Eminent Domain: What’s Yours is Ours?

Public Good Vs Justice (Image Source: Whatever is Yours is Ours)

Public Good Vs Justice (Image Source: Whatever is Yours is Ours)

The issue of eminent domain and its ramifications has caused landowners and residents of US towns loss of homes, money, and lots of hardship.

In Centralia, Pennsylvania, over 1,000 residents were relocated due to an underground coal mine fire which allegedly made their town hazardous to live in, according to an article by the Associated Press. However, 8 residents fought the state’s eminent domain stance and won. They claim that the state simply wanted them out of Centralia to have full access to the mining of the anthracite coal beneath their town.

In Hau’ula, Hawaii, a female resident calls the mayor a “ruthless bully” as she battles in court to retain land ownership rights and against eminent domain. The land in question is needed to build a new firehouse as the current firehouse lies in a flood prone area. The case remains in litigation.

In New London, Connecticut, homes that were seized under eminent domain which involved Pfizer Research & Development Headquarters, lie empty four years after private citizens lost their battle to remain in their homes.

Scott Bullock, who argued the case on behalf of the New London homeowners, said, “Today’s announcement that Pfizer is closing its research facility in New London demonstrates the folly of government plans that involve massive corporate welfare and that abuse eminent domain for private development,” according to A Home Lost For What, on That Woman’s Weblog.

Loraine Ritchey, the writer of the blog, writes and reports extensively on freedom of speech and abuses of eminent domain. Her blog is well worth reading for examples of eminent domain abuses.

In a bid to build a memorial on the site where flight 93 crashed on 9/11 the National Park Service told 7 landowners who refused to sell their shares of 500 acres of land that the federal government would “condemn” the land and take it. In Whatever is Yours is Ours

From corporate giants using eminent domain to seize land, to memorials being built in the middle of nowhere, to seizure of homes to make way for the building of luxury condos, the Eminent Domain abuse for the alleged “public good” is an issue that is worth scrutinizing.

The definition of public good should not include financial gain for the government, private corporate enterprise, or the deliberate manipulation of a marketable product. What do I mean by manipulation of a marketable product? Well, supposing dandelions grow for 8 months of the year abundantly in your back yard. Then supposing that it was discovered that dandelions became valuable because their stem juice could run car engines. Then supposing the government tells you that they are taking your yard, dandelions and all, because it comes under eminent domain. Is that manipulating a market? Who gains from that manipulation? Is that for the “public good?”

The incident this past summer of bog owners in Clonmoylan, County Galway and other bog owners around Ireland, protesting their land ownership rights and continuing the tradition of cutting turf on their privately owned land needs to be fully examined to make sure that supply and demand of turf is not being manipulated. I am all for protecting the natural beauty of the environment, respecting this planet so that future generations can enjoy its beauty, but I have to applaud those private citizens who stand up and protest when eminent domain is used in its most negative form. It does and has happened, and will continue to do so.

The artificial recreation of raised bog environments in areas not privately owned, though admittedly costly, should be explored further. Is it as costly as the fines being paid to the EU or the cost of paying overtime to guards? I don’t know. This doesn’t mean giving carte blanche to desecrate bogs, which commercial cutting will do. But there is common ground to be found. I would hope that both bog owners and environmentalists involved in the issue would consider discussing the possibility further.

Common ground will not be found through social media demonizing of the opposition which has caused me to stand back and re-examine how seriously polarizing this raised bog issue has become.

As usual, I do expect to be inundated with comments from environmentalists. I have been criticized for having voiced my opinion, the need for common ground, in the past. If you read the message of this post as I intended for it to be perceived, it is that eminent domain has been abused in the US, it can very possibly be abused in Ireland also. It would be a shame to continue this polarization of people, when there is a viable solution.

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4 thoughts on “Eminent Domain: What’s Yours is Ours?

  1. Thanks for an informative post. I didn’t know anything about this before. It seems as though being an EU member comes with certain limitations on individual property rights.

  2. It happens here too Lon, the Roads Authority can force you to sell your house if they want to widen or upgrade a road network…and also Mining Companies if there is coal etc under/on your land. People do appeal but as far as I know you are still forced out-just takes longer!

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