Threatening Property Rights
September 4, 2006
In recent weeks I've written about the
threat of rising property taxes posed by state and local governments hungry
for more and more of your money; and the threat of widespread eminent domain
actions posed by a planned North American superhighway running straight
through Texas. It's clear that many political and business interests are
only too willing to drive people literally out of their homes to make way for
the grand schemes of those in power.
This is why every American needs to
understand that property rights are the foundation of a free society.
Without property rights, all citizens live subject to the whims of
government officials. When government can seize your property without
your consent, all of your other rights are negated. Our founders would
roll over in their graves if they knew that the takings clause in the Fifth
Amendment was being used to justify unholy alliances between private
developers and tax-hungry local governments.
one year removed from the notorious Kelo decision by the
Supreme Court, Americans are still reeling from the shock of having our
nation's highest tribunal endorse using government power to condemn private
homes to benefit a property developer. The silver lining, however, is
that many Americans have been stirred to action and are demanding new state
laws to prohibit the Kelo scenario from repeating itself in their cities.
The Kelo case demonstrates that local government can be as tyrannical as
centralized government. Decentralized power is always preferable, of
course, since it's easier to fight city hall than Congress. But
government power is ever and always dangerous, and must be zealously guarded
against. Most people in New London, Connecticut, like most people in
America, would rather not involve themselves in politics. The reality is
that politics involves itself with us whether we like it or not. We can
bury our heads in the sand and hope things don't get too bad, or we can fight
back when government treats us as its servant rather than its master.
Congress can and should act to prevent the federal government from seizing
private property. I've introduced and cosponsored several bills that
prohibit or severely limit the power of Washington agencies to seize private
property in locations around the nation. But the primary fight against
local eminent domain actions must take place at the local level. The
people of New London, Connecticut, like the people of Texas, could start
by removing from office local officials who have so little respect for