Friday, November 11, 2011

One Mississippi...

Well the supposed rubes and rednecks down in Dixie have a lot more on the ball than New York sophisticates-at least when it comes to the Constitution and the right of private property. This past Tuesday the voters of Mississippi voted overwhelmingly in favor of an eminent domain referendum that severely restricted the government from condemning property:

"WJTV, Channel 1 of Jackson, Mississippi, reports that in yesterday’s election the eminent domain amendment to the state constitution passed by a whoppping 73% to 27% margin, in spite of opposition by Republican Governor Hailey Barbour. The new constitutional provision prohibits the taking of private property for commercial redevelopment. Under its terms the taker must hold the property for at least 10 years before conveying it."

What this indicates is that the people of the state have more sense than their governor-remember that back in 2009 Governor Haley Barbour had vetoed the strong anti-condemnation bill that had passed the legislature:

"Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour vetoed eminent domain reform legislation yesterday after it was passed with strong support from both houses of the state legislature. Today, the Mississippi House voted 101 to 19 to override the veto, but the Senate has yet to weigh in. Mississippi is one of the few states not to have passed eminent domain reform legislation since the Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo v. New London decision."

Of course enlightened New York has yet to even make a small move in the direction of reform. And Governor Barbour is a role model for Mike Bloomberg in this regard-a front man supreme for crony capitalism:

"But none of that mattered to Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who promptly vetoed the bill, claiming it would cripple his ability to lure large corporations into the state. As Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, admitted in his veto statement, had he not promised Toyota that he would use eminent domain to secure a piece of contested land for its Blue Springs facility, "Toyota would have broken off negotiations with us and chosen one of the other states competing with us for the project."

That sob story may be true, but it still does nothing to justify the state's forcible seizure of private property for the benefit a rich and powerful corporation. Toyota won't be building bridges or roads or waterways or any other legitimate public project that might permit the use (or threat) of eminent domain. It wants to build a plant to manufacture cars and then sell them for a profit. That's not a legitimate public use."

As Reason Magazine points out: "...if Barbour wants to attract business to his state, he might try pushing for lower corporate taxes or for any number of other pro-business enticements that don't involve stripping citizens of their fundamental rights." And if Bloomberg wants to promote economic development he might try making the NYC business climate just a bit more hospitable-something that tax happy Mike finds inordinately hard to do.