Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Eminent Domain in Reverse

There's a Proposition on the November ballot in California deceptively called "Protect our Homes." Proposition 90 is supposed to be about eminent domain reform, prohibting the government from taking private property for other private use, in the name of economic benefit. That would be a good thing, as far as it goes. But Proposition 90 goes much farther. It contains a provision that would require compensation for any government regulation of land use, including such useful tools to protect the environment and protect neighboring homeowners as height limitations, zoning changes and even regulations on mining and other destructive activities.

Proposition 90 goes too far in the wrong direction. What we really need for the protection of our communities is Eminent Domain in Reverse. Now, local governments can take your property, the small business you earn a meager but satisfying living from or the bungalow that your grandfather worked and slaved at the factory to buy, and give it to big business for a new industrial mall or shopping center.

They say this is for the public good because it will create jobs and bring economic benefit into the area. Your neighborhood, which has now been declared blighted, like some slum full of rats and boarded up windows.

You are mad and rightly so. Your neighborhood isn't blighted. It's just lived in. Well, how about this? We start a movement in this country for Reverse Eminent Domain. We need courageous legislators to do this and a population "mad as hell" and not willing to take it any more.

Then we get the legislators to enact a law that allows us, We the People, to take the property of big busines and corporations and the McMansions their CEOs live in and give them to the working people and those who would be working if they could really get a job at that factory, which is all automated now, with customer service outsourced to Pakistan.

Reverse Eminent Domain would be about real public benefit to the real public. Not some nameless faceless corporate stooges.

But, wait, it sounds good, it sounds American, people standing up for what is rightfully theirs. People standing up to Government abuses.

But it sounds like something Homeland Security might find suspicious. It would be declared a terrorist plot, and denounced from pulpits and Fox news shows. Honest hard working Americans would be put into detention centers and called traitors and liberals.

They'd say the next thing we'd want would be socialized medicine and free lunches. And you know what? They might be right. Because once people are free of powerful corporate greed and corrupt governments, they can start making decisons for themselves and the good of their communities. What a concept!

So, think about it, Reverse Eminent Domain. It might be the wave of the progressive future.