Category: Property Rights

The real story of the first Thanksgiving

You’ve no doubt heard the well-known story of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you know that what you’ve heard is drastically inaccurate?

According to the writings of William Bradford, the colony’s first governor, the hardships and near-starvation of the entire population occurred because the colonists turned their backs on capitalism. They believed the old lie that an economy based on the concept of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” can actually work. They instituted a socialist system, and found out that socialism causes disaster:

The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

For more on the lessons the pilgrims learned, see this piece by Rick Williams, Jr.

Then read about the tragedy of the commons, and consider how that knowledge applies to America’s present disastrous condition.

Here’s a way to get rid of all that federal land

The federal government currently owns almost 30% of all land within the United States of America. That’s obscene.

Federal Lands

Look at how bad the situation is in the western states:

Who owns the West?

The only sure way to fix it is via an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Here’s one that should do the trick:

AMENDMENT __

SECTION 1: With the exception of unincorporated Territories, Indian lands, and the District of Columbia, the United States shall not own any more than ten percent of the total land area of the United States, nor shall it own more than twenty percent of the total land area within any State or Territory. The United States shall designate lands that it owns beyond these limits as Excess Federal Lands.

SECTION 2: The United States shall begin selling all Excess Federal Lands by public auction no later than one year after the ratification date of this Amendment, and the United States shall divest itself of all Excess Federal Lands no later than ten years after the ratification date of this Amendment. The United States shall make a good faith effort to auction all Excess Federal Lands, and all such auctions shall be open to all individual citizens of the United States exclusively. The laws and regulations of the States and the Territories shall govern the conduct of auctions of Excess Federal Lands within their borders. During this auction period the United States shall not divest itself of Excess Federal Lands by any method other than by public auction. All Excess Federal Lands that remain unsold ten years after the ratification date of this Amendment shall become the property of their respective States or Territories.

SECTION 3: Any acquisition by the United States of new lands that would otherwise violate Section 1 of this Amendment shall first be offset by divesting an equal or greater amount of lands in accordance with the auction procedures in Section 2. If such auctions fail to sell enough land to comply with Section 1, the United States shall divest the remaining excess lands by transferring ownership to their respective States or Territories.

Have I left anything out?

Thanksgiving: a holiday born out of an early American experiment with socialism

You’ve no doubt heard the well-known story of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you know that what you’ve heard is drastically inaccurate?

According to the writings of William Bradford, the colony’s first governor, the hardships and near-starvation of the entire population occurred because the colonists turned their backs on capitalism. They believed the old lie that an economy based on the concept of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” can actually work. They instituted a socialist system, and found out that socialism causes disaster:

The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

For more on the lessons the pilgrims learned, see this piece by Rick Williams, Jr.

Then read about the tragedy of the commons, and consider how that knowledge applies to Obamacare.

An early American experiment with socialism

You’ve no doubt heard the well-known story of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you know that what you’ve heard is drastically inaccurate?
According to the writings of William Bradford, the colony’s first governor, the hardships and near-starvation of the entire population occurred because the colonists turned their backs on capitalism. They believed the old lie that an economy based on the concept of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” can actually work. They instituted a socialist system, and found out that socialism causes disaster:

The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.
What happened?
After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.
This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.
This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.
To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

For more on the lessons the pilgrims learned, see this piece by Rick Williams, Jr.

State government runs amuck, tears out basketball hoops

Look at how arbitrary, dishonest, forceful, and unresponsive a state government can be. This is why we conservatives constantly warn about federal power; it’s even worse.

You want context? Here’s your context.
That blonde state official in the grey sweatshirt sure is infuriating, isn’t she? You’d hate to have to deal with people like her, wouldn’t you? Well, just one word should hit you in the gut after watching this video and imagining similar interactions with overbearing government drones.
Obamacare.

An early American experiment with socialism

You’ve no doubt heard the well-known story of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you know that what you’ve heard is drastically inaccurate?
According to the writings of William Bradford, the colony’s first governor, the hardships and near-starvation of the entire population occurred because the colonists turned their backs on capitalism. They believed the old lie that an economy based on the concept of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” can actually work. They instituted a socialist system, and found out that socialism causes disaster:

The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.
What happened?
After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.
This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.
This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.
To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

For more on the lessons the pilgrims learned, see this piece by Rick Williams, Jr.

