Property Rights

Why Progressives Should Support Eminent Domain Reform

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As Virginia moves toward eminent domain reform, Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle explains why progressives should applaud:

You don't hear about many eminent-domain cases pitting scrappy local governments against Lockheed Martin, Exxon or Proctor & Gamble. To the contrary, recent cases have involved:

•Roanoke seizing a building that belonged to the owners of a mom-and-pop flooring company so it could turn the property over to Carilion, a billion-dollar health-care corporation.

•Norfolk trying to seize the property of Central Radio so it could hand the land over to Old Dominion University.

•VDOT trying to cheat a small day-care owner out of just compensation — and spending more on lawyers to fight the case than it would have shelled out by paying her original asking price.

In these and other cases, those rooting for the underdog share common cause with property-rights activists….

Abuses such as those outlined above represent cases of Robin Hood in reverse. Like the original Kelo v. New London case that gave local governments a green light to steal, they take from the poor and give to the rich. Condemnations rarely if ever involve the seizure of fancy McMansions in tony gated communities. Rather, they run roughshod over working-class neighborhoods.

As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in her Kelo dissent, "the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." Indeed, permitting the use of eminent domain for economic development makes that not only possible, but necessary . There would be no point in seizing a building from Verizon and giving it to a hair salon. Eminent domain for the purpose of economic development always — always — goes in the other direction.

He offers a couple other reasons as well. I noted Hinkle's take on the Roanoke case last year. In a 2005 column, I wondered how The New York Times could applaud Kelo. Ilya Somin explored "The Limits of Anti-Kelo Legislation" in a 2007 Reason article.

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  1. The left doesn’t care.

    To the left, eminent domain on the Kelo model has to be maintained in order to make sure no one questions the idea that all property ultimately belongs to the community, and that no one questions the idea that a “public purpose” is whatever the state says it is.

    For those two principles they would run over their own mothers with demolition equipment.

    1. and the right is happy the govt transfers local property taxes as vouchers WITHOUT local voter approval. another property rights enfringement.

      1. You’re right: there should be no local property taxes.

        1. He was also correct in identifying local income taxes as “another property rights infringement”. He also showed that he does have a shift key or at least a caps lock key.

          1. Orrin is never “right”. About anything.

      2. Hello, Piss Facktery!

        Glad to see your complete generalizations not based in any actual circumstance can be used in multiple settings!

    2. ^^^ THIS**2 ^^^

      The left isn’t concerned with the smallholders they propose to screw, because they’re happy to assume the collective “we” are going to decide what to do with “society’s” wealth. As far as they’re concerned, eminent domain restrictions are just another useless piece of constitutional frippery from a bygone era.

    3. they would run over their own mothers with demolition equipment.

      Wait, leftists are Vogons?

  2. The reason progressives don’t make a stink about eminent domain abuse is that it would require them to believe that property belongs to individuals.

      1. Fluffy beat me to it. Barely.

        1. They only believe in property rights when it’s THEIR property. If it isn’t, the owner can self-fuck for all they care.

          Especially if it’s a “McMansion” on the P&Z chopping-block.

  3. columnist A. Barton Hinkle explains why progressives should applaud

    That’s asinine. Progressives don’t give a shit about the poor. They are solely about expanding the power of the state so that it can engineer whatever they consider to be “progressive” outcomes. If poor people get squashed during that process…fuck ’em. Progressives couldn’t care less.

    1. You lie!

    2. Really, this is like a historical bad dream that keeps happening every night. Julius Caesar used the common folk to seize power. Ditto the revolutionaries in France in 1789 and in Russia in 1917.

      It’s pretty rare that a movement that talks about the common man really gives a crap about the common man. This is not to say that many supporters of such movements don’t have real concerns, but they’re often just dupes of their movement’s leadership.

      Sorry.

      1. Except that in France the sans coullotes were so fucking scary that the Jacobins ended up doing whatever the angry mob wanted so as to avoid having their heads on pikes.

        1. Temporary setback.

    3. They care, Epi… but only in the sense that any help for the poor – inadvertent or completely planned and accomplished not by accident – only helps get more voters into their gene pool.

      Same reason for progs pushing for more union members, which =s more voters for Team Blue.

      But I state the obvious.

      Cue Tony in 3…2…

  4. Well. It’s certainly true that the activists pushing back against eminent-domain abuse tend to come from the right side of the political spectrum: Americans for Prosperity (conservative), The Institute for Justice (libertarian), the Cato Institute (libertarian), the Family Foundation of Virginia (conservative) and so on. Generally speaking, government seizures of private property are to right-wingers what rising income inequality is to left-wingers: a profound injustice crying out for redress.

