Baronger's Scribblings

Friday, June 24, 2005

Letters to Congress: re - Kelo

I have sent off my letters to my representatives:

Senator Kit Bond, MO-R
Senator Jim Talent, MO-R
Rep. Kenny Hulshof, MO-R (Ninth District)


What follows is an open letter to my representatives. I encourage everyone to write their representatives. There needs to be a rewrite of the law, if not the fifth amendment. The Constitution needs to mean something. Even those who say the Constitution is a living document, will have to agree that this goes to far.



Dear Honorable Sirs:

I would say in regards to the recent Kelo decision, "we need some sort of amendment to protect property rights." Sadly though we used to have such an amendment. While the nation has focused on homeland security, we have lost home security. Homeowners no longer can plead the fifth, in regards to their property.

Secure property ownership is one of the things which makes for a great nation, and a good economy. Who will invest, if they can easily loose their home? We have already seen such condemnations, abused in the St. Louis area. We need remedies, and legislation to more effectively define what the constitution says. We need legislation to define exactly what is just compensation, for the loss of hopes, dreams and memories.

I'm hoping that the three of you can work together to fix this mess. I live in a housing development, which is ripe for a rich developer to snap up. The money in home improvements that I invested in my condo is not reflected in it's valuation. Neither is the hope, sweat and love that I have poured into making this place a home. Please protect me, one of your powerless constituents from the rapine and greed of local governments and developers.

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Althouse on Kelo

Althouse seems to think that this case strikes a balance. I disagree, in that it might look good on paper, in practice it stinks.

Here is my comment:


I think the main point against the ruling is one of practice. Yes it might seem fair and strike a reasonable balance on paper. However as Justice Thomas pointed out, in practice this is bound to lead to corruption. I would set a high bar to when a taking can occur. To do anything else will stifle both home spending and business. Who will invest in improving their houses or businesses if they can lose them if someone else can put the property to better use. Remember all home improvements, don't really raise the property value.

I've put in several thousand dollars of work on my home, and it didn't raise my property value one iota. Not to mention the sweet and love I put into it, which wouldn't be compensated. A sense of home and security also likewise won't be compensated in a buyout. This is why the bar needs to be so high. Property is more then monetary value, it is also hope, dreams and security.

Also how much will the company that gets the property invest in it. The government could turn around and take it away from whoever they gave it to, at any time. Remember the city council is just speculating that the new owners will raise more money and make more jobs. Will the city retake the property if the new owners don't perform?


There is also speculation along these lines with regards to sports teams and takings. If economic interest is to be the overriding concern, why don't we go to a planned economy? After all planned economies seem to work so well. But like the speculation on this law, that's all the city of New London is doing. They are speculating. They have no proof, that their economic scheme is going to work. The development may flop. Pfizer may decide to pull out, or they might be brought out, or decide to cut back on their investment.

The city has no clue as to what will happen. But of course they have an economic plan, those always work. If a hotel is economically feasible for the area, then one will be built. We do not need the help of the council. Though of course I'm sure their paid accountants and economists might say different. But then such consultants are always helpful, and are above reproach, bribery, kickbacks and outright silly theories.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Kelo update -- Homeowners Lose

''The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says 'nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.' This is a tacit recognition of a preexisting power to take private property for public use, rather than a grant of new power.''


Please note that it says for public use. What happened is the Supreme court has decided that if a business says they can provide more taxes and jobs with your land then you can, that the government can take it. Hopefully the cities where the five justices live, decide to condemn their homes and give the property to walmart.

Forget homeland security. What about home security? This will in the end stifle business and hurt the economy. What person will start up a business, if someone can go around and snatch up their property. Don't give me just compensation, it never happens.

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Kelo v. New London, 04-108
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The decision was 5-4

Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony M. Kennedy, and David H. Souter have decided that you are no longer secure in your homes.

Justice O'Connor wrote the descent joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

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This used to be just a tool to blight and seize inner city property. Now I've seen it being used against higher income businesses and homes. It's going to end up with whoever has the money to bribe or intimidate a city council can decide to take anything they want. If only we had a constitutional amendment ... oh wait we already did.

I wonder when the first law firms will start sueing city councils that don't seize land for them. After all they can argue that they can increase taxes and provide more jobs then the current owner. Why a city council would be failing in their duty, if they don't cave to developers and big business. Of course whoever gets the land will only keep it, till someone richer and more powerful comes along.

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Addendum I
The Anchoress has a great article and links on her site.

Now, you people, your local government knows what’s best for you. They’ve carefully formulated an economic plan and if they say your house and private property need to go, that the life you have built there is irrelevent…well, you just have to listen to your Government Fathers and move along. Because they know what’s best, and have your best interest at heart. Your Government Parents love you and just want to take care of you.


Very true and I quite agree. But the supreme court apparently trusts our local council to know what's best for us. It's not like they are influenced by big money developers.

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Orin Kerr, is also on the case. It should be interesting to see what he has to say once he looks closer at this. Volokh, seems like an apologist for the court and I am yet to be moved by his arguments. Of course Volokh would have to labour like Hercules to change my mind, since this is one of my hot button issues. Nothing good can come out of this. Let's see where the opinions finaly settle out after all the arguments are hashed out.

Addendum II
Looks like Todd Zywicki finaly found his voice, after several false starts. My only reply to him is, "Do the Supreme Court justices take an oath to uphold and defend the constitution? If there is a clear violation in them overrunning an amendment, what can be done?." It looks like the Supreme Court has finaly ruled, "You can't fight city hall." I hope that the blogsphere keeps up interest in the case, for to be quiet invites disaster for all property owneers.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Blogs -- The silent majority finds its voice

This is another interesting, preference cascade article.

After all what happens if the silent Majority realizes that it is in fact a majority, or at least a very substantial minority. Blogs, livejournals and other modern communication networking is increasing the ability to communicate. With entry cost to communicating witht he world now virtually zero democracy may have at last come into the third age.

No longer can oligarchies and monopolies tell the masses what they should think.

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