Thursday, June 23, 2005


Supreme Court Decision and Radio Show

I must say I'm a bit taken aback by the Supreme Court decision allowing local governments to seize people's homes so that the property can be used as part of private development initiatives. It just seems so ... (dare I say it?)... un-American! Ha! No, rather, I just think that it seems absolutely an affront to private property rights. I am a bit suspicious to begin with of the government being able to take private property for use in state projects, but that's something I'm willing to live with. But this just seems so purely and simply against the individual property owner. Sandra Day O'Conner put it nicely in her dissenting opinion.
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."
Once again The Man steps all over the little guy.

In other news, you might want to listen to the radio show that I do with my friend David tonight, 10 pm to 12 midnight (EST), on WMUC. You can tune in here, view previous playlists here, and even download the show and listen to it after the fact here (click or download the files titled "Terrapin_Sexxxpress_2200.mp3" and "Terrapin_Sexxxpress_2300.mp3" -- you can listen to last week's show if you click on those same files before the show tonight)

Initially, I was a bit confused, but after some reflection, I think I understand this decision. It says, in a way, that no "one" piece of private property ought to stand in the way of the public benefit. I know, I know, this case involved a private developer, but in the longer view, it should work to our, i.e., progressive's, benefit. After all, why wouldn't we want to replace blighted, slum-landlord owned property with, well, anything? Remember, progressives believe that government ought to on intimate terms with all its citizens. "Taking" is pretty intimate. No one person, no one group, no one neighborhood ought to stand in the way of a community's progress. Thanks for the time.
I see your point, I just can't really buy into it fully. I think the question becomes who is going to decide what is best for a community. Of course one of the more interesting aspects of this case is that the homes in question weren't "blighted" or "slum-landlord owned property" -- in fact, I would recon in most cases, slum landlords or owners of blighted property are only too happy to take the government's compensation for that property. So while I guess the "conservative" thing is to talk about property rights and the individual and all that, I just can't see what's so progressive about a politician or group of politicians who almost certainly do not live in the "community" they are dealing with) and a businessman or group of businessman getting together to decide the fate of an individual homeowner.
I have a hard time with this decision, from both ends. I don't think much of "owning" and "using" land, but I do think that there is something to putting community welfare above private benefit. What bothers me about this case (which admittedly I know very little about) is that a private corporation should influence local government's decision about the public good to such an extent. My own experiences with this sort of thing makes me wary of local government authorities being able to decide wisely, particularly when offered the sort of massaging that these well-funded and determined private corporations can bring to bear.

I'm also doubtful about the future 'benefit' of these proposed developments actually coming to fruition. And what consequences will there be for failure?

I just think it was another instance of determined head-in-the-sandism.

Aunt Deb
Re coldh2o's comment: No, I would not accept "anything" in place of slum housing. I really doubt that this ruling will have any positive impact on inner city housing and the plight of the poor. Municipal governments do not view low-income housing as a priority; this ruling will only underwrite that failing, in my opinion.

Aunt Deb
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