.

  13. Stevo Darkly,

    Are you saying you live in a pig sty? Maybe if you install a condom machine, they’ll turn into attractive humans.

    BTW, I’m not suggesting that you’re gay.

  14. Rex Rhino,

    I used the term “neighborhood,” not area.

    No, you do not need to have your workplace literally on the same block as you home to be able to get to a job.

    I used the term, “relocating them out of the residential neighborhood,” not “putting industry out of business.”

    Moving a company out of obsolete facilities, selling them a better parcel with better access with no residential neighbors, and proving them relocation assistance does not reduce the viability of the area for industrial businesses, it improves it.

    Pleae, if you’re going to respond to what I write, respond to WHAT I ACTUALLY WRITE.

  15. The real problem isn’t the use of eminent domain, it’s that we don’t compensate the poor people enough! If a mean, greedy, private developer wants to tear down a blighted neighborhood to build condos, the people who used to live there should get first choice and not have to pay to live there! That will fix EVERYTHING! The developer should also be forced to set aside a right-of-way for light rail!

  16. Besides, Rex, in today’s society, very few people are even lucky enough to work as close as the other side of their neighborhood.

    It would be very convenient for poor people and planners alike if the industrial businesses in urban areas employed mostly people who live in the same neighborhood, but it just doesn’t work that way.

  17. Oh, look, a troll-ling.

    They’re almost cute when they’re that little.

  18. J sub D,

    There was an editorial in a Minneapolis newspaper about the Interstate Highway project. To paraphrase,

    “There weren’t very many black people in Minneapolis, but the highway department managed to find them.”

  19. Republicans hate FRD because they have to work more to stay rich…

    Democrats hat Lincoln cuz now they have to work harder to keep Black people poor.

  20. joe,

    The kind of factories that you find still functioning in the middle of disadvantaged residential areas, are usually light industrial places that employ local workers who can’t afford to commute. The factories that higher paid workers commute to have already moved to the suburbs, or are huge and in dedicated industrial areas. At least that is the way it is in many places.

    Moving those industrial workplaces out of their current location would most certainly put them out of buisness – they are already just barely surviving as it is.

  21. “…the median income was about $19,000, 34 percent of adults had less than a high school diploma, and 58 percent of residents were members of minority groups.”

    Isn’t this the dictionary definition of “blight?”

    ———-

    “Consider a city that declares a neighborhood that contains a mix of small industrial and residential properties to be an urban renewal area, for the purpose of buying out the industrial properties and relocating them out of the residential neighborhood.”

    And thusly does Joe come down in favor of forcibly imposing single-use zoning. Now, Joe; explain to us how single-use zoning reduces sprawl.

  22. Joshua

    Your schtick might work better if you could spell.

    Preview is your friend.

  23. “They’re almost cute when they’re that little.”

    🙂

  24. Rex,

    That certainly hasn’t been my experience – especially given the bend-over-backwards-to-keep-local-industry attitude that guides local governments, at least in historic manufacturing centers.

    If this about moving businesses out to the suburbs, you’d have a good point, but when we’re talking about moving them a few streets away, not so much. In the particular case I’m thinking of, the businesses ended up with more-desireable locations, that actually had fripperies like truck access and parking, which allowed them to expand.

    Anyway, getting back to my original point, the poor, minority residents of that neighborhood are seeing significant benefits to having polluting, noisy, ugly industry moved out of their immediate area, while the properties being taken are not owned by the same demographic. If Reason wants to make a “class-war” argument, they’re going to have to flip back to their more familiar “screwing the productive Entreprenuer Class” territory.

  25. If Reason wants to make a “class-war” argument, they’re going to have to flip back to their more familiar “screwing the productive Entreprenuer Class” territory.

    OMG! How did I not see it before? The single example that Joe provided us just now COMPLETELY wipes out the possibility the poor people are disproportionately harmed by eminent domain!
    I feel so foolish!

  26. There weren’t very many black people in Minneapolis, but the highway department managed to find them.”

    If the government bypassed cheaper or similar neighborhoods to route the road through a black neighbor it is not only reprehensible but a violation of so many federal laws, the constitution being one, you could build a bonfire with the printouts. I suspect, however, that Minneapolis is facing the conundrum I referred to. So, what’s the proposed solution?

  27. P Brooks,

    Wow, you really like on comment on things you don’t know much about!

    ‘Isn’t this the dictionary definition of “blight?”‘

    No.

    “And thusly does Joe come down in favor of forcibly imposing single-use zoning.” Um, no, try again. This time, pretend that there are other uses besides heavy industry and urban residential.

