Words to Ponder

We offer these thoughts of Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds. Read and reflect on the fact that, barring natural cataclysmic events, social changes for the worse take time to register.

“Part of the American Dream was the expectation that if you started a business, you might go broke but you didn’t have to worry about the government seizing your business on behalf of those with more political juice. That sort of thing was for Third World countries, corrupt kleptocracies where connections mattered more than capability.

Not anymore. In fact, some of those formerly corrupt Third World countries have started providing stronger protection for private property, as they’ve realized that the more power you give to politicians and their cronies, the less incentive people have to try to succeed through hard work. What’s the point, if you’re at the mercy of the cronies?

 We, on the other hand, seem to be moving backward.

 The fact is the powerful and connected — the Bloombergs, the Bollingers, et al — don’t really need strong legal protections. Nobody’s going to take their property anyway. (When’s the last time you heard of a rich guy’s home being condemned?) For those with juice, things seldom get as far as the courts.

 The courts are supposed to be there to protect the rest: The people without the connections, the ones who depend on the rule of law to keep the predators away.

 That protection has never been perfect, of course, but in the area of eminent domain it’s become a sick joke. The message sent is that your property belongs to you — until somebody with more clout wants it for something else, be it a “vision,” or a moneymaking scheme.

 Of course, this whole rule-of-law thing works both ways. Those politicians and their cronies are quick to rely on legal protections when their own interests are threatened by people outside the political system. But by undermining the property rights of the unconnected, they weaken the social contract that protects their own positions.

 As with our actual currency, our political class has debased the moral currency by which it governs, as well. May they have joy of the results.

 For Reynolds’ entire New York Post article go to: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/columbia_vs_the_little_guy_1Kx7nuGlUH2Pzvc4mwGvhK#ixzz18U3y2Pb6

 Reynolds rightly criticizes politicians and their cronies, but at least those worthies are acting in their own economic self-interest, and when challeneged can respond by saying “what we do is legal — the courts say so.” But what’s the judges’ excuse?

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