Looting the Treasury

If you work in the field of eminent domain, you know that as surely as the sun rises in the East, you can count on condemnors’ lawyers whining in court that if property owners whose land is being taken by eminent domain were to be paid full compensation for all their demonstrable economic losses brought about by the eminent domain takings of their property, the government would go broke. The California Supreme Court once wrote that if owners were to be so compensated for their losses, “an embargo” on public projects would have to be declared. We regularly take note of that because in spite of its absurdity the court never retreated from that nonsensical statement, not even after the legislature repealed the rule of the case (People v. Symons) in which that absurd statement was made, but the creation of public works kept going on and on. For a more detailed discussion of how the courts promise “fairness and justice” but deliver undercompensation instead, see Gideon Kanner, “Fairness and Equity,” or Judicial Bait-and-switch? 4 Albany Government Law Review 38 (2011).

But outside of eminent domain, it’s another story altogether. Do read Sharon LaFraniere, Federal Spigot Flows as Farmers Claim Bias, N.Y. Times, April 26, 2013, at p. A1 (above the fold). Long story short, responding to claims of racial bias (some of which proved to be nonexistent) the feds loosed a river of money to claimants, many of whom made transparently fraudulent claims. You gotta read the details, folks — it is not to be believed, though its is all too true if you believe the New York Times. Click here for the whole NY Times article that asserts explicitly that

“From the start, the claims process prompted allegations of widespread fraud and criticism that its very design encouraged  people to lie: because relatively few records remained to verify accusations, claimants were not required to present documentary evidence that they had been unfairly treated or had even tried to farm. Agriculture Department reviewers found reams of suspicious claims, some from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination.”

And so it goes for pages, including Xerox  copies of transparently fishy claims by supposedly different people, but using the same handwriting and making the same claims.

The punch line of it all is that the feds knew all that but continued the “federal spigot flow[ing] unchecked.” “The total cost could top $4.4 billion.” Your tax money at work.

Bottom line: for that sort of orgy of waste they have money. But for paying “just” compensation to people whose properties are taken by the government, or worse, for private individuals for their personal profit under the borrowed government banners of “public use” and “just compensation” they ain’t  got money.

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