Eminent domain abuse makes strange bedfellows


Eminent domain abuse -- using the power of the state to take land from ordinary folks and make it available to the politically connected -- is an issue that brings together social and economic liberals and social and economic conservatives. Both ends of the economic spectrum see the injustice of it, and liberals hate to see the power of the state used for special favors for big corporations, while conservatives hate to see government wielding such raw power on anyone's behalf. It's part of a continuum of issues, involving government doing special favors for special people, rather than serving all of its citizens. These issues bring left and right together, and create the kind of bipartisan coalition that now enjoys a majority on Tulsa's City Council.

While I've blogged about condemnations of eminent domain abuse from libertarian and conservative sources, a reader sends along an article from Mother Jones, a thoroughly left-wing publication, involving an eminent domain abuse case that was new to me. The case is set in Norwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. The article details how easy it is to get a neighborhood -- any neighborhood, no matter how nice -- designated "blighted." In this case, the developer paid the city to conduct an urban renewal study on the area he wanted -- a preliminary step to condemnation. The developer also set up the deal to ensure maximum peer pressure on the owners who did not wish to sell: If all owners sell willingly, everyone will be paid 35% above market value. If even one owner holds out, every property will go through condemnation. The article is well done, and they've also got an interview with an Institute for Justice attorney and a story about a reunion for a New Haven, Connecticut neighborhood lost to urban renewal in the '50s. Well worth reading.

(Reminds me of something I came across while browsing through the National Lampoon Newspaper Parody at the bookstore a couple of nights ago. I'll tell you about it later.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 23, 2004 2:24 AM.

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