Tuesday, September 19, 2006
IN MY OPINION (Column)
When Governments Whine
By RAY HAYNES
One of the favorite tricks of the opponents of an initiative is to claim they oppose an initiative because it is “poorly written” or it has “unintended” consequences. If the opponent believes that the policy of an initiative is popular, the opponent will say “Hey, I support that policy, I just don’t support this initiative because it just does too much, or it will cost too much, or it is poorly written.” We are currently seeing this tactic used by those that oppose Proposition 90.
Let’s start with the context of the discussion. For years, state and local governments have pretty much had their way with landowners in California. If government wanted to take your home to build an auto mall, or a shopping mall, luxury condominiums or the like, all these politicians had to do was declare your neighborhood blighted (even if your house was in good shape), and the government could take your land and sell it to a politically influential developer who would then make a ton of profit off of your land, at your expense.
If you demanded fair market value for your land, the government would call you greedy, set a price, and take the dirt. The developer then reaps the profit because they built and sold a commercial building, which also increased sales tax revenue to the city. Good for the city, good for the developer, bad for you.
Not only has government been able to take your land, but they have been able to change how you use your land because some bureaucrat thinks you’re using it badly. Your family has been farming for 100 years? Too bad, the government passes a law and requires you to stop farming. Thanks Government!
So, along comes Proposition 90 and the people say government can’t do these things any more. And these government bureacrats, who have been doing these evil things for all these years say “Hey, we agree with that policy, government shouldn’t do this. But this initiative is just poorly written.” First, if they agreed with the policy, they would stop doing it. Second, if the initiative was poorly written, they wouldn’t care if it passed. There would be loopholes in it for them to exploit.
Trust me, Proposition 90 is very well written, and it has no loopholes. That is exactly why the opponents don’t like it. They can’t figure out a way around it. Of course those bureaucrats who have run roughshod over California think the initiative is poorly written. Their party is about to end, and they are doing everything they can to keep whatever semblance of power they still have.
Then they argue that it does too much or will cost too much. It will cost too much money if the government abuses the landowner. If the government respects property rights, it won’t have to pay money. If it doesn’t, then it can change its behavior or pay. That is not only fair, it is what the US Constitution requires.
Finally, a government can never do too much to protect its citizens from the abuses of overzealous bureaucrats. Will those bureaucrats complain about losing their power? Of course.
Will they claim that all civilization will end, and that we will all undoubtedly be afflicted with the heartbreak of psoriasis? Probably, but they will be wrong. All that will happen is that ordinary people will get a fair shake from their government.
And that is all Proposition 90 does. Give the citizens of California a fair shake. Isn’t that what government should do?
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company