Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Thursday, November 02, 2006

State Question 2

The second item on the ballot reads as follows:

"Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended in order: to provide that the transfer of property from one private party to another private party is not considered a public use; to provide that property taken for a public use must be valued at its highest and best use; to provide that fair market value in eminent domain proceedings be defined as the 'highest price the property would bring on the open market,' and to make certain other changes related to eminent domain proceedings?"

I'm voting yes.

This Question is a reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London, and a similar Nevada case called Pappas. Incidentally, Nancy Becker wrote the majority opinion in Pappas, and it's another reason she's about to lose her job. Kelo and Pappas supported the government's power to take property from a private land-owner and sell it to a private party. That's the kind of behavior I've come to expect from Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. It's not something I want my own government doing.

The Question is not perfect. For example, the portion where "fair market value" is defined is vague, and I can see a government-friendly Court twisting it all over the place. I don't know what the "certain other changes" are, either. Frankly, I don't care. Kelo and Pappas are so eggregiously offensive that I'm willing to let the pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction, as long as it sends the appropriate message: "we don't elect you blood-sucking douchebags so you can steal our stuff!" Yes, I like that message just fine.

Opponents of the measure whine that it will prevent the building of roads and other essential public works. Bullcrap. No government ever seizes land to widen an interstate and then sell that portion of the interstate to a private party. Who would buy it? Second, if you can't afford to buy the property, that doesn't make it okay to steal it. Third, just because you can't build a road in one place doesn't mean you can't build it in another place. Fourth, the government and I have very different ideas of what consitutes an "essential" public work. For example, I don't think building an artificial rainforest in Nebraska with federal tax revenues is "essential." I don't think it's necessary to build a bridge to an island in Alaska with a population of less that one hundred.

That's all I have to say. If you really need me to lecture you on why it's a bad idea to let the government steal you stuff, then you need a more help than I can give you. One final thought: the only people I've seen opposing the question are mayors and other elected officials. Yeah, I can see why they wouldn't want the voters to restrict their power to steal stuff. Tough cookies, chumps.