People draw different lessons from utopias collapse into wasteland, as a New York Times online debate shows:
This latter point deserves extended consideration. Sure, the Finkelmans of this world can just shrug the New London experience off as a glitch in the glorious creation of a brave new world. In Rope-a-Hope America, political groups, working hard, devise better ways than can free people to embrace progress and erect a clean, bright, shiny place to work and (if lucky) live.
But the problem with eminent domain used as a tool in development of grand plans (as opposed to limited projects for obviously useful things, like sewerage, roadways, power lines, etc.) is that those grand plans are always speculative. Field of Dreams provides no justification for government confiscation. If you build it, it doesnt necessarily mean they will come.
And now Pfizer is packing up, tarnishing the savvy of political hacks in cushy offices planning our future world.
The lesson to draw is not mere skepticism and doubt. Go all the way to incredulity. Redistributionist liberalism is not noble; its not even civil. Take from some and give to others and of course those others will praise the taking. But the some from whom much is taken — and that includes not merely the owners of confiscated property, but also the taxpayers whose money was used to buy off that confiscated property — are not made better off.
This isnt quantum mechanics. Its not that hard to understand. And if some eminent domain development projects have worked, not much has been proved, since the common judgment of working restricts the view only to the obvious consequences: the new project. It doesnt address the lives adversely affected (the expropriated, the forced-off) or the lives impoverished via the taxes. The idea in any con game, of course, is to shift our attention away from the trickery.
But tricking citizens isnt easy. Where voters have the right to intiative and referendum, they have blocked many a grandiose scheme.
The Kelo/New London debacle will increase public opposition to political overreach. Knowledge has a way of increasing voter skepticism.
This advance in common sense now reaches into the health care debate. A recent Gallup Poll shows that a majority of Americans now believe that it is no business of the federal government to force the utopian notion of universal health care onto the American people.
This is a recent change. A few years ago, when Gallup began tracking this ideological question, 59 percent of Americans favored federal government action on it. By 2007, 69 percent were all for a major, government solution to the problem.
Now, only 47 percent favor this.
Democrats took control and began floating actual proposals, thats what. And Americans could then see what such programs would be in actuality. Glorious fantasy quickly curdles into dubious reality.
Less freedom. Higher costs. Fewer services.
Further, the feel of the whole issue morphed, away from hope through medicine and towards the despair inevitably induced by bureaucracy.
The Democrats in Washington, like those in New London, seem well-intentioned enough. Movers and shakers all, they merely want to get things done. But all they possess to do good are the rather crude instruments of their profession: strong-arm politics and bureaucracy and the barrel of a gun.
So of course Americans begin turning against that reality. Wed rather make do with the government-controlled health care we suffer from today than endure even more coercive bureaucracy and good intentions.