    GO TEAM RED11!

  5. Why Progressives Should Support Eminent Domain Reform

    When was the last time property rights won versus anything for them, much less with TRAINS!!!!!!! in the back of their minds.

    Pic related, it’s how some folks feel in the presence of grand high-speed rail designs

    1. Wow. That was very…..visual.

    2. awesome

    3. PHILOSORAPTOR IS PLEASED.

  6. Where is Tony to come in and claim that Libertarians support theft if it is taking from the poor to give to the rich?

    1. You forgot the part about how cutting welfare while cutting taxes = stealing from the poor to give to the rich.

  7. Condemnations rarely if ever involve the seizure of fancy McMansions in Tony’s gated community. Rather, they run roughshod over working-class neighborhoods.

    FTFY. Remember, poor people are icky, provincial and unsophisticated!

    1. Thanks for the correction. I was wondering why they would keep Tony out. (Or more quizzically, how they would make the gate out of Tony.)

  8. Has anyone done a followup on noteworthy eminent domain cases to see if the ‘benefits’ came anywhere near what the developers claimed?

    It would be interesting to do a systematic review.

    1. I seem to recall some recent coverage here about the status of New London…or you mean besides that case?

      1. I know that the New London development collapsed, but I was thinking more of a general survey of eminent domain cases.

        I suspect it would find that:
        1) The benefits were much smaller than claimed.
        2) There were extra costs to the government (taxpayers) for things ‘unforeseen’. (I am not talking about the inevitable overruns, which also cost the taxpayers money.)
        3) Once the city/state was committed to the project – in the sense that they had already spent huge sums – the developers came back to ‘renegotiate’ the deal.

        1. In California, a great many plots of land (in neighborhoods) taken under eminent domain sit vacant. The projects were never even started let alone completed. One of the many blessings of Community Redevelopement Agencies.

          1. Yeah, I forgot to mention the political grafting.

  9. Jobs, Housing and Hoops!

    a.k.a, bread and circuses!

    1. They actually think that The Yards is going to allow the riffraff(lower class blacks and whites) in, other than to clean the place up?

      They don’t steal poor people’s land to give back to poor people you fucking dumbasses.

      …anger

      1. This is why I’m proposing the next stadium be built on the grounds of the most expensive country club in the area.

  10. You’ll never get invited back to those cocktail parties if you keep harping on property rights.

  11. The proposed amendment does include verbiage that looks suspiciously like a “blight exception” to give the politically connected some wiggle room when seizing from commoners. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

    Hinkle rules.

    1. The proposed amendment does include verbiage that looks suspiciously like a “blight exception” to give the politically connected some wiggle room when seizing from commoners. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

      I think you are correct to be cynical; the amount of “blight” is inversely proportional to the value of what is to replace the “blight”. I still get angry whenever I think of the Kelo decision and the fact that the land that was stolen was never even used for that stupid pharmacy.

      1. Didn’t Columbia buy up property in NYC and then purposely let it go to shit so the government could declare the neighborhood blighted? The blighted designation, of course, was used as justification in seizing the remaining land.

        1. Yes. We Did!

  12. Ask any progressive if she’d like her house to be expropriated by the state. I think most people(including center-leftists) don’t really pay attention to these things, but if you prod them, they will definitely denounce outrageous cases of wealth redistribution (but wouldn’t ban the practice altogether because, you know, they’re statists).

    Also, please stop attributing leftist inconsistency to malice. If you frame the issue to progressives as “You know, state intervention (especially eminent domain) isn’t always a good thing because it usually hurts poor people and favors rich people”, you’ll get a much more favorable response than with “You socialists just can’t accept private property, can you?” There are plenty of pragmatic reasons to be a libertarian, so it’s wiser to use those when dealing with progs – first principles and NAP won’t carry you far when you’re talking to people who’ve grown accustomed to thinking of the state as a legitimate institution (that is, about 99% of the people – they can’t all be hopelessly immoral). And even when talking behind their backs, it just seems reactionary and rude – there’s no moral chasm between libertarians and the left, it’s just a matter of starting from different principles.

    1. “there’s no moral chasm between libertarians and the left, it’s just a matter of starting from different principles.”

      Theft is not a principle.

    2. If you commit or endorse an action that has consequences that not only have a high probability of happening, but are also foreseeable, then I would posit that you are morally responsible for those consequences.

      Willful ignorance of immorality is not morality.

      1. So when libertarians propose to repeal the law forcing ERs to treat all comers regardless of whether they can pay, we are responsible for all the people who die or lose basic bodily functions outside the ER?