    “Now, Joe; explain to us how single-use zoning reduces sprawl.”

    It doesn’t; it worsens sprawl, which is a big reasons I’m against it.

    Less with the ignorant snark; more with the informed, thoughtful comments, please.

  28. J sub D,

    Of course they didn’t seek out black residents – it’s exactly the conundrum you mention.

    The solution? Fewer urban highways, fewer takings of residential properties, fewer takings overall.

    If you’ve absolutely got to build an urban highway, build a tunnel. If you can’t do that, you’re going to have to take a lot of poor people’s homes, so, once again, build fewer urban highways.

  29. “…the median income was about $19,000, 34 percent of adults had less than a high school diploma, and 58 percent of residents were members of minority groups.”

    Isn’t this the dictionary definition of “blight?”

    Hardly, there are loads of low income neighborhoods, even low income cities, that are not blighted. But you knew that, didn’t you?

  30. The solution? Fewer urban highways, fewer takings of residential properties, fewer takings overall.

    I can get onboard that.

  31. Joe,

    Does informed, thoughtful snark work for you? Not that I have any to offer, I’m more an ignorant comment man myself. I’m just curious.

    Incidentally, if single-use zoning increases sprawl, Houston must be an interesting anomaly.

  32. BTW, I’m not suggesting that you’re gay.

    Which means you’re also not suggesting he’s straight. We’ve got our eye on both of you.

  33. T,

    Houston is a good example of how private policies modelled on government regulations will have the same effect as those regulations.

  34. joshua corning,

    The problem with your too-cute-by-half snark about hated presidents is that Democrats don’t hate Lincoln.

    You should stick with “Democrats hate white people.” It’s clearly more comfortable territory for you.

  35. “Clinton responded with capital gains tax cuts targetted towards homeowners selling their primary residence and farmers who saw their land’s value rise. Can’t have the same thing happen here.”

    Honestly, I’m not following.

    If we encourage other people to oppose eminent domain abuse because it hurts minorities and the poor, what, like in your example, might happen exactly?

    …and just to be painfully clear, I’m really not getting it. Maybe it’s just the capital gains tax cut example–I have a hard time thinking of those as anything other than good.

  36. “Blight” in this context is defined as “creeping vacancy or abandonment.” It’s about the underuse and under-investment of urban properties making abutting areas less inviting for development and use, thus causing them to become under-used and under-invested.

    It has nothing to do with income. A highly-profitable car lot can have a blighting effect on abutting residential properties. A neighborhood can be packed to the gills with low-income residents, suffer from high crime and poverty, and have only low-end luquor stores and check-cashing places, but if the residential and commercial space if vull or close to it, it isn’t blighted.

  37. Ken,

    Once Congress passed Clinton’s targetted captial gains tax cuts – the ones that helped the poster children – the momentum for capital gains tax cuts that would help stock traders and Paris Hilton was dissipated for a decade.

  38. “Standing up for property rights for *all* is the principled way to oppose eminent domain. Opposing it because it hurts poor people and minorities only furthers the misguided notion that poor people and minorities are somehow more worthy of protection from government abuse because they work harder, are less appreciated, encounter more discrimination, etc.”

    I don’t know if you’re an objectivist, or something, but I usually part company with them over having to be right for the right reasons.

    …If pitching “because it hurts poor people and minorities” is what it takes to get a chunk of the public to oppose government abuse, then I say do it.

    I really don’t care about the larger philosophical implications.

  39. “Once Congress passed Clinton’s targetted captial gains tax cuts – the ones that helped the poster children – the momentum for capital gains tax cuts that would help stock traders and Paris Hilton was dissipated for a decade.”

    Are there any other causes you’d argue that about? …that we can’t take a step forward ’cause then we’ll be pushed two steps back?

  40. “You should stick with “Democrats hate white people.” It’s clearly more comfortable territory for you.”

    Democrats hate white people? I thought Dems hated colored people, therby explaining the last sixty years of socialist policies that destroyed the black nuclear family.

    Just to cut you racists off at the start. Do not remark on the “colored” phrase as it is simply a brief form of “people of color”. I realize that “people of color” is politically correct and “colored” is not (although why is not clear to me), but I prefer brevity over racism.

  41. Well, wayne, I think you’re achieved the holy grail: brief racism.

    No, I’m really not interested in arguing your crackpot theories. I think that black people can figure out for themselves which party does the best job advocating for their ideals and interests.

    PS – it ain’t the one you vote for, wayne.

  42. J sub D-

    Yes.

