Freedomwriter.com Logo
Eagle

Headline News

America
FOR CURRENT NEWS & COMMENTARY IN BETWEEN ISSUES, PLEASE CHECK EACH AMERICAN LINK
IN THE LOWER LEFT HAND COLUMN OR VIEW THE GUEST FORUM SECTION THRU
FREEDOMWRITER'S IKONBOARD.
About Us About Us
Advertising Advertising
Archive Archive
Art & Literature Art & Literature
Classifieds Classifieds
Commentary Commentary
Commentary Consumer News
Contact Us Contact Us
Guestbook Guestbook
Guest Forum Guest Forum
Headline News Headline News
Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor
Opinion Poll Opinion Poll
Our Links Our Links
Quotations Quotations
Trading Post Trading Post
Home Home

AMERICA LINKS


Note: Links to other sites will open in a new window.

AMERICAN DESPOTISM

WALTER E. WILLIAMS
From "A MINORITY VIEW"
WORLDNETDAILY.COM
Sep. 29, 2004

am69.jpg - 2721 BytesLast week, Washington Post columnist George Will penned a column "Despotism in New London" (Sept. 19, 2004). In it, he described how Connecticut's Supreme Court, by a 4-to-3 ruling, allowed the New London Development Corp. to use laws of eminent domain to condemn much of the city's Fort Trumbull neighborhood, near a $270 million Pfizer research facility, and lease it to luxury hotel, condominium and office building developers. New London, Conn., is hard up for tax revenues, and if the property is taken away from middle-class homeowners and transferred to wealthy interests, it will yield the city more tax revenue.

The Fifth Amendment is very clear about takings. It says, in part, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." The key phrase is public use. Public use means uses such as roads, bridges, military installations and public buildings. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that the only requirement for the taking of private property is that there be some public benefit. With that kind of reasoning, no one's private property is safe because what's a public benefit is subject to wide interpretation.

This kind of despotism is rife. John A. Rapanos, a 68-year-old Michigan landowner faces a 10-month federal imprisonment and up to $10 million in fines. Rapanos cleared and graded 175 acres of fallow farmland that he had owned since 1950 with the intention of constructing a shopping center. When the shopping center deal fell through, he leased the land to a local grain farmer. What was his crime?

Under the Clean Water Act, no person may discharge, dredge or put fill material into the navigable waters of the United States without a permit. The closest navigable waters to Rapanos' land are in Saginaw Bay, some 20 miles away. Rapanos' crime in the eyes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was that he filled in depressions on his land without permission.

According to his defense at the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation, "the Corps has argued that isolated pools and puddles were magically transformed into 'navigable waters,' and subject to regulations, merely by the stopover of 'migratory' birds." With the Corps' reasoning, you could go to jail if you had a tree stump ground out and filled the hole.

In the early stages of Rapanos' case, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff noting that a drug dealer had been before him that day said rebelliously, "Here we have a person ... who commits crimes of selling dope, and the government asks me to put him in prison for 10 months. And then we have an American citizen, who buys land, pays for it with his own money, and he moves sand from one end to the other, and the government wants me to give him 63 months in prison. Now if that isn't our system gone crazy, I don't know what is. And I am not going to do it."

Rapanos' sentencing has been delayed because the constitutionality of federal criminal sentencing guidelines, in another case, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in October.

President John Adams (1797-1801) said, "The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."

Unfortunately, our courts have increasingly become tools for powerful vested interests, and the constitutional protections of private property mean less and less each day. The good news is that we have energetic minds at organizations such as the Institute for Justice and the Pacific Legal Foundation who are fighting against the emasculation of our Fifth Amendment rights and other constitutional guarantees.

But they cannot do it alone; we must help them. Remember Benjamin Franklin's admonition: "Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you."

2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.


Dr. Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Original Article

(Enhanced for Netscape)

top Top

Previous Page

World News Alaska News

ptbas.jpg - 5185 Bytes
Web Alaska Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved