The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, June 27, 2005

A Monday Morning Rant 


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Those are some of the most powerful words ever put to paper with pen, and are the cornerstone of this country. Government derives it's power from the people whom it governs. The blogosphere has been a buzz lately with opinions on Kelo, and I've shared my own. This is a landmark decision, even if many are saying it simply affirmed what was already being practiced. Many have said since it is just an affirmation, it doesn't change much. I disagree. Placing the stamp of legality on what is practiced will only encourage cities to do it more often than they do now, for they now have nothing to fear, where before they did.

The NY Times recently had the following editorial about this landmark decision. The basic gist is that this decision is justified because the city's needs trump that of the individual in that city. The common good must outweigh private rights at all levels you see. This is exactly the opposite of what was written more than 200 years ago. Government power flows from the individual, not the other way around. The claim by the Times is essentially that everyone has a rental agreement with the city, and they can evict you at any time, for the city grants you permission to stay on it's land. Wrong. The city was founded by those who own land in an area, and the people grant the city certain limited power to govern. What right does the city have to say that you're not using your land well enough? Your home isn't good enough for us you see, so we're going to replace it with a hotel. Your factory which employs people in the are and makes a nice profit isn't the sort of thing we'd like to see, so we'll simply replace it with a private marina. It's not about the "common good" any more, it's about value judgments on land usage. It's about collectivism... and it's about raising more taxes as if that were the ultimate goal of government. Government is not a business! No person, and certainly not the city, has the right to tell a property owner that they're use of the property is not good enough for them. That's exactly what is going on here, and it has to stop.

This decision has made me wonder which parts of the Constitution are really the most important. I've come to the realization that the 9th ought to have been the 1st:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

James Madison (great man by the way) said this of original Bill of Rights and pushed very hard for the inclusion of the 9th Amendment (and the 10th as well):

It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution.

Government shall be limited. All the power in the world belongs to the individual, except that small amount which we give up to government. Rights are retained by the people... and we're quickly seeing them slip from our fingers. I fear the day when the most important amendment will become the 2nd:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

This concludes today's rant.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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