    —–

    Joe-

    You might be surprised at what I don’t know. Stories about “blight” from all over the country prominently feature as a defining factor the dread spectre of businesses and homes in close proximity.

  43. “… residents of areas targeted for private economic development projects that rely on eminent domain are … less educated … than people in surrounding communities … where the use of eminent domain was approved … 34 percent of adults had less than a high school diploma … The corresponding numbers for nearby neighborhoods were … 45 percent …”

    This doesn’t make sense. How do you conclude that the residents of non-eminent domain neighborhoods are less educated when 45% of those residents had less than a high school education, compared to 34% in the eminent domain neighborhoods?

    Is this a typo, Jacob Sullum?

  44. I know, P.

    The misuse of the perfectly valid term “blight” has justified no end of malarky.

    That’s why it’s such a pet peeve of mine.

  45. I think joe’s initial point, which almost everyone seems to have missed, is that in a study about eminent domain abuse, a focus on property owners rather than “residents”, which may include tenants of apartment buildings, makes more sense, since eminent domain is about taking private property and not about dislocating renters.

  46. 2:46 post should read:

    This doesn’t make sense. How do you conclude that the residents of non-eminent domain neighborhoods are MORE educated when 45% of those residents had less than a high school education, compared to 34% in the eminent domain neighborhoods?

    Guess Jacob isn’t the only one not screening posts carefully …

  47. Ken Schultz says: “What’s wrong with being against eminent domain…”

    Should have read, “What’s wrong with being against eminent domain abuse…”, but most of you already knew that.”

    Liked the original formulation better, Ken — opposing ALL eminent domain, not just the ones leftists think are abusive. All involuntary confiscations of property by government where the government dictates the terms of sale are abusive.

  48. speaking of eminent domain, how’s that elevated rail project coming along, jh? 😉

    Or are you not on that part of the island (or even, maybe, a different island)?

  49. “If the government bypassed cheaper or similar neighborhoods to route the road through a black neighbor it is not only reprehensible but a violation of so many federal laws, the constitution being one, you could build a bonfire with the printouts. I suspect, however, that Minneapolis is facing the conundrum I referred to. So, what’s the proposed solution?”

    The proposed solution is to eliminate eminent domain. Make the highway department negotiate with the homeowners and offer prices that they will voluntarily accept, rather than saying “This is the price we’re gonna pay you, and you have to take it, even if you value the property at more than what we do.”

  50. Joe says: “No, I’m really not interested in arguing your crackpot theories. I think that black people can figure out for themselves which party does the best job advocating for their ideals and interests.

    PS – it ain’t the one you vote for, wayne.”

    Ummm, joe — in the real world of voting, “ideals” tend to be the exact opposite of “interests”

    Ideals of black voters — being independent, prosperous, and equal, with strong families

    Perceived interests of black voters, as expressed in who they actually vote for en masse — having statists hand out money we haven’t earned, stolen from other people, in a destructive manner that makes it hard to achieve the ideals above

    Not that the Republicans, with a few exceptions like Ron Paul, are significantly less statist …

  51. The proposed solution is to eliminate eminent domain. Make the highway department negotiate with the homeowners and offer prices that they will voluntarily accept, rather than saying “This is the price we’re gonna pay you, and you have to take it, even if you value the property at more than what we do.”

    Nice theory. Let me take a stab at this. There is always, ALWAYS, going to be someone who will not sell at any price, offtimes an old curmudgeon. There are alot of people who will hold on to their property in hopes of getting a better price. The government builds things, constitutionally even. Your propsal would make that extremely expensive if not effectively impossible. The propsal that the government build less makes sense, your proposal would cause the government to build not at all. I find that untenable.

  52. Reinmoose says: “speaking of eminent domain, how’s that elevated rail project coming along, jh? 😉

    Or are you not on that part of the island (or even, maybe, a different island)?”

    It’s just lovely. They’re collecting the taxes for the rail right now, even though they have no federal funding approved, and are still squabbling over where to build it, how to build it, how much it will really cost, etc. Oh, and the current proposed route, because of political maneuvering, leaves out the airport, the university, and Waikiki. And the cost estimates and ridership numbers are not based on the actual costs and ridership of other areas that have actually put built such projects, but appear to have been pulled out of someone’s arse …

    And I live on the part of Oahu that gets to pay the tax even though no one here will ever use the rail, assuming it gets built.

