Reason.tv has a great online video series hosted by television star and well-known libertarian Drew Carey.
Two of these episodes address the issue of eminent domain. They focus on eminent domain abuse whereby small property owners – such as homeowners, small businesses and community groups – are targeted. Various government entities want to use eminent domain for so-called economic development purposes, that is, take property from one private owner and hand it over to another private entity in the hopes of government raking in more tax dollars.
This is the same issue that was the subject of the Kelo v. City of New London case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Of course, a narrow 5-4 Court majority put forth an outrageous decision. The U.S. Constitution says that the government can exercise its eminent domain powers only for a “public use.” The Court threw out “public use” and replaced it with “public purpose,” and then allowed politicians to effectively define “public purpose” as they like.
As illustrated in the Drew Carey videos, small businesses, homeowners and community organizations are now at the mercy of politicians and their politically powerful buddies.
The “National City: Eminent Domain Gone Wild” episode focuses on a community youth center – along with some 700 other properties – labeled as “blight” and targeted by local government for eminent domain abuse.
The “Redevelopment: A Tale of Two Cities” episode compares how two cities in California handle the issue of economic development – one abuses eminent domain, one does not. In one case, a small business was lost; in the other, a small business continued to thrive.