The Locker Room

June 24, 2005

The Bright Side of Kelo

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 11:20 PM

Or when the law gives you lemons, make lemonade. Via my eminently sensible friend Wes, who notes that now all those bothersome agreements, "treaties," and such with Native Americans can evidently be kicked to the curb. Just say "public good" and all is forgiven.

Need some land? "Public good." Want it cheap? "Public good." Little short on cash, need some tax-exempt financing? "Public good."

Besides, I happen to know of an honest-to-goodness trailer park just outside of Matthews in Union County, smack up against an I-485 exit. Make a great spot for a mixed-use, smart-growth certified, transit-friendly development. Hmmm. Say it with me now, "public good."

Feels good doesn't it?

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See the depressing post-Kelo future

Posted by Jon Ham at 4:59 PM

James Lileks, the best writer on the Web, did a photo essay a while back of a suburb in Richfield, Minn., that was bulldozed so that Best Buy could build its corporate headquarters.  Richfield was ahead of its time. Only yesterday did the U.S. Supreme Court, in Kelo v. City of New London, say it was OK to condemn private property for the benefit of another private owner. In addition to dozens of homes in Richfield, the car dealership featured in the movie "Fargo" also got the axe. Check it out, get depressed, and then get mad enough to do something about it.

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Liberal misery

Posted by Jon Ham at 4:39 PM

Here's Woody Allen in an interview with the German newsmag Der Spiegel:

But the truth of the matter is that existence in general is very very tragic, very very sad, very brutal and very unhappy. Every now and then, something happens that's funny. And that's refreshing. But then you move back into the real world, which is not funny. You only have to pick up the newspaper in the morning and read about the real world and you see that it's rotten, just bad.

No wonder that old bumper sticker, "Annoy a liberal: work hard and be happy," upsets liberals so.


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Mandatory Health Insurance

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:15 PM

There are questions enough about mandating health insurance for everyone without Mitt Romney threatening to impose taxes and garnishee wages of the uninsured. A simpler alternative would:

1. Eliminate mandates 

2. Allow high-deductibility policies combined with HSAs

3. Eliminate the tax break for employers and make insurance an individual responsibility--you may be surprised how much cheaper you can get individual insurance than small group insurance

4. Make proof of insurance one of the forms of ID needed when taking a job

My qualms enter at step four. 

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Can You Fit a Kelo in That Big Box?

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:58 PM

Obviously Wal-Mart, Target, etc. stand to benefit from yesterday's Supreme Court decision.

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Fun with party stereotypes

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:37 PM

Although his intent was to harm people, Slate stereotype-slinger Michael Kinsley didn't even need to shout "Fore!" after duck-hooking this poor column into the drink:

At the same time, the Republican obsession with golf reveals the party's phony posturing as the champion of average Americans. All the hand-wringing among Democrats about why liberals don't go to NASCAR races or duck hunts misses the fact that Tom DeLay and Bill Frist don't go to monster-truck night with the guys from Deliverance either. They hit the links at exclusive country clubs with rich donors and corporate lobbyists. That's who they are. Golf is an expression of the party's elite upper-class id.

But two can play this silly game. For example,

At the same time, the [Democrat] obsession with [Wal-Mart] reveals the party's phony posturing as the champion of average Americans. All the hand-wringing among Democrats about why [conservatives] don't go to [diversity training] or [support a $15/hour minimum wage] misses the fact that [Hillary Clinton] and [Nancy Pelosi] don't [make clothing runs and grocery buys] from [Ma & Pa at Hee-Haw] either. They hit the [shops] at exclusive [uptown locales] with rich [hoity-toities] and [corporate execs]. That's who they are. [Designer snobbery] is an expression of the party's elite upper-class id.

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China and Unocal

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:40 PM

China's economic growth is pushing oil over $60 a barrel and leading Clyde Prestowitz to condemn the lack of US industrial policy (again). I first went to Japan in 1991, just before the bubble burst and the "decade of stagnation" began. That personal experience may warp my view of China,but I think it more likely keeps my concerns in check.

There are many things to cause concern about China--its ruthlessness at home, its bellicose rhetoric towards Japan and Taiwan, its relative popularity in the world, its willingness to build ties with other despotic regimes--but buying US companies should not be one of them. The Financial Times does a good job questioning the wisdom of the deal for China, but if a deal goes through the beneficiaries will be Unocal's shareholders, most of whom are in the US.

The US is investing in China for low labor costs. It makes sense for some Chinese firms to invest in the US for brand recognition as Lenovo gets through IBM computers and Haier gets through Maytag appliances.

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Bitterly divided, bitterly we tell you

Posted by Hal Young at 12:23 AM

Paul: regarding the "bitterly divided" Supreme Court, the following decisions were so described by various media. There's a definite pattern:

Juries, not judges, can increase sentences beyond the suggested maximums (WashPo)

The Missouri Compromise was ruled unconstitutional, "precipitating the Civil War" (New Republic)

 "state governments are immune from individual lawsuits for violations of federal laws" (World Socialist Website)

Manual recounts in Florida's 2000 presidential balloting were unconstitutional, "the end of the road" for Gore's candidacy (Salon)

School vouchers can be used for private and religious schools, too (Kinderstart.com)

Upholding anti-sodomy laws in Georgia(from a blog whose parent site I don't think I'll visit)

Upholding school policies mandating random drug testing for student athletes

And just to show it's not all leftward leaning writers, here's one from National Review about a ruling in which "A bitterly divided court came within one vote of making language choice a protected civil right" but didn't.

