Martin Anderson, R.I.P.

Martin Anderson, Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Hoover Institution, died at the age of 78. If you don’t recognize the name, he was the author of an early critique of urban renewal, which appeared as the book “The Federal Bulldozer: A Critical Analysis of Urban Renewal, 1949-1962” (MIT Press, 1964).

Urban renewal (later re-christened “urban redevelopment,” and later still into “economic redevelopment” of Kelo v. New London infamy) proved to be a destructive force that over the years contributed to the decline of American cities, and in spite of the expenditure of kings’ ransoms in public funds, failed to revitalize American cities, even as it filled the pockets of urban redevelopers favored by city hall insiders, and holders of tax-free municipal bonds. Worse, it transmogrified legal doctrine concerning the “Public Use” clause of the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution into an Orwellian mish-mash in which, in the hands of American judges, “public use” came to mean anything that city hall insiders wanted it to mean, i.e. that the latters’ decision to use eminent domain to displace urban populations to make room for redevelopment was “well-nigh conclusive” as long as it was merely “rationally related to the conceivable.”

Kudos to Martin Anderson for discerning the coming urban catastrophe ahead of most people.