Why Eminent Domain Is A Negative Power of Government

Eminent+Domain+reform+in+Texas+was+struck+down+as+legislatures%2C+such+as+Lois+Kolkhorst%2C+left%2C+could+not+reach+common+ground+with+legislatures+like+Tom+Craddick.
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Why Eminent Domain Is A Negative Power of Government

Eminent Domain reform in Texas was struck down as legislatures, such as Lois Kolkhorst, left, could not reach common ground with legislatures like Tom Craddick.

Eminent Domain reform in Texas was struck down as legislatures, such as Lois Kolkhorst, left, could not reach common ground with legislatures like Tom Craddick.

Eminent Domain reform in Texas was struck down as legislatures, such as Lois Kolkhorst, left, could not reach common ground with legislatures like Tom Craddick.

Eminent Domain reform in Texas was struck down as legislatures, such as Lois Kolkhorst, left, could not reach common ground with legislatures like Tom Craddick.

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Governments have used eminent domain for centuries, as a means to acquire land and resources that are deemed necessary in order for a sovereign nation to function, However, the people and communities the government takes this land from are often forgotten. The areas where the land taken from are often not fairly reimbursed for their land and are worse off socially and economically before the deal was made, leaving eminent domain as a unproductive, ineffective, and an overall harmful practice.

Before the government can take the land by the means of eminent domain, the government must first “justly compensate the property owner,” as a way to make up for their loss. However, just compensation rarely ever happens, and an almost insulting restitution typically replaces it. A jury ruled that a man should be rewarded $595,625 dollars for the swath of land the government was attempting to take in order to build a bike path. Unshockingly, the court ordered almost 50 times the amount the city originally tried to pay. This large of a difference in appraisal cannot be a product of accidental miscalculation or even a genuine, subjective difference in opinion of what the land is worth. This kind of offer reflects a  predatory, purposeful deceit that cannot be justified through eminent domain and is proven here to be a weapon for the government to steal land from its populace in trade for a far diminished price from its actual value, and is injurious for a nation. Ironically, even though the compensation offered by the government often does not eclipse the true financial loss of the land taken, the predictions of the potential benefits provided by the land are often over exaggerated.

During the planning process for what to do with the land acquired from eminent domain, governments often overestimate just how much good the can do in the community with the services and infrastructure built on the land. In Ohio, a 90 acre lot of land was obtained with eminent domain and given to the Pfizer company for 10 dollars, so that the company could build a large factory, that would hopefully produce jobs and boost the economy of the community. Pfizer also wanted all the surrounding residential homes removed so the Factory didn’t have any neighbors, and the local government obliged. Along with the cheap selling price, and forceful removal of residents from their homes, the government also gave Pfizer tax breaks worth 26 million, but only got a “vast empty field… that was uninhabited,” all the while Pfizer got to sell the factory for 55 million . Through the entire chronicle the city gave countless sacrifices, all for the hope of jobs and an expanding economy, but received absolutely nothing in return from the corporation. To give up so much money and resources, all while leaving the company blameless, is an abuse and unjustifiable use of government power. It shows how the government’s absolute trust in itself, as well as it’s inability to follow through with promises, is a dangerous combination with the power to strip property from its residents as a whim. To request this much help as a multi-million dollar company is absurd. It’s even more absurd that that when everything that is wanted is given, and the company still chooses to sell out and leave with zero consequences. Maybe if the government were better able to follow through and increase the likelihood of all their grand intentions happening eminent domain would be viable, however, this does not happen as much as it proponents like to act like it does.

Some may argue that eminent domain is an important source for community revitalization, but this lacks evidence, such as the Pfizer factory example mentioned earlier. Eminent domain rarely provides the benefits that officials claim it will and actually lead to ineffective management of land and funds by the government. This mismanagement is not at the expense of corporations, or the government, but at the expense of the people. If not directly by actually losing their property to the hands of eminent domain, then by the misuse and waste of their tax dollars. Eminent domain simply leaves the government too much power to do as it please with no check as to whether or not the land was actually taken for proper reason and whether or not the land taken was put to proper use. It is true that the government needs land and resources to carry out certain duties necessary of a government, but this does not justify blatant abuse of citizens. If eminent domain had more checks and balances against it like every other aspect of government, then it may be a useful and fair tool for all parties involved. Unfortunately, this is far from the way that eminent domain is used which leaves it as a damaging and unfair power of the government.

Eminent domain is an ineffective and harmful practice that governments are only allowed to do because they decided that it was something that would benefit their ruling. It does not derive its power from the people, but from the purse. Because of the reluctance for a government to properly reimburse the party who the land is take from, and the government’s inability to ensure that the land is used properly and to its utmost effectiveness, eminent domain is no more than a useless, and abusive tool that allows the government to overstep what should be allowed at the expense of the citizens who live under it.