Well! At least NR had access to the Official Style Manual!

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A real-life 'taking'

Posted by Jon Ham at 11:55 AM

For a family in Fort Wayne, Ind., the idea that government can take your property without paying for it is not just a hypothetical argument.  

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Who could be against this?

Posted by Jon Ham at 10:32 AM

Wake Forest University may be pointing the way out of the embryonic stem cell dilemma. Researchers there have coaxed stem cells from skin cells, or, more specifically, foreskin cells. Nobody could be against this development, could they? Just wait.

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Mike Adams column: To colleges, having Christian students makes for "Difficult Dialogues"

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:30 AM

Mike Adams writes today about how Georgia College & State University seeks a grant from the Ford Foundation to fund their investigation into "deeply held religious belief's precluding or interfering with the principles of academic freedom and the enterprise of questioning and discussing controversial subjects," for which they're seeking "anecdotal evidence of religious faith making civil, balanced, classroom discussions virtually impossible."

This would be the Ford Foundation's "Difficult Dialogues" grant. It's the same Ford Foundation grant that the leftist professors at UNC are chasing after — when they're not having conniptions over UNC administrators approaching the Pope Foundation for a grant, or saying that accepting grants from corporations amounts to "selling the university," of course!

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All the Benefits of Pot...

Posted by Paul Chesser at 09:52 AM

...without that messy bong water!

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Local faked hate crime

Posted by Jon Sanders at 09:44 AM

Per the N&O:

When a news anchor at WRAL-TV received off-color, threatening e-mail messages, she didn't hit the delete key. She notified the State Bureau of Investigation.SBI agents said four anchors and a meteorologist at the station received inflammatory messages, sent from a public computer terminal at a Benson library.

On Wednesday, the SBI arrested and charged Fern Georges, 33, with cyberstalking and ethnic intimidation, both misdemeanors. ...

The messages directed to Owens and anchor Pam Saulsby, both African-Americans, were racially charged. In one e-mail, the sender wrote, "Please tell Gerald Owens that if he keeps playing under the table, I'll burn a cross in his bedroom."

The suspect:

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Delightful newspaper pacing

Posted by John Hood at 08:56 AM

I appreciate newspaper reporters who, despite the constraints of the medium, nevertheless find ways to work cadence, and creativity into news stories. Here’s a small example of that, which also speaks to an important point about conflict of interest that JLF has often remarked on.

The new budget for Guilford County raises property taxes in part to fund a gift to a civil rights museum downtown. Skip Alston is a member of the county commission and statewide head of the NAACP:

Alston said the civil rights museum will bring tourists to downtown and increase traffic for nearby businesses.

The cost to complete the center jumped from $10 million to $16 million after workers found structural problems with the old South Elm Street building in which it will be located.

"Everybody's coming together ... to come up with some ideas on how to complete that museum," said Alston, co-founder of the nonprofit raising money for the museum. "This is a small token towards that effort as it relates to the county giving their part."

Alston sits on the nonprofit's board.


Good use of a short declarative sentence to convey key information.

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Will on the Kelo decision

Posted by George Leef at 08:40 AM

Yesterday's Kelo decision will be a subject of discussion for some time. George Will had an excellent analysis in the Washington Post, which you can read here.

What it comes down to, I believe, is this. The majority on the Court believe that "economic development" by government planning works and therefore judges ought to let them do it . They're flat-out wrong. Far more often than not, government "economic development" winds up wasting resources, while enriching only a few well-connected interests. "The public" does not gain from the construction of new sports stadiums, convention centers, upscale hotels, amusement parks, and so on. Even if the planned New London development is a commercial success, that won't make life one bit better for the vast majority of residents. But the justices thinking goes no further than the gassy cliches of politicians such as "revitalization."

By the way, Thomas drove a stake through the heart of the majority opinion, which Stevens chose to ignore, when he observed that the Court doesn't give "deference" to politicians when they want to violate other constitutional rights. Once again, we see that property rights are second-class citizens in the eyes of the Supreme Court.

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Who is running what now?

Posted by John Hood at 07:55 AM

Burley Mitchell is a friend of mine, a former chief justice of the NC Supreme Court and former board member of the John Locke Foundation. But Mitchell, who has been hired to defend Dell’s economic incentive package against a lawsuit filed Thursday by his former colleague on the court, Bob Orr of the Institute for Constitutional Law, is simply much too willing to defend the unchecked power of the state. He let slip a telling remark to reporters:

“[Orr’s lawsuit] is an action brought by ideological purists," Mitchell said. "It has nothing to do with Dell. It has to do with their opposition to any form of economic incentives. . .

"That's a fine, ideologically pure approach. But they've lost this argument in every legislature, including the North Carolina legislature, and they're turning to judges to be judicial activists and take over the running of the economy from the legislature and the governor," Mitchell said.


The legislature and governor do not “run the economy” and never have. That they and their defenders believe otherwise illustrates precisely what the problem is here.

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Re: Supreme Court Redefines 'Public'

Posted by Paul Chesser at 07:33 AM

From the Washington Times version of the Kelo story:

According to the Associated Press, Connecticut is one of several states that either expressly allow a taking for private economic purposes or have not spoken clearly to the question.

Eight states -- Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington -- forbid the use of eminent domain for economic development unless it is to eliminate blight.


Sounds like this needs to move to the top of the priority list for amendments to the N.C. Constitution.

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Olerud Should Avoid Those Tampa Road Trips

Posted by Paul Chesser at 07:23 AM

After all, the Red Sox player can't afford to have his child fall into the hands of the Florida Supreme Court.

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