Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Eminent Domain and the War In Iraq

Wrtten by Jersey McJones from Bring It On!

Well, the Rabbling Right has found itself a Righteous Rebellion – the fight against Eminent Domain. It’s an easy cause to take up, really. Government vs Private Property. Simple as that. It’s like standing up to the bully who’s kicking the kids out of the sand box – or is it? Actually, there is little data out there about it. Most Eminent Domain instances are sorted out in sealed settlements between public and private parties. Like Late Term Abortion, these are private matters for which the details are not to be made public. Politicians love those sorts of issues, because the privacy of the details precludes dealing with the truths of the matters.

Eminent Domain (or “ED,” for sake of my sanity), can be broken into two types demographically and two types politically: rural and urban / public and commercial. The lines between these are far from stark.

Rural areas, which tend to be Republican, run into ED when small communities grow into outlying land owned by speculators or farmers who are holding out for the biggest buck they can get from the taxpayers. These landholders are not heroes, just capitalists taking advantage of socialism. ED is used for roads, schools, and the like, and usually only when absolutely necessary. Given the traction these conservative wheels are getting from this issue, when it comes to ED, GOP lawmakers and public executives are lying low right now. It’s easy. ED in rural areas never really made big news nor was all that common an issue in the first place. So, the GOP has found itself an ace in the hole. I thank them for that – it’s consistent with their ideals and I will soon show just how much.

Urban ED is quite different from the rural brand. Cities tend to be run by Democrats and ED is routine. Urban areas dilapidate. It happens. It’s inevitable. Neighborhoods go bad and neighborhoods come back. It’s the evolutionary cycles of civilization in action. Rural areas are different. Forests don’t just up and die and come back to life again in the span of decades. It doesn’t work that way. So ED will continue in urban areas and as much as Democrats lament it these days, they’re stuck with it.

Conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, generally agree that ED is a very powerful tool of government – up there with raising taxes and going to war – that should only be employed as a last resort. We all agree that ED should only be used for public improvement and that better than fair compensation must be made to those who lose properties in the process. For example: if you tear down a neighborhood to build a new school, a road and some condos (a typical mixed-use type of plan), then condos, classroom seats and jobs in the commercial development should be proffered to the prior residents. It’s just plain ol’ give and take. Commercial interests, of course, will be involved. Private contractors are going to do the work, after all. And they may well want a stake. We can all agree that mixed-use ED is just common sense. If you redevelop an area, you should include housing, public service, and commercial space. Those things together make a functional community.

But there’s a line that can’t be crossed.

When the government steps onto someone’s property without showing that the property was dilapidated or dangerous, when the government contracts out work on the land without bidding or vetting the process, when the government imposes political, demographic and infrastructural development on a community that the community neither wants nor needs, when the government excludes the prior residents from partaking in the redevelopment, when the government usurps the domain over the resources of the land, when the government takes land that is not directly a part of a dilapidated or dangerous area but rather near it in the vain belief that somehow that proximity will improve the real problem, and when the end result is further dilapidation and danger – that’s when Eminent Domain is wrong.

And that’s exactly why going to war in Iraq was wrong.

Thank you Riled Righteous Rabblers of the Right. You proved why the war was wrong all along.