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June 24, 2005
A Suggested Site For New York's Football Stadium

Michael Bloomberg need look no further than a site for New York's controversial new football stadium than the offices of the New York Times, or perhaps the home of its publisher, Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger. In today's editorial, the Paper of Record cheers the Supreme Court decision in the Kelo case yesterday and its attack on property rights:

The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday that the economically troubled city of New London, Conn., can use its power of eminent domain to spur development was a welcome vindication of cities' ability to act in the public interest. It also is a setback to the "property rights" movement, which is trying to block government from imposing reasonable zoning and environmental regulations. ...

In a blistering dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor lamented that the decision meant that the government could transfer any private property from the owner to another person with more political influence "so long as it might be upgraded." That is a serious concern, but her fears are exaggerated. The majority strongly suggested that eminent domain should be part of a comprehensive plan, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing separately, underscored that its goal cannot simply be to help a developer or other private party become richer.

I suppose I should not be surprised that the New York Times argues that the ends justify the means, but the fact that they so baldly buy into this shows just how badly they've slid into the statist mindset. What they endorse is the notion that people must live in their homes at the whim of city governments, who only have to justify their seizure by creating a plan that asserts that another private developer will put their land to better use than the homeowner.

The Times laughably argues that even though government acting as an unwanted arbiter between two private property owners is a serious concern, the fears that a government will choose the one with deeper pockets is "exaggerated". Oh, yeah, sure. In fact, that's exactly what happened with New London. No one argued that the houses being condemned were "blighted"; the neighborhood was working class but maintained well. Some of the people arguing their case had, in fact, recently put a lot of money into renovations, money that they now will never see. Most had lived in the neighborhood for decades, and one house had remained in the same family for over 100 years, with the current resident having lived there for 60 of them. New London decided that the waterfront view had more value as commercial property than for the people who actually owned it, and sold out for a few extra tax dollars.

Of course, the New York Times has new land for its new offices through eminent domain, so they're happy with this ruling. I'd say that if Bloomberg wanted to take back that land for something that would generate more jobs and revenue than the New York Times -- perhaps that football stadium, or a mall, or even a real newspaper -- the editorial position would suddenly change to rail against the arbitrary seizure of property and the damage it does to the community and the economy.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 24, 2005 5:34 AM

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» GOD BLESS OUR (BANANA) REPUBLIC from Right Wing Nut House
It’s no secret that one of the banes of modern society for the left is private property. Why, the very concept of “private” property screams of inequality. Some people got it. Some don’t. Ergo, in order to level out society pr... [Read More]

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» Invitation To Corruption from Mark in Mexico
I live in Mexico. Here, the right of Eminent Domain, for the public good, of course, follow closely the ideal as envisioned by the Supreme Court and the New York Times. [Read More]

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» "Capitalism Is the New Communism" from The Q Speaks
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