Kelo

Most people want a security from uncertainty. They want a refuge. They want to be able to survive independant of others. This security is one reason why property ownership is held dear. When someone can take your property from you, your security is diminished. This happened to Susette Kelo as described in Your castle no more (Edward Hudgins, Washington Times 05jn27).

In this case the city council of New London, Conn., decided to condemn and take the homes and businesses of a number of citizens, including the Derys and Susette Kelo, who filed the case, in the name of economic development.

Now the Supreme Court has undermined fundamental private property rights by ruling, in effect, that governments can pretty much seize property for any reason they see fit.

Thus we have a situation in which, unlike under socialism, individuals can still hold title to their own property. But unlike a free-market system, they do not own their property by right. They hold it at the discretion of political authorities who can yank it away at a whim. This is the economic principle of the classical corporatist or fascist regime.

The response has been at the state level where several legislatures have undertaken to limit this court given right to usurp personal property. But the Kelo case is not the only one worthy of concern. The Ten Commandments decision is also a property rights issue in deciding when and where a person or community can post something that might be inferred to be religious. Another recent decision about file sharing services hits property rights as well.

The line to be drawn is the intrusion of the society (government) in the affairs of others. How should property be defined? How should it be protected? When does the government intervene to promote its own affairs? When does it intervene to protect the property of its citizens? You’d think this would be an easy line to draw. The recent SCOTUS decision reminds us all of the history of feudalism, Markism, socialism, and communism and the fact that respect for property rights of the individual are hard won and hard kept.

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