On the loss of $800+ worth of plants

I just caught the lawn care company applying Round-Up to every plant under 2′ tall in my beds. Just lost $400+ of wildflowers, perennials, baby shrubs, and any large plants hit by the windblown spray. No wonder last year’s starts (also $400+) all died too.
I’m drafting an itemized bill now. If they refuse to reimburse me, they’ll learn how foolish it is to pick a fight with someone who buys bandwidth by the megabit.

The tragedy of the commons

Do people treat rental cars better than their own cars? Is the office fridge cleaner than your home fridge? Does a public park have less litter than your back yard? Is a government housing project maintained as well as a privately owned apartment building?
The answer in each case is obviously “no”, but have you ever wondered why?

An early American experiment with socialism

You’ve no doubt heard the well-known story of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you know that what you’ve heard is drastically inaccurate?
According to the writings of William Bradford, the colony’s first governor, the hardships and near-starvation of the entire population occurred because the colonists turned their backs on capitalism. They believed the old lie that an economy based on the concept of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” can actually work. They instituted a socialist system, and found out that socialism causes disaster:

The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.
What happened?
After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.
This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.
This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.
To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

For more on the lessons the pilgrims learned, see this piece by Rick Williams, Jr.

Small town uses eminent domain to oust Wal-Mart

You live in a small town named Hercules and you like its charming, quaint look. Then Wal-Mart buys land in your town, invests $1 million to redesign the property to suit your town’s desires, and gets ready to build a new store. What’s a poor leftist to do? Why, just get the town council to seize the land.

Attorneys from Wal-Mart told the council that the retailer had spent close to $1 million to redesign the property to the community’s liking. They said the council couldn’t claim it was legally necessary to take the land and that the decision set a bad precedent.
“Today it may be Wal-Mart but the question is where does it end,” Wal-Mart attorney Edward G. Burg said.
City officials countered that buying the land was acceptable to ensure it was developed to the community’s liking and fit in with overall plans for the city.

Property rights? What property rights?
Here’s hoping Wal-Mart relocates its new store just outside the Hercules city limits.

Kelo comes to Cleveland

WTAM just mentioned that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority voted in support of the City of Cleveland exercising eminent domain to take several commercial properties and turn them over to a private developer.
Keep in mind that this vote does not trigger the city’s eminent domain powers; only City Council can do that, not the Port Authority. But today’s vote tosses the issue squarely into City Council’s lap, which is clearly a heavy-handed negotiating tactic. The eminent domain threat is designed to pressure the last hold-outs to sell their properties to Scott Wolstein for a multi-million-dollar redevelopment venture. It’s a pretty blatant strong-arm job, but hey … that’s Cleveland politics for you.
I found the CCCPA news release, which includes the following:

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority voted unanimously to authorize eminent domain proceedings if further negotiations do not result in the acquisition of several properties identified for redevelopment in the Flats east bank.
Eminent domain is always a last resort, but the agency must be prepared when all good faith efforts to reach an agreement have been exhausted, Chairman John Carney said today at the port’s board meeting.
“We are still hopeful we can resolve this situation before it actually goes to the courts. That is still our desire,” he said.

“The [Uniform Relocation Act] very clearly spells out the rules for acquiring property for redevelopment. We are not given a choice in the matter. Either we follow the letter of the law, or the project could be in jeopardy,” Loftus told board members.

Note the phrase “acquiring property for redevelopment.” This is exactly the kind of eminent domain taking that sparked the lawsuit in Kelo v. New London. If approved by City Council, this will be another example of a local government seizing private property from one private citizen and giving it to another.
Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Chairman John Carney said:

“The project will transform a crime-ridden area plagued with neglected buildings and deserted streets into a thriving lakefront neighborhood. This will result in millions of dollars in revenue for the region and thousands of construction and full-time permanent jobs.”

Ah, yes. The famously elastic “blight” loophole is back again. Eminent domain seizures often target “blighted” areas that are declared to be unsafe or hazardous to the public in some major way. The catch is that the definition of “blight” has never been firmly settled. If the government wants your property badly enough, it will find a way to declare it “blighted.”
The Cleveland City Council had better beware, though. The Ohio Legislature’s moratorium on these types of eminent domain takings will not expire until December 31st. The penalties for violating the moratorium are pretty stiff.
I’ll have more to say about this shortly.

