Taxes and the Economy

Information about Eminent Domain, Public/Private Development and Open Government 

 

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Biblical References in Give Me Liberty Speech by Patrick Henry

HISTORICAL RECORD: Winter Months Grazing for Sheep in Bethlehem area

Fox News December 24, 2013: Too cold for shepherds in December

The Real Lincoln - Despot

Is the Constitution Really Inimical To States Rights? - Part Fourteen

MYTH: Too cold for shepherds to Tend Flocks in December - Part 2

Gun Control Coming to the Senate Floor on Monday

74th Anniversary of 'Gone with the Wind' premiere

Eminent Domain - A gaping loophole and abuse

Eminent domain is the power of government to seize - against their will - the property of citizens for public use. The original intent of this power was to build public facilities; ie. roads, bridges, buildings, etc.

For most of our countries history even politicians understood what "public use" meant. It meant "not private."

But the siren call of big money can confuse weak minds on even perfectly clear definitions. Big money has resulted in "public use" being interpreted about as many ways as the politically correct can make up myths about Southern Heritage. In other words, eminent domain has been used in an ever increasing range of "cozy" relations between politicians and developers.

These abuses are usually pretty obvious, but there is another less obvious abuse of public office. That is to use land that was seized under eminent domain years ago as barter with private developers. The following example of the federal government wanting to "sell" land seized many years ago for the public use of "national forest" to developers now. Of course these "mysterious developers" would be very happy to make the appropriate campaign contributions to show their good citizenship.

This is just legalized robbery or bribery depending on which way you look at it.

If the citizens of our country are sincere about ending abuse of eminent domain there is a very simple solution. Require that should the government at any time in the future fail to use the property for the purpose for which it was seized, or desire to quit using it for that purpose - the land reverts back to the original citizen (or their heirs).

The primary purpose of government should be to protect the rights of its citizens, not to build larger campaign accounts.

The example below is a case where land was seized from citizens many years ago, and now the government wants to sell its investment for a profit to "selected" citizens or companies so they can make an even larger profit. There is nothing in this series of transactions that protects the rights of citizens.

Let the developers buy the land from the citizens to whom it originally belonged. It will be cheaper for the developers, they will not have to make campaign contributions! The increase in the local tax digest will more than cover the loss of federal funds which usually amount to less than 8% of local school budgets.

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White House seeks sale of National Forest land for school funds

By JAMES W. BROSNAN
Scripps Howard News Service
10-FEB-06

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is proposing to sell up to 307,000 acres of National Forest in 32 states to developers to subsidize schools in timber country.

The Forest Service hopes to generate $800 million over five years from the sale of isolated parcels that are difficult for foresters to manage, said Mark Rey, undersecretary of Agriculture for natural resources and environment.

More than one-quarter of the acres being considered for sale are in California, with 85,465 acres. Idaho is next with 26,194 acres followed by Colorado, 21,572 acres, and Missouri, 21,566 acres.

The Forest Service plans to publish maps of the proposed sale areas on its Web site Feb. 28 and take comments on which ones to remove.

"We want everyone to be comfortable with every half-acre that stays on the list," said Rey, who expects they would eventually sell between 150,000 and 200,000 acres of the 193 million acres of Forest Service land.

But the plan has to pass Congress and that may not be easy. It is opposed by a coalition of environmental groups and some key western senators have reservations.

"Public lands are an asset that need to be managed and conserved," said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said it is a "short-sighted, ill-advised and irresponsible shift in federal land management policy' that would hurt hunters, anglers, campers, foresters, cattlemen, miners and other users of public lands.

One of Bingaman's objections is that the isolated plots cited by Rey are often used in swaps with private landowners or counties to obtain land adjacent to the National Forests. Congress approves those deals on a case-by-case basis.

"Our public lands are a legacy for future generations. We shouldn't liquidate that legacy," said Bingaman.

Rey responded that the Forest Service would still have plenty of parcels to swap and will continue to add land at the rate of about 115,000 acres a year.

If Congress doesn't approve the plan it would have to come up with another revenue source for payments to rural school systems that for 92 years have received a cut from timber sales on federal lands.

With those sales declining, Congress in 2000 authorized payments from the general treasury through the end of this year.

Rey said the administration wants to continue the aid for another five years "to make sure our rural school systems don't fall apart."

(E-mail brosnanj(at)shns.com or visit www.shns.com.)

Source: http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=FORESTSALE-02-10-06

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