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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

What’s All This About Property Rights?

In the barrage of response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision about eminent domain, I’ve been seeing and hearing lots of discussion about the rights of ownership of real property (i. e., land).

The decision, in a nutshell, expands Government eminent domain rights to seize land when a Governmental unit believes the land can be put to an alternative use that somehow better serves the public. Some legal scholars believe this will allow local Governments to take (with compensation) privately owned lands to build a shopping mall or a Wal-Mart, if the improvement will generate more local sales tax revenue.

What I have found most interesting about peoples’ response to this decision is the underlying beliefs about property rights that are revealed. One individual who often writes “crank” letters to the Sacramento Bee complains that the Government’s right to condemn property for property tax non-payment is against “God’s intent”. It seems a lot of people believe that once an individual purchases real estate, the property should remain with individual’s heirs for eternity. Isn’t that the paradigm of European feudalism? I guess what I view as just lies somewhere between the Supremes’ decision and feudalism.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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