Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Theft's Labours Lost

WSJ notes today the coda to the tragedy of Kelo v. New London. (In case you forgot, the 2005 Kelo decision was the most corrupting rulings handed down by the Supreme Court in decades. It authorized an expansion of the power of government to include 'public purposes' as vague as tax collection rather than 'public use', which is the literal statement of the 'takings clause' of the Fifth Amendment. Dissenting Clarence Thomas called this a "deferential shift in phraseology" and noted that the city's 'public purpose' was "suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation".)

Now, Pfizer is leaving New London:
While Ms. [Susette] Kelo and her neighbors lost their homes, the city and the state spent some $78 million to bulldoze private property for high-end condos and other "desirable" elements. Instead, the wrecked and condemned neighborhood still stands vacant, without any of the touted tax benefits or job creation.

That's especially galling because the five Supreme Court Justices cited the development plan as a major factor in rationalizing their Kelo decision. Justice Anthony Kennedy called the plan "comprehensive," while Justice John Paul Stevens insisted that "The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue."
Whoops! It turns out Washington bureaucrats, even the ones in long robes, are not the best judges of how to manage a local economy. It also turns out that selling out your lower-class residents to curry favor with a large corporation is a losing game for municipalities. Pfizer is a pfickle lover, and was never committed to New London.

Susette Kelo, on the other hand, was committed. But I'm guessing New London lost her love, too.

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