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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

A plug for a fine campaigning institution

Some readers may have heard of the Institute for Justice, a U.S. organisation which fights the legal battles of property owners resisting the odious power of what is called eminent domain. Eminent domain powers, which were originally designed to give governments the ability to seize private property to build facilities for so-called “public use” like an airforce runway, prison or road, have also been used by said governments to build things like condos purely in order to boost tax revenues. It goes without saying that such a power is a powerful force of corruption, since a large property developer who wants to build a supermarket or whatever can get his political chums to use ED to kick small businessmen and homeowners out of their property. The politicians get lots of campaign contributions. The whole business stinks, and flagrantly abuses property rights. In any event, if the re-development of an area really made financial sense, that would be reflected in the increased prices of the houses and shops targeted for demolition, in which case the issue can be left to the market.

The Institute for Justice is, quite possibly, the most important libertarian organisation now in existence. I can also recommend the Free Space blog for regular updates on this issue and I also love the book, Defending the Undefendable, by Walter Block, on the same subject.

5 comments to A plug for a fine campaigning institution

  • toolkien

    Here’s an interesting twist. In Madison, WI a gentleman by the name of Jerry Frautschi donated $50 million (and eventually $205 million) to a private foundation to renovate/expand the “Art District” in downtown Madison (in the area surrounding the State capitol). Here is an article depicting the scene. Here was a private allocation supposedly, but ended up displacing existing businesses for this ‘advancement’. A horrible hybrid of private philanthropy and statist strongarming.

    A differing opinion here. It’s funny how a big businessman can throw his money around, put the government in his pocket, trounce the little guy, but if it is for Art the typical lefty howlers can’t keep the platitudes from rolling. I must say this episode was a component in my evolving from rank and file conservatism to libertarianism. People shouldn’t be pushed around for someone else’s vision, no matter how striking it is. There was very little support for the small businessmen in this story. It was the first example of how the government can steam roll where ever it likes, and all minorities and individuals are all equally likely to be singled out to bear the brunt of non-market, forceful allocations of resources by ‘our betters’.

  • John J. Coupal

    South of Madison, the city council of Lexington, Kentucky, is trying to use ED to gain control of the Kentucky-American Water Co. Its parent, American Water Works, sold its stock to RWE/Thames Water several years ago, with the name remaining Ky-Amer.

    Some brilliant members of city council feel that the city’s condemnation and takeover of the RWE/Thames property will provide healthy profits to fund lavish government spending programs on tap.

    Fortunately, last fall’s election brought to city council 3 new opponents of the takeover – now forming a majority – to replace 3 of the proponents. Developing.

  • You mean a new “group” to protect us?

    Like the NRA protected gun rights?


  • Johnathan

    Jomama, “aack” to you. The IJ organisation has gotten off its rear end to defend a host of cases, rather than just write and moan about it. They deserve rather more than a piece of snark.

  • John Smith

    I found Toolkien’s post (March 24, 2005 02:38 PM) on the recent goings-on at Madison, WI’s State Street of personal interest. Yes, I know, this was posted over a year ago, but it should really be no mystery as to how these “big businessmen” can wield such power and influence over these sorts of “advancements”, not just at State Street, but the world over. My personal interest in this matter stems from a rather unusual, and even surreal experience I went through in Madison, WI upon turning fifteen. It was the summer of 2000, and alot of these changes were being implemented throughout State Street when I had actually stumbled upon an underground city of such magnitude there, that only those few who knew about it from first-hand experience would believe me. And what few had already known of its existance, kept really quiet about it, for the two people who were known to have talked, died only days later in mysterious circumstances.
    No, I am not a conspiracy theorist, though I defy any intelligent individual to pay a visit to State Street sometime, and notice the markings and engravings upon the buildings there, particularly the Art District and the Capitol. Anyone at all educated in symbology will recognize these symbols as finger-posts to the “city” of which I speak. The bus stops along State Street are also a part of this intricate system of clues and hints, which only those previously “given” this language would be able to decipher.
    Or, take out a map of the downtown area of Madison, and focus especially on the capitol and it’s surrounding areas and courts. The center of the capitol, along with it’s four wings and courts, becomes two triangles connected at the base to form a square, though, when you view each triangle seperately, you see the symbol of the All-Seeing Eye. This marks the “top” of State Street, and from there, it branches out into an almost qabalistic journey down State Street, from one landmark and freemasonic symbol to another, until you reach the secret elevators which goes only downwards from the ground.
    To add to all this craziness, my family and I were followed and watched by mysterious suited men, all our vehicles were bugged, but we were met with no force or open intimidation from them, only occasional reminders of “we are watching you” kind of indicators.
    Anyway, it is of no doubt to me that these new “advancements” at State Street, and those power-people behind the decisions, had ulterior motives from the beginning. Again, I am not a conspiracy theorist, because I don’t believe that the Illuminati is a malign force – a force they are, but not necessarily malign. Of course, to the mind of a fifteen year old, perception is always skewed, and one can never know the whole truth.