Kelo Revisited

Way back in June of 2005, the US Supreme Court ruled that local and state governments could condemn private property for the transfer to other private parties using the supposed benefits of economic development as justification for the “taking.” The case was Kelo v. City of New London. At The Volokh Conspiracy, Professor Ilya Somin informs us that,

…two and one half years after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city and some seven years after the condemnation proceedings were first initiated, little or no economic development has occurred on the condemned land… the New London Development Corporation (the city agency responsible for the condemnations) and its designated private developer Corcoran Jennison have missed repeated deadlines to begin construction of the new housing that they were supposed to build in the area… (and) no construction at all has taken place on the site since the Supreme Court’s decision was issued in June 2005.
Yesterday, the NLDC and Corcoran reached an agreement under which the developer must meet a May 29, 2008 deadline to secure financing for the construction of 66 luxury apartments and 14 townhouses in the area. If it fails to do so, it will forfeit its right to develop the property and the NLDC will be free to pick a new firm to develop the area.

Two and a half years and nothing has been done? If the developer didn’t have the necessary financing for the project, and still doesn’t today, why did any of this take place? Ilya continues,

Even if Corcoran Jennison and the NLDC finally get their act together, it is unlikely that their project will produce enough economic development to offset the more than $80 million public funds that have already been spent on the project . And that estimate does not include the economic damage inflicted on New London by the destruction of the pre-condemnation uses of the property, including a significant number of homes and businesses. It also does not include the economic costs of letting the area lie unused for a period of several years while the NLDC and Corcoran tried to find a way to finance their planned development project.

Kelo was one of those rulings that was decided the wrong way, for all the right reasons. Government has no business being in business or competing with business. That’s the function of the private sector. Taking private property for public purposes, the “greater good” as those on the Left like to congratulate themselves, is bad enough. Doing so for the enhanced tax revenue of a more lucrative private development is quite simply wrong! And that includes the New York Times’ new glass and steel monstrosity, too!
Without private property, there is no freedom and there is no democracy.

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