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Jan 13, 2006 11:18 am


More Corporate-State Land Theft



Norwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, is the scene of another corporate-state land grab, majestically called"eminent domain." (Think about what that phrase implies.) Here's the news story. The city has condemned 60 middle-class homes and businesses so that the properties can be conveyed to developer Jeffery Anderson and partners for expansion of a swanky shopping center and apartments. The new shopping-center wing would feature a Crate and Barrel store. (You can complain to the chain here.) Two homeowners refuse to bow to the state and have gone into court, with the help of the Institute for Justice. The case is now before the Ohio Supreme Court. During oral argument Wednesday, a member of the court asked an attorney for the town why the local government should have the power to brand properties"blighted" and to take them against the will of the owners."In the end, it is up to the City Council to make that decision because they know the community best," said the attorney. Such arrogance from political hacks.

This is really getting out of hand. Big retailers (Wal-Mart, Costco, and others) should be ashamed of themselves for seeking to build stores on stolen property. It's time that we make them aware that we know what they are doing. No one without political connections is safe. The U.S. Supreme Court said last summer that taking private property in order to turn it over to developers is constitutional. Score another one for Spooner. At least the Supreme Court ruling prompted people to put the heat on politicians in some states. As a result, it might be slightly tougher for governments to seize land for so-called economic development. But in most cases, they can get their way by declaring a property"blighted." It's a virtual blank check. We'll be safe only when people realize that eminent domain strikes at the heart of liberty.

Laissez-faire voluntarists have long maintained that that the difference between being pro-market and pro-business is vast. Business was never enthusiastic for open competition, preferring the safety of protectionism in all its many forms -- consumers and workers be damned. We're at the point where being pro-market requires being anti-business.

Cross-posted at Free Association.

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