Saturday, August 7, 2010

Eminent Domain Floats Jeffersonville Mayor Galligan's Boat

HARBESON: Here’s my take on land-taking


SELLERSBURG — I don’t know a lot about the proposed Jeffersonville canal project. I just know the details are still kind of muddy.

I don’t know how much it will end up costing Jeffersonville residents. I just know it may also cost taxpayers throughout Indiana, and even the country, if state and federal funds are used, and project manager Peggy Duffy thinks this is a positive.

I don’t know if the canal will have enough clean liquid flowing through it year-round to be an attraction, or why Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan thinks it’s always possible to “just stand up” in 4 feet of water to avoid drowning, as he was quoted as saying in this newspaper. I just know that some are concerned.

I don’t know if the canal will stink. I just know that the area will have a nasty stench for freedom proponents if Galligan and Jeffersonville government follow through on their open threat to use government force to take property from neighbors who do not consent to turn over their property.

I don’t know if Jeffersonville government officials will actually enact eminent domain on any of their neighbors. I just know they are ready and willing to do so because Galligan has clearly stated that, “if you’re in the middle of the canal and you turn the appraisal down, we’ll have to condemn” your property.

I don’t know if many others would also think such an action would stink because they agree that individual property rights are fundamental for peaceful human interaction. I just know that I was glad to hear that at least one person who spoke at the recent canal update, Tanya Tuell, expressed interest in property rights.

I don’t know why some people think this is exactly why we need government, in order to protect individual private property. I just know that I’ve concluded that it’s a sham because government itself is the worst offender.

I don’t know if others think much about eminent domain, how it’s been used in the past and how it’s being used in the present. I just know that it’s increasingly being used in the name of economic development, particularly on projects dreamed up by government officials who spend other people’s money and use fancy drawings and videos to deflect attention from the means used to gain these ends.

I don’t know what the precise canal route is yet. I just know that I hope the reason for this is because the officials are trying to create a route they can develop without using eminent domain on a neighbor.

I don’t know if the government will attempt to use a traditional excuse, public utility, to rationalize eminent domain action by claiming the canal is necessary because the EPA demands a fix to sewer overflow problems. I just know they have other choices that would not include taking someone’s home.

I don’t know why Galligan thinks he can tell concerned neighbors that government is not trying to steal anyone’s home, and at the same time admit he will use eminent domain. I just know that if I took anyone’s property without their consent, I’d be accused of stealing, even if I paid them a few bucks.

I don’t know why Galligan says the city would try to be fair, but would not overpay. I just know that neither you, nor I, nor Galligan has any idea what it would mean to overpay because the free market economic conditions that are necessary to determine this do not exist with this project.

I don’t know whether they will actually enact eminent domain because I don’t know if any private property owners will not consent to the taking of their property. I just know that a local government said it will pull out the big gun if necessary, which tells me how far they are willing to go to get what they want.

This is a truth I really didn’t want to know. But it’s all I need to know.

Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson knows that you know that she knows that government is a sham.

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