The one year anniversary of the Kelo Supreme Court decision was actually a week ago, on June 23. For those unfamiliar with the case, the Supreme Court essentially said that the government had the authority to use eminent domain to transfer property from one private citizen to another. The government always had this power when it came to establishing public property, such as parks or highways. But now, the government can take away the property of a small-business owner and give it to Sears or Wal-Mart. The reason for this is because the state or local government can make more in tax revenue.
There are a few good articles on this topic.
No recipient of the fruits of eminent domain can honestly call himself a champion of individual liberty. Free-marketeers routinely support the big retail chain stores against their anti-corporate critics, but companies that lobby for privileges don’t deserve support. How can they demand freedom to operate in the marketplace when they refuse to forswear the receipt of stolen property?
Of course, the New York Times thinks its a great idea.
Probably the most troubling thing about the Kelo decision is that it almost came with a whimper. A year ago, I did not even know about the decision until I happened upon the Institute for Justice website. It seems that no one really talks about it. Watching or reading the news, this decision seemed like it was hardly at the forefront of the headlines. This was one of the biggest decisions the Supreme Court has made in the last few years.
This is why politics is so frustrating. So much time is spent on emotionally charged issues, while many more important issues are on the back burner. To be fair, many state governments are taking steps addressing the Supreme Court decision, but the issue only receives mention in passing in the mainstream media. The flag burning amendment, whether one is pro or con, hardly threatens our liberty nearly as much as this violation of property rights. Gas prices are on the forefront of the news, because it affects everyone. So does the Kelo decision, but no one realizes it.
Politicians love to focus on the more emotionally-charged wedge issues. Some of these issues are worthy of the attention they receive, but so is the Kelo issue. For some reason, this case is not emotionally charged, and I have to wonder why. I guess people suppose it will not affect them. However, many do not know about this in the first place. The whole point is not “oh, people are so ignorant, they need to be informed like me.” Not at all. I just happen to read articles of a libertarian persuasion. I just wonder why the politicians and media are not discussing this issue like they do others. As I said earlier, many legislatures are takign steps to address the problem, but there seems to be no voice from the leadership; any work is almost done behind the scenes. Why are more Republicans not outraged? They should hate big government stepping all over the little guy. Why are more Democrats not outraged? This is a case of big business running all over the little guy. It is an unholy union of big government and big business. Maybe each party’s love of one supersedes the hatred of the other.