Via Terry Burgess on the LeftLibertarian
yahoogroup. Oligopoly Watch
cites a good pre-Kelo Wall Street Journal article on the abuse of eminent domain. I don't know how much harder the Kelo controversy has made such shenanigans at the local level, but I suspect it varies from place to place. ED
is being applied to give an advantage for large retail oligopolies.
A recent Wall Street Journal article's title tells it all; "Cities Use Eminent Domain To Clear Lots For Big-Box Stores" (12/8/2004). The article gives a number of instances of property owners being pushed out by government so that major retailers can build. For example:
* Pttsburg, Kansas used the law to condemn private land so Home Depot could build a store.
* Port Chester. New York, clears out its business districts and scores of small retailers to enable Costco and Bed, bath and Beyond to build megastores
* Cypress, California condemned a vacant lot to Costco could build there.
* North Bergen, New Jersey, condemned a Kmart so a Home Depot could be built.
* Maplewood, Missouri , condemned 150 homes and business and sold it to Wal-Mart
While such big companies decry government oversight and minimum wage hikes, they are more than happy to use government power to get a handout. One observer is quoted in the WSJ article as saying "They're a new generation of robber barons, like the railroads of the 19th century." Like those companies, they are snatching up land intended for "public use," a concept that has been broadened by courts over the last few years.
The article documents a series of dirty tricks and lower-than-appraised compensations, as the big chains more and more persuade local governments that their salvation is based on keeping the big companies. (We've already seen how the big stores are just as likely to abandon such a property and run off to the next town for the slightest cause.)