Friday, June 24, 2005

Supreme Court's Eminent Domain Ruling Is Naive

I was shocked by the eminent domain ruling handed down by the Supreme Court that okayed the taking of a number of private residences in New London, Connecticut, so that the city could allow a hotel complex and business center to be built. The reason given was that it was in the "public interest" to do so, citing tax benefits and jobs.

My mind searched for a number of words to describe how I felt; I toyed with "fascist," the practice of handing so much authority over to corporate business interests that in effect the government and business are undistinguishable from each other, and supercede individual rights in favor of powerful corporations.

I settled on "naive." I believe that these liberal judges (I'm somewhat of a liberal myself) honestly believe that government and business and the citizenry can get together and honestly, fairly work out a solution to the benefit of all.

That's naive. Corporations can be greedy and self-interested; government officials can be short-sighted, ignorant of the law, punitive, and downright crooked; and the citizenry often have few resources and little knowledge about how to go up against a juggernaut like a major corporate entity or government bureaucracy. Private citizens, with the least power in this uncomfortable triad, are going to be the big loser because of this ruling.

Over 10,000 properties across the country have been taken by eminent domain in recent years by municipalities who then handed the property over to private interests. This isn't just a once in a while occurrence; it's happening everywhere, it's happening often, and it's putting more and more power in the hands of major corporations while putting at risk the very core of our concept of private ownership in this country.

Liberals, beware. You need to come down on the right side of this issue, fast; otherwise, the conservative Republican majority will use this issue against the Democrats big time in 2006 and 2008, and the liberal judges in the Supreme Court will have succeeded in giving this country a good hard shove to the right.