Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

19 March 2011

Third-World Property Rights in California

California is well-known for its high taxes, high deficits, never-ending regulations, its coddled government employees, its poor schools despite spending twice the national average per student, its building restrictions and high property costs, its high level of domestic out-migration to other states, and its third-world property rights.  California is one of the states that still allows governments to seize private property for private use virtually without restriction.  National outrage following the Supreme Court decision to allow New London, Connecticut to seize the Kelo home and neighborhood for proposed private use brought reforms in many states and local governments to reign in such abuse of property rights recognized in our Constitution.  The land seized from its rightful owners in the Kelo case is now a vacant wasteland.  Similar vacant wastelands have resulted in troubled California owing to similar eminent domain abuse of private property for private, connected company gain.

Third-world property rights are one of the worst impediments to economic growth and the standard of living in third-world countries.  California, with all its woes, has opted for property rights uncertainty to replicate those destructive effects upon ownership and investment right here in our most populated state.  Tim Cavanaugh gave some examples at reason.com:
But the acres of south Los Angeles wasteland generated by the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA), the state’s largest and wealthiest RDA, are a grim testament to failure. The agency’s Normandie 5 Redevelopment Project has generated zero development. Its 107-acre Watts Project area, which has been in effect since 1968, boasts nothing but a Food 4 Less that hardly required government help to come into being. The massive $163 million Marlton Square project has stagnated, unbuilt, for nearly 20 years as a shady developer with friends in City Hall looted taxpayer funds. The two-block project area at the corner of Vermont and Manchester Avenues is a vacant lot. So is the long-fallow Central/Slauson project, where the CRA used eminent domain to shut down a metal works that was the only functioning business in the area.
 He also notes that the people attracted to such government property seizure schemes are not the best people:
Maybe the most important factor is the tendency of public-private partnerships to attract the worst elements of society: union goons, neighborhood activists, reverends, public-trough developers, political appointees, city planners, and so on. The Marlton Square project came close to breaking ground in 1999 under the legendary Lakers point guard and successful developer Magic Johnson—until itinerant local politician Mark Ridley-Thomas forced Magic out and turned the project over to a developer with a history of bouncing checks and cheating on his taxes, who went on to make millions of city dollars vanish before going bankrupt.
One of the more notable characteristics of these ignoble schemes is that they usually victimize the poor or the lower middle class for the comfort and profit of unscrupulous well-off people with good connections to government.  Fortunately, these would-be victims have a resolute champion in the Institute for Justice, which is making a point of becoming a nemesis for such low-life dispossession in the rascal-ridden state of California.  An example of the work the Institute for Justice does is its defense of a community youth athletic center against the out-of-control use of eminent domain by National City near San Diego.  A cavalier declaration of blight has been issued to 700 properties so that the city can exercise eminent domain over any of the properties over the next ten-year period.  The property owners must successfully fight off the blight rulings within a limited time to save their property from some potential exercise of the eminent domain claim in later years.  This means considerable expense and effort to prevent the loss of their property which may or may not happen.  This arrangement is a most cunning way to cause many property owners to fail to get the blight ruling overturned, especially when they are people of limited financial resources.  This is a plague upon the unwealthy for the future benefit of unscrupulous wealthy developers.

The Institute for Justice and some brave would-be victims have something to say about that however:



You can read more about this worthy case here.  Please consider becoming a supporter of the Institute for Justice while you are there.

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