Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another Government Land Grab

Over the past few years, the government has broadly reinterpreted it’s abilities of Eminent Domain.  While traditionally, Eminent Domain was used to gather land for roads, schools, and other uses for public use, the government has extended that to mean that if a local government wants your land to give to someone else on the off chance that a different owner would provide more tax revenue, then it is legally able to do so.

It’s a horrid, and despicable action on the government’s part, and there have been too many instances of this collusion between government and private enterprises to steal land already.

Which makes me even more annoyed at the latest thing.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that our government is telling landowners that they have 1 week in which to sell the land to the U.S. Department of the Interior, or else they would take it via Eminent Domain.

The reason for this particular land-grab is that the government wants to take a bit over 2,200 acres of land up there in Pennsylvania and turn it into a memorial for Flight 93.

To put this into perspective, let’s consider some other numbers:

  • Disney Land sits on less than 300 acres
  • The 4 theme parks of Walt Disney World takes up less than 1,100 acres (Disney owns nearly 30,000 acres in Florida, of which 7,100 acres are truly developed)
  • Six Flags over Georgia takes up 230 acres
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay sits on 334 acres
  • The National Mall takes up 310 acres
  • Arlington National Cemetery is a bit over 600 acres

Now all of these theme parks and national icons have hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, and they don’t need 2,200 acres.

Heck, even Walt Disney purchased the 30,000 acres of swamp land and citrus groves where Disney World sits—despite the fact that the government knew about it coming to town. Back then federal, state and local governments did not conspire with private firms to force other private firms/individuals to sell their land.

The thing is that the park/memorial itself I have no qualms over.  It doesn’t bother me that they’re making it per se (though I do have questions on whether or not a new park is a good use of resources while we’re in the midst of a recession, and the government is borrowing nearly half of every dollar it spends).

What bothers me is the simple fact that they are forcing people to sell land that they own under threat of having it taken from them by force. Maybe these people don’t want to sell this land for sentimental or familial reasons. Maybe they don’t want to sell this land because they really like it, or want to hunt it. Maybe they don’t want to sell their land because  they want to develop its natural resources for profit (all this land holds decent amounts of lumber, natural gas and coal).

But the government doesn’t care. All it is concerned about is taking enough land from private citizens that it can build this memorial to this flight, and do so for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

What a way to honor those willing to die for their fellow citizens. What a way to honor the death of the only one of the 4 hijacked planes who had the gumption to fight back against hijackers armed only with box cutters.

I know that I’d hate to think that I was to be “honored” for the things that I’ve done in my life by having the government steal from others, or to force people to sell their property under duress of having it taken by Eminent Domain.


Blogger Hescominsoon said...

unfortunatly the kelso decision by the SCOTUS makes this "legal".

June 7, 2009 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Stephen Wrighton said...

I know, but as we both know, just because something is legal, does not mean that it's right.

June 7, 2009 at 9:20 PM  

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