        1. You do realize that, just because the law is gone does not mean that ERs have to stop doing what they do…right?

          I mean, you know the difference between “force” and “choice”…right?

          1. there’s liability issues fool

    3. If you frame the issue to progressives as “You know, state intervention (especially eminent domain) isn’t always a good thing because it usually hurts poor people and favors rich people”, you’ll get a much more favorable response than with “You socialists just can’t accept private property, can you?”

      If you’re dealing with an ignorant, casual liberal, sure. They probably haven’t thought these things through.

      But why are the most ardent defenders of things like Kelo movement progressives? It’s because they see strong property rights as anathema to public works, and they’re willing to accept the displacement and theft of property from the poor because they serve as a buffer against the erosion of central planning powers.

      From The New Republic:

      Defenders of judicial restraint, particularly liberals, should applaud the Court’s refusal to second-guess the economic judgments of city and state legislatures. Had the Court come out the other way, as libertarian supporters of the so-called Constitution in Exile urged it to do, the decision would have unleashed a torrent of judicial activism that might have called into question everything from local zoning ordinances to environmental laws.

      Yes, Kelo, a model of judicial restraint for its redefinition of “public use,” is necessary so planning boards can zone. How low can you possibly set the bar for civil rights? I’m willing to consider liberals/progressives/whatever as simply misguided in some areas, but regarding eminent domain they’re downright evil.

    4. God, I hate this spam filter.

      I’m not going to retype a long post, but here’s the bottom line: movement progressives really don’t give a shit about the poor if they stand in the way of central planning powers. Here’s what a defense of that looks like:

      Defenders of judicial restraint, particularly liberals, should applaud the Court’s refusal to second-guess the economic judgments of city and state legislatures. Had the Court come out the other way, as libertarian supporters of the so-called Constitution in Exile urged it to do, the decision would have unleashed a torrent of judicial activism that might have called into question everything from local zoning ordinances to environmental laws.

      That’s right, Kelo, a model of judicial restraint (never mind the radical definition of “public use”), is necessary so planning boards can zone. How low can you possibly set the bar for civil rights? The standard liberal position on eminent domain is evil, pure and simple, and one’s ability to calmly appeal to their prejudices by explaining that it helps rich people doesn’t change that fact.

    5. Well, they DON’T support private property.

      From my perspective, eminent domain abuse and similar things are an inevitable consequence of the lack of support for property rights.

      Any time you have a system where private property can be taken for public purposes, it’s bound to be abused. Progressives don’t get it because they don’t get that property rights exist to protect people from such abuses in the first place.

      Saying that progressive would be down with it if we pointed out that poor people are hurt is a bit like saying “progressive don’t really have any principles, they’re just against anything that hurts poor people”.

    6. you’ll get a much more favorable response than with “You socialists just can’t accept private property, can you?”…first principles and NAP won’t carry you far when you’re talking to people who’ve grown accustomed to thinking of the state as a legitimate institution[.]

      I do agree that the left can’t accept the concept of private property, but it’s not because of different starting first principles. They can’t accept private property in the same way that my goldfish can’t accept differential equations.

    7. Depends what kind of progressive.

      The original progressives weren’t redistributionist as a first principle, but only insofar as redistribution would scientifically advance “progress”. They could very well accept many instances of eminent domain for economic development for the very reasons it is put forth by its supporters, even if it redistributes wealth from the poor to the rich, just because it was somehow “scientific” to do so on a case by case basis. Progressives in the traditonal sense are suckers for the very redevelopment plans the US Sup. Ct. says are now necessary for economic development takings. They tend to be favorably impressed by bigness per se, so the aggregation of small lots into a big one for who-knows-what is intrinsically attractive to traditional progressives.

      However, there are many these days with a diminished cx to the old progressivism who identify themselves as progressive and do favor redistribution from rich to poor as a basic principle and would weight as a factor heavily against any sort of development which could be seen as doing the opposite, as redevelopment eminent domain frequently is.

  13. They don’t steal poor people’s land to give back to poor people you fucking dumbasses.

    But they do give six-figure make-work jobs and corporate board seats to non-poor “representatives.”

    “…has agreed to fully fund and staff an office of community relations, and to reserve in perpetuity three seats on the board of directors for representatives of our communities…”
    Cha-ching.

  14. Progressives, stand up for the property rights of the bourgeouisie? It is to laugh.

    No, eminent domain is the assertion of power by the collective over the grubby property-owning middle class. Such assertions are the raison d’etre of progressivism. Why would they ever oppose them?

