Monday, July 04, 2005

Property-siezing the beginning of Sovietisation?

Further commentary here from economist Richard Salsman on the Kelo et al v City of New London decision evicting people from their Connecticut homes to make way for a shopping mall. (My own earlier comment on this is here and also here.)

Salsman discusses the taking in the wider context both of planning and zoning laws, and he draws an even wider bow, arguing that Soviet-type five-year planning is the ultimate endpoint of the court's ruling.
It's worth understanding two other perverse aspects of the Court's majority opinion yesterday: 1) it justified the taking on the grounds that the municipality (the City of New London, Connecticut) had a "comprehensive plan" and 2) it held that the government not need even argue or guarantee that a taking will foster net economic benefits or greater tax-revenues. Now, what "plans" could be more "comprehensive" than, say 5-year plans for an entire nation, like those contrived by central planners in the former Soviet Union? According to the Court, the bigger, more comprehensive and more audacious the government plan, the more likely it will pass judicial muster in the future and the more it can entail unjust takings. Thus the Court only now condones unjust takings at the municipal level; it positively invites still-wider planning and takings at the state and federal levels. Worse, such central planning need not even pretend to engender net economic benefits. Take note, would-be central planners and ex-Soviet commissars: for there's now a welcome place for you -- in America.
He concludes by quoting two of the most cogent short arguments for upholding the right to property, those made by Atn Rand and by Jean-Baptiste Say, both worthy of your attention.

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