Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A very good op-ed at the Times

I had to read it a few times to make sure of what he was saying. Wow. Who would have thought a New York Times columnist would criticize the modern perversion of eminent domain by invoking property rights?

John Tierney's column is sensible and practical. He points to his hometown, Pittsburgh, a great empirical example of government's best intentions gone awry: today, the empty spaces are where the government destroyed homes so it could build new, "better" buildings. The thriving areas are those untouched by government's "urban renewal" designs. Tierney even mentions a department store built with $50 million in public funds, which "has shut down and left a vacant building."
Yet the mayor still yearns for more acquisitions. He welcomed the Supreme Court decision, telling The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that eminent domain "is a great equalizer when you're having a conversation with people." Well, that's one way to describe the power to take people's property. [emphasis added]
Mike Bloomberg, do you still claim your West Side Stadium was a can't-fail deal for New Yorkers? If it really were such a good investment, why weren't private backers already funding it?

The battle over perverted "eminent domain" reminds me of the "Star Trek: Insurrection" scene where Admiral Dougherty justified the forced relocation of the Ba'ku.

Picard protested, "How can there be an order to abandon the Prime Directive?" Yes, and how can the Supreme Court justify an order that abandons the Constitution, and in fact the homeowners' very right to property? Dougherty replied that the Ba'ku aren't even indigenous to the planet -- just like one argument that some of the New London residents haven't even been there that long, anyway.

Picard rightfully exploded, "Who the hell are we to determine the next course of evolution for these people?" Dougherty made it a matter of mathematics: "Jean-Luc, there are 600 people down there. We'll be able to use the regenerative properties of this radiation to help billions."

After over-optimistically bragging that the Federation can handle the Son'a, Dougherty asked, thinking it was rhetorical, "Besides, they don't want to live in the middle of the Briar Patch. Who would?"

"The Ba'ku?" came Picard's unexpected rejoinder. Yes, just who would want to live in the "urban blight" of New London, Connecticut? Obviously those who continued to live there, whether their families had owned the homes for several decades or only a few years.


Blogger TKC said...

We had one of thes government inspired boondoggles locally. It was called Rockville Mall. It didn't have anything to do with eminent domain as I believe the city paid for the vacant lot to build a mall on. The idea was to set up a prosperous town center.

I didn't work.

The mall never turned a penny in profit while it ate up tax revenue at an ever increasing pace. Eventually it was abandoned and then after being an eyesore for a few years it was razed. A parking garage was put up in its place.

Meanwhile, about 10 miles up the road, a private developer built Lake Forest Mall which has been a big hit since day one.

The lesson: The government should get out of the business of doing business. They are not inclined to be successful at it because they generally are not accountable for the tax dollars they spend. At least not in the same way a private business is. When spending other people's money it is easy to not be concerned with the outcome. When you're spending your own money, the result is almost always closely watched for desirable results.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

You hit it right on the head. Are you familiar with how Milton Friedman phrased it?

There's so much empirical data against profitable government ventures that we should be amazed when one happens.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger TKC said...

About Friedman. Are you talking about how you spend other people's money. If so, I pretty sure I am paraphrasing Friedman. I forget exactly how it went. But you pointed it before on the topic of the lady using the 9/11 compensation fund to go on a spending spree.

It reminds me of a movie. Well, sorta. I think it was an Eddie Murphy movie where he had to spend millions of dollars in a short amount of time in order to keep millions more. So he went on a wild spending spree regardless of the consequences. Why were there not any consequences? Because it wasn't his money. It didn't matter one lick how he spent it. Now if he had spent the last 20 years working for a million dollars I'd bet an ice cold lager he would have been very careful about how he spent it.

It is the same point and I'm pretty sure I got it from Friedman. When you spend other peoples money then you're not really concerned with the out come. When you spend your own money then you keep a hawk's eye on the outcome. Generally, that money didn't come to you easily.

btw... That single like should be, "It didn't work." Not, "I didn't work." The only thing not working is my proofreading skills.... as usual. {groan} What a way to botch a point.

Okay, Googled the quote.

There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.

Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.

Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!

Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005 12:25:00 PM  

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