We commend to our readers a piece by Steven Greenhut, commenting on the ongoing California brouhaha over the demise of redevelopment agencies, proposed by, of all people, our recycled “Governor Moonbeam,” Jerry Brown, who wants to glom on to their revenues in order to plug the gigantic hole in California’s budget (if that term may be used here without doing violence to the English language). See Steven Greenhut, Corporate Welfare and the California GOP, reason.com, November 11, 2011 — click here.
Greenhut, who is knowledgeable about these matters (he has written a book on eminent domain abuses), takes note of the fact that in a curious obversion of the usual political order, lefty California Democrats who constitute the legislative majority and who usually are inhospitable — to put it mildly — to private property rights, have been following their leader (Governor Jerry Brown) and supporting his move to abolish redevelopment, whereas all but a tiny handful of our legislative Republicans have been opposing Brown’s move to abolish redevelopment and thus end this particularly virulent strain of “corporate welfare.” Why?
We have some problems providing an answer to this question. Republicans claim to be market-oriented types who oppose big government central planning. But strangely enough, at the local level, their asserted principles take a back seat to their support of deals that can only be characterized as “crony capitalism.” And California isn’t the only place where they have done so. As we noted recently, the same sort of thing has happened in Mississsippi where their governor, Republican Grand Poo-Bah, and former Republican National Committe Chairman, Haley Barbour, vetoed eminent domain reform passed by the state legislature and more recently led an [unsuccessful] fight to defeat an initiative curbing economic redevelopment property takings, both at the polls and in court.
At least Barbour is honest — it’s all about money. He says he wants to be able to use eminent domain for “economic redevelopment” in order to take private land and offer it as a subsidy to businesses, including foreign car manufacturers who compete with American car makers, to attract them to Mississippi. So if his candidly stated motivation is what this phenomenon is all about, it would appear that the Bible is right when it teaches that men are ever ready to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage. Too bad.