Eminent domain abuse in Norwood, OH

George Will highlights another clear example of eminent domain abuse in his latest Newsweek column. A few key paragraphs:

The Gambles say that when the city offered them money for their house, they were not interested. “We had everything we wanted, right there,” says Joy, who does not drive but could walk to see her mother in a Norwood nursing home. “We loved that house — that home.”
Past tense. Norwood’s government, in a remarkably incestuous deal, accepted the developer’s offer to pay the cost of the study that — surprise! — enabled the city to declare the neighborhood “blighted” and “deteriorating.” NEWSWEEK reader, stroll around your neighborhood. Do you see any broken sidewalk pavement? Any standing water in a road? Any weeds? Such factors — never mind that sidewalks and roads are government’s responsibility — were cited by the developer’s study to justify Norwood’s forcing the Gambles and their neighbors to sell to the developer so he could build condominiums, office buildings and stores.

Reeling from the life-shattering effects of an uncircumscribed power of eminent domain, the Gambles are hoping for rescue by their state Supreme Court, before which they are represented by the Institute for Justice, a merry band of libertarian litigators. The Gambles have the dignified stoicism of uncomplicated people put upon by sophisticated people nimble with complex sophistries. Carl says, “We’re paying a lot each month for storage” of their possessions that do not fit in his daughter’s basement near the town of Independence, Ky. Independence is what becomes tenuous when property rights become attenuated.

This could happen to you, folks. If you happen to live in Ohio, please read my post on the Ohio eminent domain task force that’s ignoring the major objection to eminent domain abuse: people don’t want the government taking their property and giving it to another private property owner. Ever.
As George Will wrote, “Kelo demonstrated that anyone who owns a modest home or small business owns it only at the sufferance of a local government that might, on a whim of rapacity, seize it to enrich a more attractive potential taxpayer.”
Hat tip: No Left Turns

Ohio eminent domain task force misses the point

5th Amendment textThe Ohio task force on eminent domain has released its preliminary report, and it’s missed the most important point of the exercise. I’m not interested in a fairer procedure for the government to use as it takes my home. I’m not interested in a clearer definition of “blight” that spells out exactly when the government can take my home. You see, I don’t want the government to take my home at all. Why is that so hard to understand?
A local or state government can exercise its eminent domain powers to take private property from its owner, if the government does so for a “public use” and pays “just compensation” (see the Fifth Amendment, at right). Until very recently, the term “public use” meant what you’d expect: building a school, putting in a highway, laying railroad tracks, and other projects that the public has access to.
We used to think of private building projects as a “private use” of property, since the public doesn’t have guaranteed access. But no more. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Kelo v. New London last summer, the definition of “public use” has expanded to include the government seizing your land and giving it to another private owner for “economic development” (which means the new owner’s project yields higher property taxes than you do, or creates jobs, or some similar rationalization).
Liberals and conservatives alike blew a collective gasket over the ruling, and angry voters have already pressured several state legislatures into passing laws prohibiting these takings through eminent domain.

Continue reading

Eminent domain questions for Blackwell & Petro

I just e-mailed the gubernatorial campaigns of Ken Blackwell and Jim Petro and asked the following question:

Would [candiate name here] support Ohio legislation to permanently prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes (see Kelo v. New London)?

I realize that the Ohio legislature passed a temporary moratorium on this kind of government taking, which expires in December. I asked instead about a permanent ban.
I’ll let you know how the candidates reply, if at all. My guess is that at least one (and maybe both) will duck the issue and defer to the “Legislative Task Force to Study Eminent Domain and Its Use and Application in the State”, which will release its first report on April 1st.

Pack your bags, Justice Souter

This is priceless:

Press Release
For Release Monday, June 27 to New Hampshire media
For Release Tuesday, June 28 to all other media
Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter’s land.
Justice Souter’s vote in the “Kelo vs. City of New London” decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.
On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter’s home.
Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

God willing, the town selectmen of Weare will approve the request.
Hat tip: Rush Limbaugh