Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More on stealing people’s homes

Paul Walker at Anti Dismal links to a piece by Don Boudreaux challenging the conventional idea that the existence of “hold outs” necessitates governments stealing people’s homes in order to build motorways, or power lines or railway lines.  Not so, says Boudreaux. 

While it is easy to imagine such problems [such as the recalcitrant homeowner], I doubt that they are significant enough to entrust politicians with the power to take private property.  .  .[Especially since] with skillful contracting maneuvers — for example, buying each plot of land contingent upon the successful purchase of all other plots of land necessary to build the road or airport — a government intent on serving the public should be able to do its job without powers of eminent domain.

Concludes Paul, “If only our government had the same skills as private developers.” But then they wouldn’t be in government, would they.

Frankly, if there’s burglars coming to Mt Albert by motorway, it’s the burglars who are there stealing people’s houses to build it.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Paul Walker said...

“If only our government had the same skills as private developers.” But then they wouldn’t be in government, would they.

Fair point. But you would hope they could at least learn from the private sector.

5/20/2009 02:34:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"But you would hope they could at least learn from the private sector."

But if they were the sort of people who could learn from the private sector . . . (etc.)

I think Mises's distinction between bureaucratic management and profit management is a useful one.

Sheldon Richman describes the difference.

Whereas in a system of profit management "consumers 'use' the price and profit-and-loss systems to direct entrepreneurs toward producing the things they want most urgently," bureaucratic management "overrides the decisions of individuals in order to carry out the objectives of the rulers."

So to be fair then, the problem is not just the people who are attracted to the system of bureaucratic management,but the system itself.

Driven by profits, private developers look after their tenants and their customers. Just look for example how the likes of Westfield look after them when they renovated St Lukes. And ontrast that with how Auckland's Council shat on shop owners and their customers when they renovated Queen St and constructed Britomart -- overriding the decisions of individuals in order to carry out the objectives of the rulers.

5/20/2009 03:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Craig said...

So...to summarise the originally linked posts argument, 'sometimes it has not been necessary to take private property via coercion in the past, therefore it is never necessary'.

Sounds watertight to me.

5/20/2009 05:25:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

You do a shit summary, Craig,

It is not necessary to take private property when property rights are respected -- and when sufficient knowledge exists of means by which property can be gained without coercion.

I take it you'd rather just be a thief.

5/20/2009 06:08:00 pm  
Blogger Paul Walker said...

Craig: better to say, there are workable and often used alternatives to having to use coercion. So why does the government use force so often? Because it can.

5/20/2009 07:26:00 pm  

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