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OpenMarket: Property Rights

  • Wealthy Chanhassen, Minnesota, NIMBYs Oppose Retail Competition, Support Development Socialism

    November 2, 2011
    Reading the tired, silly claims of left-wing, anti-Wal-Mart activists generally makes me yawn. But it annoys me to see some of my former neighbors from my hometown of Chanhassen, Minnesota, going around trampling on property rights and opposing the liberalization of the real estate market. Let's start with a demographic profile of modern Chanhassen. When my parents moved our family there in the early 1990s, large parts of the city were still undeveloped. It was on the fringe of the southwestern Minneapolis suburbs. Since then, the city has developed rapidly due to its close proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul core -- leading to population doubling over the past two decades, with most of the growth coming from upper-middle class families with children. According to the 2010 Census, households are quite wealthy, with 48.6 percent of them earning at least $100,000 annually. Only 2.1...
  • Can Fraud Be Immunized by Giving the Defrauder Certain Governmental Powers Over the Victims?

    October 26, 2011
    Can a private organization that has been delegated some government regulatory powers claim absolute government immunity against lawsuits when it engages in fraud against those it regulates -- even when the fraud is at most distantly related to its regulatory functions? Amazingly enough, an appeals court said yes -- a ruling that conflicted with another appeals court's ruling -- and the Supreme Court is now being asked to reverse that decision. The Competitive Enterprise Institute joined Cato Institute in filing an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to review that disturbing ruling shielding wrongdoing. The brief, which cites constitutional safeguards and separation-of-powers principles, can be found here. The case is Standard...
  • Eminent Domain and Redevelopment: Down in the Dumps

    September 2, 2011
    Remember New London, Connecticut, the dying industrial town that threw property rights under the bus thanks to 2005's notoriously awful Kelo decision? I'm sure your blood pressure can answer that question. So, after the city was victorious in its case against homeowners, its planned redevelopment plans fell through after Pfizer closed its adjacent research facility. The cleared field that was once occupied by historic single-family homes became a home only for waist-high weeds and feral cats, as I noted on the five-year anniversary of the decision last year. Amazingly, things have gotten even worse. Via Reason's Damon Root:
    ...
  • Obama Justice Department Forces Banks to Make Risky Loans, Planting the Seeds of a Future Financial Crisis

    August 31, 2011
    The Wall Street Journal today writes about how the Obama administration is repeating the "mistakes of the past by intimidating banks into lending to minority borrowers at below-market rates in the name of combating discrimination." Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez has argued that bankers who don't make as many loans to blacks as whites (because they make lending decisions based on traditional lending criteria like credit scores, which tend to be higher among white applicants than black applicants) are engaged in a "form of discrimination and bigotry" as serious as "cross-burning." Perez has compared bankers to "Klansmen," and extracted settlements from banks "...
  • Eminent Domain, Rick Perry, and the Trans-Texas Corridor

    August 24, 2011
    Attorney Alan Ackerman has a post up highlighting and commenting on an article that argues that critics of Texas Governor Rick Perry from the right should temper their rhetoric with respect to Perry's support for the Trans-Texas Corridor. It is true that condemnation of private property is all but inevitable in order for the state to assemble the highway's right-of-way:
    Former California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore wants critics from the right and left to lay off Texas Governor Rick Perry, who proposed Trans-Texas Corridor, a 4000-mile north to south development with toll...
  • The "Obama Law" Devastates Impoverished People in the World's Second Poorest Country, The Congo

    August 9, 2011
    People are going hungry, pulling their children out of school due to poverty, and joining criminal gangs to make ends meet in the poorest region of the Congo, the world's second-poorest country.  Residents of this African nation attribute this economic devastation to what they call "the Obama Law" -- provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial "reform" law backed by Obama that have created a virtual embargo on minerals produced in the Congo's desperately-poor mining towns. As David Aronson notes in...
  • How Many Billions to Bail Out Borrowers Who Fraudulently Took Out Liar Loans?

    August 8, 2011
    The government is looking into the possibility of bailing out underwater mortgage borrowers, including speculators and McMansion owners.  It's also seeking to extract many billions of dollars from the nation's largest banks (like Bank of America, whose stock price has fallen from $15 last year to $6.50 today, leaving Americans' 401(k) plans, which commonly invest in banks, that much smaller).  A...
  • Obama Administration Crafting Yet Another Bailout: Speculators and McMansion Owners May Benefit

    July 26, 2011
    As if America didn't already have enough bailouts, the Obama administration is planning yet another -- one that could enrich "McMansion homeowners and property speculators." As Philip van Doorn notes at The Street,
    A report on Wednesday that the U.S. Treasury is considering "a plan that could help 1 million or more homeowners avoid foreclosure," leaves some very disturbing questions unanswered. First and foremost: Why should taxpayers bailout McMansion homeowners and property speculators? According to Bloomberg, the proposal is "aimed at promoting modifications of delinquent or defaulted home loans, including writedowns of principal" for "mortgages...
  • NYC Bureaucrat Tries to Harsh Urban Apiarist's Buzz for Not "Watering" Beehive

    July 15, 2011
    Although New York City reversed its position on urban beekeeping in Spring 2010 and legalized the practice, there are apparently still some government employees with nothing better to do than harass apiarists and their pollinator companions:
    The cash-strapped Bloomberg administration has mounted a “sting operation” against city beekeepers — ticketing a Douglaston man an unbelievable $2,000 for not watering his beehive. “It’s outrageous. It’s difficult to understand how this could happen,” Tip Sempliner...
  • Planning to Disaster: The Zoning Apparat vs. Paula Deen's Chickens

    June 30, 2011
    Those who know me are aware that one of the two weird -- so I've been told -- policy issues I'm obsessed with is urban homesteading (the other is bunker fuel -- see here, here, and here). Urban homesteading is a back-to-the-land, "buy local" movement. Essentially, it's when green yuppie types play farmer in the city (complete with ironic hipster overalls!), which includes but is not limited to:...

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