Friday, June 24, 2005

Taking their Homes

I usually try to stay away from politics, but this is really eating away at me this morning.

I've always been impressed with those that hold out--that little house that's been in the family for years, now surrounded by huge buildings and/or mansions. Ownership, having land and a home that you worked hard to get and/or keep, means a lot to me. My grandmother left her old-country ways to live the American Dream. She worked in factories so that she could earn enough money to buy some land. She, along with her husband and newborn son, lived in a chicken coop on that land until they could get the money together and build a real house. Have you ever seen a chicken coop!? I fear that someday in the future my parents could have their 80-acres seized, the same land my grandmother purchased so many years ago. They are sitting on prime-building land and natural gas wells and coal deposits for which they have the mineral rights. They've recently been approached with offers; I feel it blowing in the wind in a "Something Wicked This Way Comes" fashion.

Do we really need more shopping malls and hotels? On the news this morning, they interviewed a woman whose property had been seized so that luxury townhomes could be built on her land. To me, that is not what our founding fathers meant by "public use". Ownership is the American Dream, but apparently not an American right.

At least not everyone is blinded by the potential for abuse: "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

4 Comments:

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Murky Thoughts said...

Intellectually and in the abstract I sympathetic to the ruling. We're not talking about the death penalty, but about displacing people, and in principle we can set up laws for compensation that might make the loser of the homestead feel in some respects like she just won the lottery. Against their sentiments and right to continue whatever they were doing, I think it's reasonable to weigh the economic prosperity of the community and the sentiments that go with that. And it seems like some branch of our (in principle) democratic government is a liable to be a reasonable body to do the weighing. Otherwise, you get gold-rush-style claims staking and no city planning. Our resources aren't limitless, so planning might just be essential to ensure everybody eats. This society only barely accomplishes that as it is.

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

I think what you just said exemplifies the good intentions and valid goals of the ruling; I'm just sure that those intentions and goals are attainable.

Building luxury townhomes in an area needing affordable housing is not what the community needs. It's putting money into the pockets of the people making the decisions so, of course, what decisions do you think those people are going to make? For the public good and the public's economic prosperity is a bullshit excuse. I'm not saying that this law will not allow for economic growth--of course it will and those aspects of the ruling I can appreciate. What I am saying is that currently, the oversight needed to prevent abuse of this ruling is not there, and if's not there at the inception, it will be difficult to add it in later on.

The compensation offered for one's property often seems like a lot of money, but is it really? To find that the money you received (by force) for your 4-bedroom home will only get you a 1-bedroom condo in the area where you live and work, is hardly an equal and fair trade and most definitely is not like hitting the lottery.

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Murky Thoughts said...

As with all kinds of idealistic rulings one might just say well, sure, the governmental system that's in place to administer our new idealistic ruling now is so corrupt and inept that grief is the certain result, but that's only because the electorate historically has had much less reason to take an interest in this aspect of government, and what with this new change the people will take an interest and through reelections and a new conscientiousness among the newly scrutinized officials the government will get its act together and administer the ideal just as we wish. And isn't that exactly what we want, for people to take an interest in their representatives? "Build it and they will come!" I know, it's hogwash.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

If there is ever a 7-11 where my childhood pond now resides, I'm going to lead a coup. A Target may be OK, but never a 7-11. Maybe people will take an interest and things will change...we'll see.

 

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