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Manifest Domain

August 31, 2005

Let me share with you, friends, some thoughts on eminent domain. Many of you are concerned about that recent Supreme Court decision in the Kelo v New London case. There is no need for concern. Productive, law-abiding, loyal citizens have nothing to fear from this court decision. Ask yourself and answer ‘no’ to these questions: Have I allowed my property to fall into disrepair? Have I been hoarding property for a period of time such that its current market value far exceeds my own investment, and the local tax assessment? Have I been obstructing progress on a reinvigorating construction project — despite all of my neighbor’s houses having been sold and leveled — despite having been made a modestly reasonable offer on my property?

By the way, what’s all of this “my property” stuff. We are talking about land here. One can’t own the land. The notion is absurd. One can hold the property rights associated with that piece of land, but those rights are not, and can not, be granted in perpetuity. Over time, things change. What property once served the common good as work-a-day housing for manufacturing grunts, might now be better suited for retail or manufacturing space, administrative office space for local industry, or, let’s face it, more attractive, more valuable, upscale housing. What happens is: the property transcends its former humble use, to a level beyond the faculties of its humble title-holder. Good citizenship demands that one yield to the best interests of the larger community. Anything less would be selfish.

Why would we as a society allow a quaint one bedroom waterfront cabin — once someone’s weekend getaway — become a squalid run-down one bedroom house infested with grimy little welfare junkies? Sure these aren’t the traditional welfare-types you normally think of living off social security and food stamps. Perhaps they’re even working middle class types; but they are taking advantage of the system nonetheless. They continue to inhabit property, selfishly exploiting it for shelter and child rearing; when the property’s true worth is so much more to the public good of the community at large.

These hangers-on hoard this property selfishly when the fine institutions that nurture our communities could put that property to such a use that benefits every citizen. These are the institutions that you take your wages and healthcare and security from. These are the institutions that donate the parks and sports fields and the uniforms for the teams and the bands. They donate materials to repair the roof and reinforce the steeple at the local church. They pay the taxes that build the schools and repair the roads folks use to patronize their establishments. These are the institutions that sell you your hardware, groceries and cleaning supplies. They are the institutions that invent and manufacture the products that make life worth living.

Loyal, selfless citizens place their trust in these benevolent institutions in the stewardship of our communities.

All these institutions ask in return for their careful stewardship is that they be allowed to exercise their natural human rights as enumerated and preserved in the US Constitution. Amendment V of the Bill of Rights states “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Amendment V plainly gives our beneveloent institutions any and all property rights; so long as compensation is given in exchange for so-called ‘private property.’

This is where the most confusion regarding property rights arises, many good people just can’t get their head around the concept of “public use.” That is why a new piece of legislation is being introduced. We call it the Anti-Hoarding Land Redistribution for Private-Public Use Act. Once enacted, this legislation will do exactly as the title implies. It will streamline the process of land appropriation in cases where the common good will be better served. Really it’s a melding of the doctrine of Eminent Domain and a modern day form of Manifest Destiny. I like to call it the Anti-Hoarding Land Redistribution for Private-Public Use Act; or “Manifest Domain” for short.

I realize there will be an unusual amount of uneasiness and resistance to these legislative efforts, necessitating a marketing campaign directed at the decision makers and the politically powerful. The slogan: “If you lived/worked where we live, you’d be home/at work right now.” We will be bill-boarding ‘upwardly mobile’ neighborhoods with good visibility from the financial centers and highways in every metropolitan area. The billboards will include the smiling faces of actual residents of these communities in all of their diversity. They will relish the chance to help improve their neighborhood. Their willing participation will not go unnoticed by the decision makers and leaders who see the billboards.

Let me stress why this program, and this legislation, is so important. As you know there have been studies that have shown that diversity is the main cause of violent crimes such as murder, rape, theft and noise. Largely homogenized populations experience substantially lower crime rates. These violent offenses are usually interracial or inter-class crimes. By carefully selecting which areas or neighborhoods are eligible for redistribution we can eliminate much of this inherently dangerous diversity from our city populations. The result will be new communities where decision-makers and business and political leaders can reside and work free from crime and away from unsightly, blighted areas.

Those who find themselves redistributed, will have the opportunity to consider why; and will work toward improving their situation. If they hadn’t been so content in the past — coming home to their squat in some idyllic setting they had become accustomed to — maybe they would have been more inclined to improve their social status sooner. Such times of reflection lead to inspiration, and progress. Some folks just need the impetus to re-evaluate their situation and strive for success; whether it be through assuming a leadership role in the community, or working extra hours to afford a better home.

Leadership and hard work make people better people and the world a better place. As you can see, fellow citizens, there are no losers in this scenario.

  1. September 1, 2005 6:07 PM

    I thought I saw Alice the other day! Or maybe it was Justice Souter –skipping in Wonderland, immune to and above the laws he passes.

  2. September 1, 2005 8:14 PM

    Yes, such are the rewards of power and success.

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