    They’re still years away from confiscating the property of poor people at below market rates …

    In other words, it’s working about as well as the rest of our government. 😛

  53. The Town of Telluride, CO is currently condemning and seizing land outside of their town limits through eminent domain to convert into open space park land. The land is owned by a wealthy company. The reasoning on the part of Telluride is that the land, while outside of town limits, is a sort of gateway into the town along the highway, and if the private owner were to develop that land, Telluride as a town and community would suffer. There was an interview on CO NPR with the mayor of telluride and a lawyer of the landowner and can be heard here: http://www.kcfr.org/cgi-bin/comatters/comatters_play.m3u?play=3232&type=comatters.m3u
    Both sides in this one have a ton a money, so it will be interesting to see what happens there…

  54. In response to this: “The proposed solution is to eliminate eminent domain. Make the highway department negotiate with the homeowners and offer prices that they will voluntarily accept, rather than saying ‘This is the price we’re gonna pay you, and you have to take it, even if you value the property at more than what we do.'”

    J sub D said: “Nice theory. Let me take a stab at this. There is always, ALWAYS, going to be someone who will not sell at any price, offtimes an old curmudgeon. There are alot of people who will hold on to their property in hopes of getting a better price. The government builds things, constitutionally even. Your propsal would make that extremely expensive if not effectively impossible. The propsal that the government build less makes sense, your proposal would cause the government to build not at all. I find that untenable.”

    The result of the policy I’m talking about would be similar to what happens when a group of investors proposes buying out the stock of an underperforming company — the value of the stock shoots up, and other people tend to jump in and start bidding on the company. But, despite this, takeovers happen all the time, and the owners of the company taken over benefit from the transaction. And, despite this requirement to use voluntary transactons to purchase properties, huge multi-property buyouts for big-box stores, factories, etc. happen all the time.

    Now imagine if we had a law in place where the government could acquire the stock of a company at whatever price they thought was “fair”, and transfer it to another company with better political connections. The shareholders of the company being taken over would get hosed.

    As for the whacko holdout problem you note — have you seen the pictures of the massive regrading project in Seattle around the turn of the century (I believe it was for the Denny Way area)? They had a few of those holdouts, with their properties precariously perched on top of hills of dirt, surrounded by the valley of the project excavations made on the property of the vast majority of homeowners who had sold. Eventually the holdouts caved, and Denny Way got built.

    And if we shrink the size of government because it becomes harder and more expensive to build public works projects, making private roadbuilding etc. more competitive, I’ll shed few tears.

  55. Wow, jh, that sounds like almost as big of a disaster as your bottle bill/recycling program 🙂

  56. Consider a city that declares a neighborhood that contains a mix of small industrial and residential properties to be an urban renewal area, for the purpose of buying out the industrial properties and relocating them out of the residential neighborhood.

    There’s been a lot of discussion around this hypothetical, but I can’t recall any eminent domain case where industrial property owners were forced out to make way for residential. Any real-world examples?

  57. I think joe’s initial point, which almost everyone seems to have missed, is that […] since eminent domain is about taking private property and not about dislocating renters.

    I don’t think that was joe’s initial point. He was referring to industrial versus residential use, but didn’t say anything about renters.

  58. If the government bypassed cheaper or similar neighborhoods to route the road through a black neighbor it is not only reprehensible but a violation of so many federal laws, the constitution being one, you could build a bonfire with the printouts.

    That may be true now. The one local case I’m familiar with, where a section of a Mexican-American neighborhood that pre-dated the State of California was torn down to make room for a highway, happened before all those pesky laws, back when an all-white city council could pick on brown-skinned people with aplomb. Now, we Americans are all much more enlightened, and welcome Hispanic people to our country with open arms.

    I don’t think the neighborhood was selected just because it had the cheapest property values, by the way. There were definitely some folks who purposely wanted to destroy the neighborhood.

  59. Mike Laursen,

    The real-world example I had in mind was the City of Lowell, Massachusetts’ Acre Urban Renewal Plan. “The Acre” is the name of a neighborhood. Redeveloping the neighborhood so that there was an urban area unencumhered by industry, and an industrial area unencumbered by residences, has been a boon to both.

    And no, I didn’t say anything about renters. But as far as the impact on renters goes, it’s notable how Reason and the IJ’s “Little Guy” line of argument manages not to ever take in the interests of people who aren’t rich enough to own property.

  60. Trolling for Joe – Threadjacking, etc.

    “No, you do not need to have your workplace literally on the same block as you {sic} home to be able to get to a job.”

    Joe, I thought your arguement in favor of the minumum wage was precisely that the poor MUST have their workplace on the same block as their home, since they “lack the mobility” required to be able to respond as though the market was free.

