Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Non-Objective Law and the Malignant Nature of Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is another example of the malignant nature of non-objective law. How do you fight against private property seizure when “public use or public purpose” is the justification? Based on those rationalizations, how do you stop the expansion of eminent domain into wider and wider applications? What, exactly, are you fighting against?

I’ve written about my New Jersey hometown of Readington Township’s ongoing fight to seize a large swath of Solberg Airport land—not for “public use," as with a highway, or for a “public purpose," such as turning one private landowners’ property over to another’s to develop so as to generate tax revenues for the town—but to preserve as “open space,” which wouldn’t be used or generate any revenues for “the public”. So far, Readington has been rebuffed by the courts. The courts apparently don’t see “preserving” land from development as a valid application of eminent domain, which would appear to be another expansion of eminent domain's reach.

But, by the nature of eminent domain, there’s no logical limit to its potential. To illustrate the point, let’s revisit an issue I’ve written about before—the seizing of mortgages through eminent domain. It involves Newark, NJ and other cities that

want to expand their use of eminent domain to seize mortgages in order to pressure lenders to the “negotiating table” and thus “help” homeowners with underwater mortgages receive a reduction in principal.

Newark has since elected a new mayor, who is plowing ahead with the mortgage extortion.

I left these comments on the related article:

This proposed expansion of eminent domain shows why the government’s power of eminent domain should be completely expunged. It is tyranny, and tyranny, as history has shown, begets tyranny.

In this case, the eminent domain threat to property rights will, if sanctioned by the courts, extend the threat beyond property. As I noted in my 2013 article for the Objective Standard:

The proposed use of eminent domain to seize mortgages is an attack on the sanctity of contracts, a bedrock of rule of law and economic freedom. Whatever the legal outcome, this latest effort to expand its use highlights the open-ended danger of eminent domain and the need to end the rights-violating practice as such.

Eminent domain contradicts every fundamental principle of America, and the Founders should never have allowed it into the constitution. The Founders couldn't have imagined how it would be abused. The malignant nature of eminent domain is now obvious. We need a constitutional amendment to modify the Fifth Amendment “takings clause” to eliminate the phrase “without just compensation” so the clause reads simply, “nor shall private property be taken for public use.” No amount of compensation justifies the forcible seizure of private property against the owner’s will.

Experts recognize that applying eminent domain to mortgages is a long shot. But, on what grounds? Proponents claim that burdensome mortgages lead to property abandonment, which leads to lower home values, blight, and ultimately to lower tax revenues for the municipality. Does anyone doubt that someone, someday, could manufacture a “public purpose” out of that?

So, the next great expansion of eminent domain could extend beyond property, to contracts, a crucial foundational building block of the market economy.

1 comment:

Mike Kevitt said...

After nearly 50 yrs., from age 22, I'm about tired of flap-jawing about all this stuff. But I can't resist responding to your 1st. paragraph, here.

What are we fighting against? We're fighting against initiated brute physical force, thus crime by criminals. You fight that by effective responsive physical force, and you use gvt. for that as much as possible.

If crime is intertwined with gvt., you must weed the two from each other and use gvt. to fight crime, as much as possible. Beyond that, you must fight on your own.

But we're fighting the physical reality of crime. We have, therefore, the moral sanction. So we can use the physical power of gvt. against the infesting, infecting and displacement of gvt. & law done under cover of the guise of it.

Who cares if the criminal looks like a respectable, law abiding citizen, maybe a politician or a cop, a nat'l. guardsman or a soldier on regular active duty? I DON'T.

We got the law & gvt. We must seize it by whatever means needed. Then we must cut a few pieces of flab out of the Founding Documents and fill in the blanks they left, so we can flap the legal sanction in writing in the faces of anybody, then do it, and move on.

We got the total philosophical sanction, except for the physical means. We must get the physical means, by all practicality, then do it, then keep it. We must keep it, forever, by FORCE. The force will always be responsive to any potential initiation. That's the moral.