60 Minutes is known for its hard-hitting investigative journalism. Sometimes it seems to hit harder at business than at government, but recently we’ve seen an exception to that. Mike Wallace talked to businessmen and homeowners under attack for the crime of well, owning property, I guess.
Governments around the country are trying to kick people off their property to make way for others to use the land instead. Simply because these other owners might offer a higher tax base. Their weapon is the concept of eminent domain, which says government can take over your land if it’s for public use and you’re fairly compensated. But the takings Mike Wallace reported on show how this concept is being abused. The process is corrupt on its face. One politician bluntly admitted that his government calls “blighted” any property that they want to take over, whether it’s really blighted or not.
An Ace Hardware owner claimed with a straight face that he was trying to kick out a competitor from his property merely for the common good of the city. Seems that when government acts as their go-between, some people can con themselves into believing that even the worst actions are morally acceptable.
Property owners are fighting back, though, with the help of the libertarian public interest law firm Institute for Justice, which has won some important eminent-domain cases. And in one besieged town, Lakewood, OH, residents opposed to being pushed off their land have gathered enough signatures to post a ballot initiative this November. Good for them, and good luck to them.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.