    CB

  61. I must say I’m really not clear on why you can’t be libertarian AND actually care when poor people get hosed. Or why you can’t care about poor people getting hosed AND it being the result of nonlibertarian policy?

  62. argument, minimum

    Ooopsie.

    CB

  63. “Wow, jh, that sounds like almost as big of a disaster as your bottle bill/recycling program :)”

    Reinmoose — Do you live in Hawaii? How do you know about all the knuckleheaded stuff getting imposed on us?

    Nah, the bottle bill is chump change, and avoidable if, like me, you don’t buy soda — the rail tax is several orders of magnitude more expensive.

    The hilarious thing about the bottle bill is how they keep hiking up the maximum size of containers subject to the tax, as consumers switch to larger and larger soda bottles not subject to the tax. The soda arms war. 🙂

  64. it’s notable how Reason and the IJ’s “Little Guy” line of argument manages not to ever take in the interests of people who aren’t rich enough to own property.

    Have to disagree with you, joe. That they didn’t bring up the fate of renters implies nothing about their concern for poor people. In fact, the Institute for Justice has often provided free legal assistance to disadvanted folks.

  65. jh –
    I think your stock analogy is flawed. If I own 5% of company small and don’t want to sell to company large, but the other 95% of the stockholders do want to be acquired by company large what are my options. Sell or sue. Same as a homeowner. I don’t get to stop the acquisition of ny 5%. I’m no expert on hostile takeovers, but they happen and are generally not unanimous. Still company small, including your piece of company small, is sold.

  66. You should stick with “Democrats hate white people.” It’s clearly more comfortable territory for you.

    Huh??!?!

    I don’t think dems hate white people…hell they love white people who find crafty ways to keep black people poor and powerless.

    Democrats hate black people…how else would you explain 40-50 years of continued poverty and dispossession of blacks in American under their care?

  67. “…it’s notable how Reason and the IJ’s “Little Guy” line of argument manages not to ever take in the interests of people who aren’t rich enough to own property.”

    We are talking about demolishing “blighted” residential properties in low rent neighborhoods and replacing them with commercial property, aren’t we?

  68. Yawn. Trolls. Oh, look, they’re mis-stating my arguments and calling me a racist. Wow, that’s, er, well done, fellas.

    Ken, Mike L.,

    They pick their poster children well, I’ll give them that. It just seems that they don’t ever appear to back little guys whose quandry doesn’t lend itself to arguing positions that benefit property owners at the expense of efforts to advance the public good.

    Take the Kelo case. There was a good, strong due process argument to made, one that had at least as much of a chance of saving the plaintiff’s homes as their implausible denial of a century + of Fifth Amendment law. But doing so would have required them to make an “even if” argument about the constitutionality of redevelopment takings.

    They decided they’d rather leave that one lying on the table.

  69. The Institute for Justice spends a lot of its time fighting against occupational licensing laws and for school choice. Often with low-income clients. Neither of those issues involves property rights.

  70. “Rich, White Property Owners Disproportionately Hurt by Eminent Domain Abuse”

    The law of averages at work.
    There are more of them with land to lose.

  71. J sub D said: “I think your stock analogy is flawed. If I own 5% of company small and don’t want to sell to company large, but the other 95% of the stockholders do want to be acquired by company large what are my options. Sell or sue. Same as a homeowner. I don’t get to stop the acquisition of ny 5%. I’m no expert on hostile takeovers, but they happen and are generally not unanimous. Still company small, including your piece of company small, is sold.”

    I agree it’s not a perfect analogy — don’t have all day to mull over each post — but the point is that even in a hostile takeover, generally the price of the stock goes way up compared to the price before the buyout happened. And, if you owned a property that the government wanted to condemn, which scenario would likely give you the best price?

    1) The government takes the property, and gives you the price they decide to offer you.

    2) The government has to get 95% of the homeowners in the tract they want to acquire to agree to voluntarily sell, and has to pay 100% of the homeowners the lofty marginal price needed to convince the 95th percentile holdouts to sell at.

    Seems scenario #2 would be a better deal for property owners than currently, AND would end the whacko holdout problem to boot.

    Thanks!

  72. There weren’t very many black people in Minneapolis, but the highway department managed to find them.”

    15% of the residents of Minneapolis are black, higher than the national average. Nice try, though.

  73. R C,

    The piece was from the 1970s, referring to actions that took place in the 1960s.

    Nice try, though.

  74. Interesting article in today’s (6/25/07) Philadelphia Daily News showing just how abusive government can be.

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