Blogs > Liberty and Power > Kelo Calamity?

Aug 2, 2005 1:31 am

Kelo Calamity?

In an interesting article, Lew Rockwell argues that the newest developments in proposed state-level reforms in eminent domain law and practice demonstrate the benefits of decentralized governance, without a central state plenarily empowered to override local laws for the betterment of liberty, and makes the compelling point that

If we are to have a serious debate about eminent domain, we need to get beyond this ridiculous distinction between public and private use. Government is a racket that rewards itself through plunder and always in the name of public purpose. The truth is that there is no coherent way to separate public and private purpose when it comes to government. Its roads benefit private contractors and serve private interests. It’s true they are"free," but so are the streets in shopping malls, which are private. As for public schools, the teachers unions and hordes of bureaucrats are private interests too. Indeed, there is no such thing as the"public," there are only individuals.

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David Timothy Beito - 8/4/2005

Ironically, governor Riley, who is supporting the Alabama law limiting eminent doman, has been a longtime advocate of seizing property for commercial purposes over the years. In fact, the Libertarian governor candidate John Sophocleus (a man ahead of his time in this regard) tried to get traction on this issue back in 2003....without much success.

Riley may still be up to his old tricks, however. The Alabama bill makes an exception which allowed for the seizure of "blighted property" (never defined.

Mark Brady - 8/2/2005

Thanks for the link, Anthony. It's a good essay as we would expect from Lew Rockwell.

See also "States Ride Post-'Kelo' Wave of Legislation: Eminent domain curbs introduced in 28 states". This article notes that the initial enthusiasm to limit eminent domain laws is likely to dissipate. Which is, of course, no argument against what Rockwell has written but just a reminder of the long slog that faces those who defend justly acquired private property against its enemies.