Bang goes the right to own your own house.

In another blow to American's rights and freedoms, the U.S Supreme Court today issued a ruling that all but destroys private property rights in this country. The right of eminent domain was overturned.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S Constitution specifically restricts the government's right of eminent domain. In fact (flicking through the history books) the right of eminent domain was assumed as a basic part of English Common Law. The Fifth Amendment merely said that government could not exercise this right for a public use without paying for it. The exact working is "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." As was supposed to be the case with the Bill Of Rights, it protected the private citizen's right to own property. Well that's all changed.

For hundreds of years the term "public use" was interpreted to mean use for something like a school, library, police or fire station, power transmission lines, roads, bridges or some other facility owned and operated by government for the benefit of the general population. As politicians became more and more impressed with their own power they started to expand this definition of public use.

The new theory is that increasing the property taxes paid on a parcel of property is a public use. Increasing the number of people who can be employed by a business located on a particular piece of property can also be a public use. This would mean that government would be free to seize private property if it can be handed to a developer who will redevelop the property so as to increase the property taxes paid or the number of people employed. For example, tearing down your one house with a nice garden, and putting a four-plex in to get four times as much tax.
As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said in her dissent, this decision renders virtually all private property vulnerable to government confiscation.

Bottom line: If you own property, and the government wants that property, you're screwed. You now own your private property only at the pleasure of government; and that means that you own your property, be it your home, your business or a piece of investment real estate only at the pleasure of the local controlling politicians.

Considering this ruling, how likely are you to invest in real estate now? If you saw a tract of land that was placed squarely in the path of growth, would you buy that property in hopes that you could later sell it for a substantial profit? I wouldn't. Not now. Because the developer wanting that property would simply tell me that if I didn't accept his ludicrously low offer price, he would simply go to the local government and start the eminent domain process. Correspondingly, this ruling also means that every piece of raw land out there has decreased in value. The threat of eminent domain for private economic development has severely damaged in most cases, and destroyed in many others, the American dream of investing in real estate.

Well done boys. We're edging ever closer to being able to just tear up the Bill of Rights and use it for toilet paper, because under B*sh and his Nazi-like government, rights are being stripped away faster than the American economy is going down the toilet. People seem to have forgotten that it's the Bill of Rights, not the Bill of Don'ts. The truly scary thing is that nobody seems to have noticed.

Of course this is nothing like what happened in Germany in the 1930's. Nothing at all......


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