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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: June 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The State of Property Rights One Year Later

Just over a year ago I wrote several posts (here, here, here, and here) in response to the egregious Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court ruling. As it turned out, I was not the only one outraged. In fact, in the aftermath of this ruling, this blog along with about 20 or so other blogs banded together to form the Life, Liberty, Property blogging community with the common desire to write about these fundamental rights. As of this post, the LLP has 142 members; a diverse collection of libertarians (small l and large L), classical liberals, anarchists, miniarchists, Objectivists, conservatives, Republicans, and even a few Democrats. The Kelo injustice transcends political affiliation as I am sure that New London’s displaced citizens also held an equally diverse array of political views.

A lot has happened since the Kelo ruling. As I settled into my new home of Denver, Colorado, I’ve been trying to learn all I can about the issues and the players in Colorado politics. One of the first things I uncovered: the Colorado Libertarian Party headquarters along with thousands of private citizens are going to be displaced as a result of eminent domain to build a private toll road. The Colorado Libertarian Party has been active in the property rights crusade; is this just a coincidence? Despite the Colorado Legislature’s attempt to stop this abuse, Governor Bill Owens (R) vetoed the bill citing Colorado’s increasing “transportation needs.” This is but one example nationwide of the consequences of Kelo.

Not all that has happened in the past year since has been bad for property owners, however. In a way, Kelo has done property owners a favor by forcing the states to deal with the issue. Since the ruling 25 states have passed laws to protect property owners from similar abuses of power. Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, and Wisconsin have efforts underway to do the same. Voters of many of these states will have their say in November. And while Colorado citizens were dealt a blow with Governor Owens’ veto, the Colorado Supreme Court has just ruled that cities cannot declare an area ‘blighted’ without a public hearing.

On the federal front, over one year after Kelo President Bush signed an executive order to limit the federal government to use eminent domain “for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties.” While I welcome this action on the part of the president I cannot help but wonder…what took him so long? My theory: he’s a politician who is feeling the heat just as many politicians are on this issue. The American people are fighting back. While much more needs to be done, who knows, maybe in a few years this Republic will be saved from the Supreme Court…on this issue at least.
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Monday, June 19, 2006

Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month (May 2006)

A lot has happened since I last updated this blog: Al Zarcowi met his demise (yeah!), the president signed a new indecency bill into law increasing fines to $325,000 per offence (booooo!), celebrities try to tell a property owner what he can do with his own property (who the hell do these people think they are?) and North Korea is expected to test a long-range nuclear missile as early as today (scary!). My family and I have been busy moving from Phoenix, Arizona and settling into our new home in Denver, Colorado. We got out just in time to miss the hot Phoenix summer facing highs in the mid 90’s as opposed to highs the 110-115 range. Now that I am somewhat settled in, hopefully I can get back into some sort of regular blogging schedule. With so much to write about happening in this crazy world, I am no where near ready to stop blogging. With that said, I would now like to introduce the top three posts for May 2006 (which seems like such a long time ago already).

Third Place goes to Jon Swift with his post Too Many Voters. Swift makes some rather provocative suggestions to increase the quality rather than the quantity of voters. Perhaps his most provocative statement is this: “Voting should be a privilege not a right.” Beyond that Swift suggests that the Voting Rights Act should be allowed to expire because “[the VRA is a] relic of our racist past” and therefore is no longer necessary. Swift would also like to see literacy tests and poll taxes be reinstituted as a way to filter out uneducated voters and to return to the original method of selecting state senators rather than by popular vote (which would require a repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment). While I disagree with allowing the VRA to expire, and poll taxes (though paying a nominal fee does not seem to stop people for voting for the next American Idol), repealing the Seventeenth Amendment so that each state is represented (the people would still be represented in the House) and ensuring that voters should attain a certain level of literacy before choosing our leaders both seem like very reasonable proposals to me.

Second Place goes to Tom Wright of The Wrightwing with his post Guns, Wicca, and the Left in general. Wright does not like the discriminatory policies of the Boy Scouts of America towards atheists but does like how the BSA educates young boys about firearms. Wright found an alternative scouting organization called Spiral Scouts which was originally founded by Wiccans but does not discriminate against people of other faiths or those who have no faith at all. So far it does not seem that the Spiral Scouts are interested in firearms instruction. Why is this so important? What if you are opposed to guns? Wright explains:

[T]he majority of us, I think, would agree that knowledge of the potential consequences of sexual activity, heartache, disease, pregnancy, responsibility for a child, are all things our children should be aware of before we send them out into the world…


Our children need to know enough to be safe around them [firearms], even if it is just enough to know how to take one away from a child that somehow gets its hands on one. To take it away safely, so that something more tragic does not occur. If just for that, we should be teaching firearms knowledge to our children, even if we intend they never own or handle a firearm in their entire life.
Until such an organization appears, I would suggest to anyone who wants to teach their children about gun safety to take a look at the National Rifle Association’s safety programs. The NRA does the best job in the area of gun safety compared to other organizations because the NRA makes gun safety a priority. This is Tom Wright’s second appearance in the top three (Third Place, February 2006).

And the winner is…

The Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month for May 2006 goes to Indian Cowboy of OK, So I’m not Really a Cowboy with his essay titled: Liberty in a Statist World. Indian Cowboy sums up the main reason for the decline of liberty:

The essential problem is that once government has become involved in the regulation and restriction of various aspects of behavior, it is almost impossible to remove government interference from the picture. Furthermore, once involved in a given area, it becomes easier and easier for government to increase its scope and breadth. In other words, free societies will inevitably spiral downward should something occur to upset the balance between individual liberty and government control…
I could not have stated the problem any better. The more government ‘gives’ to us the more liberties the government can take from us. Liberty is a fine, fine essay and I encourage all of my readers to read it. This is Indian Cowboy’s second appearance (Second Place, December 2005) in the top three.

Congratulations to all of May’s winners!
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