Kelo – the day after
Some reflections, reactions and fall out.
I went home last night, finished off a bottle of Scotch and had a few beers. I sat in my backyard on my comfortable 0.6 acres in the country, looked at my fence (which is only symbolic at this point), looked at Junior’s play-set, looked at the 12 neighbors’ houses I could see from the backyard, and watched my little girl play in her kiddie pool. And it occurred to me that all mine is only all mine until some bureaucrat decides he wants it for any reason whatsoever. Same for those neighbors. I’ve long held that we don’t actually own property any way, we just have an indefinite lease from the state in the form of property taxes. Now, even that lease agreement is null and void.
Also, taxes used to fund things for public use. Now public use is going to fund taxes. There are many municipalities who were waiting on this ruling. They just got the go ahead from the highest level to take whatever they want for whatever reason they want. (You can peruse many of these cases here).
Now, to address some comments made around the blogs and that I got by email on my emotional state as, just to use one example, impassioned if not analytical:
I’ve been covering Kelo for almost a year. I’ve dedicated a lot pixels and some money to the cause. I’ve also been covering eminent domain for quite a while. I had a lot invested in this subject emotionally and am not some Johnnie come lately on the issue. And I’m angry but mostly sad. It takes a real man to weep for his nation.
Also, to my gunblogger buddies who are stating it’s time to hoist the black flag, quoting Jefferson, and calling for revolution: Put up or shut up. Unless you’re on your way to Connecticut right now, the rhetoric will do more harm than good. Actually, being on your way to Connecticut will probably do more harm than good. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate or understand the sentiment, but the fact is that it’s not going to happen and if it did happen, it wouldn’t work. People will shake their heads, nay-say, and bitch but nothing will be done when the bulldozers level Suzette Kelo’s home. People won’t even defend their dogs when the state comes to take them by force. Sure, I made a half-hearted comment about sending guns to Connecticut but its pointless because I can’t send them balls.
Folks can entertain these fantasies of a group of freedom fighters engaging the bureaucratic machine but you will lose. You will die or be imprisoned. Period. The cause needs you to be alive and
free not in jail. The fight isn’t over, it just got local. We need to press local and state officials to pass laws that restrict eminent domain. That’s the way you win this one. And it will be a long haul that will probably take decades. Some bills have already received support of legislators, like this one. Note to The Rep: It’s public use not public good.
This notion kicked around that we need another Constitutional amendment to limit governments’ abilities to seize property is kind of a waste. We had that in the fifth amendment. Fat lot of good it did.
Unfucking the Supreme Court needs to be everyone’s priority. And, since everyone else is politicizing this decision, it’s my turn. The more conservative justices voted correctly on this case (as they did on Raich). Hats off to them. The liberal and supposed moderates shredded the constitution. Consider this my official withdrawal from the Coalition of the Chillin’. No, the world didn’t end on May 23, 2005 but exactly one month later property rights did. The US needs judges who follow the Constitution, not judges who act like it’s a minor inconvenience. We have a lot to do to fix this and this isn’t the time to be fucking around.
Update: On further reflection, it appears to be generally a bad policy to challenge any law with which we libertarianish folks disagree, even though we are right. We keep getting shot down when we take it all the way to the highest court in the land. Act locally.
Update 2: Dear Lord, do we really need to fear challenging the law of the land. Quite depressing.