Ze Older Stuff

Phrases to Steal By

From the Common Sense email list:

Usually, politicians use 50-cent words to puff up two-bit ideas. When it comes to taking away people’s land, they do the opposite. They use three phrases — “eminent domain,” “economic development,” “master plan” — and they mean big money.

A baseball stadium, or a strip mall, or a department store looks better — to the politicians — than whatever’s already on a piece of property.

So they take the property away and give it to someone else, whether the owner likes it or not.

Eminent domain is supposed to let government do necessary things like build roads and run utility lines. Today, it’s a way to beef up a town’s tax base by replacing homes, small businesses — even churches — with high volume enterprises or gentrified housing.

Take Elizabeth Fernando. She’s lost three properties to the city of Indianapolis. First for an athletic facility. Then for a convention center. Now, they’re taking her parking garage for — get this — parking! The city’s restoring some “historic” apartments next door, and wants a flat lot instead of a garage.

Normandy, Missouri, pondered seizing a convent — a convent! — to put in a strip mall. Thankfully, a higher power intervened.

Nearby St. Louis declared a building “blighted” and seized it. Why? Because the owners refused to give its tenant, a department store, a new long-term lease . . . and the city fathers wanted that store to stay there.

Eminent domain used to mean a necessary taking. These days, it just means political thievery.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


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