In 2005, Kelo v. City of New London made eminent domain infamous. The widely reviled Supreme Court ruling gave the go ahead for the city of New London to use eminent domain for taking private property in order that it be given to a private company for “economic development.”
The public response was one of outrage. Facing the potential wrath of voters, politicians across the country moved to add new protections against such abusive seizures. But that wasn’t enough to save the homes of the folks in New London, whose property never would be developed. Pfizer, the intended beneficiary of the land theft, walked away years ago from their development plans.
Now, to add new insult to injury, the vacant lot is a dump. Literally.
Following hurricane Irene, the city designated the site as a place to dump storm debris, and citizens can be seen doing just that in this video on the local paper’s website.
Doesn’t that make you feel all warm inside? The Supreme Court reassured us in Kelo that the government orchestrated theft “would be executed pursuant to a “carefully considered” development plan.” What they forgot to mention is that careful consideration from politicians is worth about as much as the city’s new debris dump, which is to say: diddly squat.
The fact of the matter is that the development of the property was already being “carefully considered” by the folks that owned it, as is the case for all privately held property, and in their careful consideration they wanted to keep living on it. The lesson of Kelo is not merely on the illusory nature of our property rights. It’s also about the abject failure that is central planning, and the inability of political forces to better plan economic activity than the private sector.