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Eminent domain decision was small potatoes
July 8th 2005

Eminent Domain Decision

If a thief stole small potatoes from your cupboard and a big-screen TV from your family room, would you be more upset about the loss of the potatoes or the loss of the TV?  Well, judging by the reaction to the Supreme Court's eminent domain decision in the Kelo case, most Americans would be more concerned about the small potatoes.

Pundits, politicians and the public are rightly saying that it is theft for the government to take someone's home and sell it to private developers for the stated purpose of economic development, at a price determined by the government and the developers, not by the owner.  Strangely, they are quiet about a much more egregious theft of property that has been going on for decades.

The government is stealing trillions of dollars from millions of Americans each year and giving the loot to millions of other Americans, including well-off retirees who get free prescriptions at the expense of future generations, wealthy corporate farmers who get crop subsidies at the expense of grocery shoppers, Ethanol producers who get rich at the expense of car drivers, and irresponsible parents who get free tutors and pre-school for their kids at the expense of responsible parents.  A complete inventory of all the loot and the looters would run for hundreds of pages.


According to my analysis, 62 percent of federal spending is theft - that is, money that is taken from some people and groups and redistributed to other people and groups instead of being spent on the true general welfare, which I define as government services that benefit all people equally or as equally as practical.  The 62 percent comes to over $1.5 trillion per year, or about $13,000 per household.  One hundred years ago, only about two percent of federal spending was theft.

The value of homes taken through eminent domain is chump change compared to the trillions taken from chumps by the government.  For many people, the amount of money stolen from them over their lifetime and given to others is much greater than the value of their home.

At least a homeowner gets most of his money back when his house is taken by a city and sold to a private developer.  But a citizen gets nothing back when his money is forcibly taken by the government and given to private individuals and special-interest groups.  Zilch, zero, nada.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I am not saying that the taking of a home is less immoral than the taking of money.  In either case, the victim is having the fruits of his labor taken by people who have no right to the fruits of his labor.   

Both types of theft are not only immoral, but they are also unconstitutional.  The Takings Clause was not written by the Framers to permit the taking of homes for private development.  And the General Welfare clause was not written to permit the taking of trillions of dollars from private citizens for other private citizens. 

Still, the taking of homes is small potatoes compared to the taking of trillions of dollars.  So why are politicians, pundits and the public more upset about the former than the latter?

Craig J. Cantoni

Mr. Cantoni is an author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (  His new book, Breaking from the Herd:  Political Essays for Independent Thinkers by a Maverick Columnist, can be purchased for $18.95 at retail or $10 from him.  He can be reached at








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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Sunday, July 11, 2010 01:18 AM