Monday, February 22, 2010

Why using blight for eminent domain just isn't right

From the NY Post:

New York's real blights today are government's fault -- like the old Deutsche Bank building at Ground Zero, owned by the city and state since 9/11, whose "deconstruction" is still underway.

Eminent-domain abuse is a symptom of a deeper problem: The belief that central planning is superior to free-market competition. To cure yourself of this notion, stroll around Atlantic Yards, past three-story clapboard homes nestled near corniced row houses -- "blighted" residences. You'll peer up at [Daniel] Goldstein's nearly empty apartment house, scheduled to be destroyed.

And you'll see how Ratner's wrecking balls have made the neighborhood gap-toothed. A vacant lot now sprawls where the historic Ward Bakery was.

Today, Prospect Heights displays what the state wants everyone to see: decay. But it's isn't the work of callous markets that left the neighborhood to perish. It's the work of a developer wielding state power to press property owners to sell their land "voluntarily." Meanwhile, true private investment has been choked off, since everyone knows the state's aiming to hand everything to Ratner.

Free markets aren't perfect, but they're better than the blight of arbitrary government.