    1. If we could emphasize that the BIG CORPORASHUNS benefit from it, maybe the boogeyman reflex will take over.

  15. You REALLY want to get steamed, read this book. It’s full of fun facts about fascism *cough* excuse me, I mean local gov’t:

    http://www.amazon.com/Governme…..140&sr=1-1

    1. Also, to be fair, the NAACP did condemn the ruling at the time. They’re usually not known for being “right-wing”.

  16. If you commit or endorse an action that has consequences that not only have a high probability of happening, but are also foreseeable, then I would posit that you are morally responsible for those consequences.

    Shorter:

    Foreseeable consequences are not unintended.

    1. For sure, I just wanted to fancy it up a bit.

    2. So the US intended to kill civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan when we started those wars?

  17. I think i am starting to understand libraltarianism.

    In essence the focus is to convince liberals to change what they believe at the expense of disagreeing with conservative on subjects we already agree with them on.

    Now it is is important to note that there is no logical reason why we would need to pay that expense. It is simply added into the equation randomly and has no benefits what so ever.

    The liberaltarians are saying lets try to make some political capital by convincing poeple our way is better for their goals (sounds like a good idea by itself and it will only cost what we choose to put into it) and at the same time lets shoot ourselves in the foot for no good reason.

    I say we start a completely new liberal/libertarian movement that does not involve shooting ourselves in the foot….and as an added bonus begin to ignore the liberaltarains who advocate that we do.

    1. The shooting in the foot part is to prove that you don’t like conservatives.

      Basically, get liberals to trust you by saying nasty things about conservatives. Then use the liberals own cult-like willingness to believe anything a trusted liberal source tells them, to tell them that free markets are good.

      Won’t work. Problem is for most ‘liberals’ today, economics trumps social policy. They will support a socialist authoritarian (Chavez, H. Clinton), but never a free market civil libertarian (Ron Paul).

      It trumps social issues for them in the exact same way they say that it does for the Koch brothers.

      Hence as soon as you start talking that free market shit, you will instantly lose whatever credibility saying mean things about Republicans bought you.

  18. In these and other cases, those rooting for the underdog share common cause with property-rights activists….

    This does not compute.

  19. Defenders of judicial restraint, particularly liberals, should applaud the Court’s refusal to second-guess the economic judgments of city and state legislatures

    This is definitely one of the policy arguments they were making. That the Court, in leaving decisions to localities, promoted the goals of federalism by allowing these localities the flexibility and room for experimentation that would lead to better eminent domain laws. I would highly recommend anyone thinking seriously about common cause with the left to listen to the link below. Also, from sitting and listening to it again, it’ll provide self-satire for some of you. A caller talking about light-speed rail comes in at about forty minutes. Drink!

    And it’s from 2008, no less, before we were winning the future.

    http://www.cpbn.org/program/wh…..ent-domain

    This is the dean of the UConn law school on the radio, Jeremy Paul, debating (sort of) with Scott Bullock about the policies behind Kelo. The program features guests who had their homes taken away in CT, and those about to have them taken away in NJ. Bullock starts swinging nineteen minutes in. Nutmeggers might recognize public intellectual/lefty Colin McEnroe giving the proponents of eminent domain — who Paul impliedly represents by proxy — some earnest left-wing business at 21:30. Paul’s arguments for flexibility are around 28 minutes in.

    1. Light-speed rail? I would think that consumes a lot of energy.

      1. I’m almost certain he mentioned sprawl.

        /no snark or sarcasm

      2. Ohhhh…I just caught that. Funny.

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  21. Property rights are racist!

  22. US Debt-to-GDP Ratio Approaching 100% as DoD Boondoggle Billions Flow to Lockheed Martin: First in Funding, First in Fraud

    US total debt $55.6 trillion … US national debt $14.1 trillion … US federal budget deficit $1.5 trillion … US Debt-to-GDP Ratio 97% and rising … U.S. dollar rapidly losing world reserve currency status … as U.S. politicians bought and paid for by multinational corporations (legalized by Citizens United vs. FEC) cut education, close schools, convert asphalt roads to gravel and accelerate America’s descent into oblivion just so they can dole out millions daily to Lockheed Martin and other repeat-offender federal contractors for Rube Goldberg weapons systems and myriad military and non-defense boondoggles as unnecessary, unaffordable and unjustifiable as our unending wars for oil and profit:

    http://watchingfrogsboil.com/d…..first-in-f

  23. Reason, you don’t get it. Progressives don’t care about the underdog, they just use them to further their cause as the underdog is the easiest to exploit and gains much sympathy from others. If the government had to seize property to furthur the progressive’s Utopian energy goals, transportation system, etc. they would in turn call the underdog selfish, a stooge for the rich or whatever other familiar labels progressives use if he/she stood in the way.

  24. Good check list, I am running through it with my sites now .

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