The Force of Government

George Washington is attributed as saying,

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

We should always heed these words and take them to heart. The basis of ALL Human Freedoms is the freedom and ability to own property and do with it as you please. Be it ourselves, the fruits of our labors, the land we work, the things we own, the government should not have the ability to lightly confiscate or demand unfettered access to private property through Eminent Domain.

Shortly after I arrived in Memphis, land developers on the Shelby County Commission managed to Eminent Domain several hundred acres of undeveloped land in East Shelby County. I don't remember why Eminent Domain was used, likely because the owner and the prospective develops couldn't come to an agreeable price. This confiscated land (because the "fair compensation" the owners would have received would have been based on its' current state of wooded and undeveloped land, not what it was worth to others) was then turned over/sold to developers who proceeded to level the land and put up over 2.5 million square feet of mall and retail space. The developers make money because of the retail going on, the government makes money due to taxes, the original owner was screwed. This was a crap move, no doubt about it.

I found the video below from a Dallas City Council meeting from May 2017 and posted on YouTube a few days ago. The point being discussed is the city has been trying for years to Eminent Domain at least part of a Citizen's land for the purpose of laying a water pipe through his property. Near the end of the video, a Council member describes it as, "We were not taking any property, we were laying pipe and putting the ground back in place."

The bad news about "we were laying pipe and putting the ground back in place" is that that point the land becomes an unusable right-of-way. The Citizen cannot put a building, pond, pool or whatever on or near that pipe because if there was a failure of the pipe, 1) the building/whatever would be damaged by the flooding and 2) the City would have to dig up the pipe to repair it and destroy anything over or near it to get to the pipe. I don't see that as the ability for the Citizen to do what he wants with his property.

This Citizen luckily had the financial resources to fight off the city use of his land and the Dallas City Attorney is absolutely pissed off about it because the Citizen has successfully defended their land and the City will build around and not through his land. After she is done speaking, she actually swats away the microphone she was speaking into.

Here's a few quotes any landowner should find appalling and terrifying. The number in brackets is the timestamp:

[1:17] "Now, other, ordinary people, regular people, like you and I who can't afford to fight the City of Dallas over an Eminent Domain case for years and years, I mean, we wind up getting our property taken." [emphasis mine]

What pisses me off is her nonchalance about people getting their property taken "for the common good." She is totally okay with taking land from people who don't want to sell or grant the City access to it.

[1:47] "But it's just infuriating that if you are rich enough you can hold the city hostage for years and then get what you want. There's something really wrong with that."

The only thing being held hostage was your arrogance and hubris. If the city would have built around this Citizen's property when he said "no" the first time it would have those saved millions of dollars spent on legal fees.

[2:01] "While I so want to vote no on this [against settling and building around the property] Neither do I want to continue to spend more money fighting with this guy because in the end, we're settling 'cause he'll probably win. But it is just infuriating, we have people come down here saying, 'Please don't take my property" and because they're just an ordinary person we take their property. But this guy is rich enough to fight us for years and so he is going to win. And it's just so maddening." [emphasis mine]

This is not the attitude someone in public service should have. The Citizens who she is stealing from pay the taxes that end up as her paycheck. But then again, being an unelected bureaucrat and a "Philosopher King" the wants and needs of ordinary citizens are always trumped by the "common good." This is the attitude of an all-controlling and (scare quotes here) "benevolent" government. Do you really want to surrender your Rights to it?

 Watch it and weep, ladies and gentlemen. This is not a government "of the People, by the People and for the People."

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