Saturday, September 17, 2005
Reason Magazine On Kelo V New London
As the Post and the Times cheered on the government’s ability to break a few individual eggs in order to make a more perfect public-interest omelette, Kelo was prompting an ideologically diverse backlash against eminent domain abuse. The week after the decision, far-left California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters joined far-right Texas Republican Rep. Tom DeLay in supporting an amendment to an appropriations bill barring federal Community Block Grant funds for any locale that doesn’t prohibit eminent domain seizures for private development. It passed 231 to 189, and a similar bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate.Welch takes the NY Times to the woodshed in considerable detail, and concludes:
Alabama successfully prohibited such transfers in nonblighted areas on July 27 (joining eight other states with similar laws); Texas is trying to get a ban on the November ballot, and several other state legislatures are contemplating quick action in the wake of Kelo. Supporting these efforts is a politically broad variety of groups, from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to RightMarch.com. Outrage at Kelo united columnists Molly Ivins and George Will, fire breathers Rush Limbaugh and Ralph Nader.
Both Prospect-style liberals and the nation’s great newspapers have been falling off the ledge of popularity for some time now. If they don’t relearn the ability to locate outrage at individual cases of injustice, and cease subsuming them within the “bigger picture” of the struggle against evil Republicanism, it’s hard to imagine that trend being reversed.What we are seeing here is the precise opposite of traditional liberal thought. It used to support individual liberty, dignity and the right of self-determination. What this group of elitist thinkers have made of it is a doctrine supporting the idea that might makes right and that moneyed interests have the right to dominate the country. This is not your father's liberalism. It bears a suspicious resemblance to the thinking of the French aristocrats who lost their heads in the wake of the French Revolution.
Bastille Day, anyone?