The Evils of Eminent Domain

You know, I often times don’t think most of us (myself included) fully understand just how much power over our lives the federal government has already taken.  We rallies and protests trying to stop the government takeover of our lives when, in reality, we’ve already fallen pretty far down the rabbit hole.  Fox News recently did a poll to ask people how they thought the founding fathers would feel about the kind of politics that are going on in Washington and the kind of government we’ve allowed to take over our country.  The poll, rightfully, illustrated a great disgust for the changes that had taken place in our nation since its founding but, every now and then, a story like this comes along and reminds us just how far-reaching Uncle Sam’s hand has become.

Even if you don’t read any more of this post, I hope you will read the above-linked story because it is fascinating on multiple levels.  It tells an amazing nature story and an eye-opening tale of government intrusion that exposes just how unconstitutional and scary the existence of the eminent domain power is.

To explain just a bit about the story (although I HIGHLY recommend you read it) the small town of Centralia Pennsylvania sits on a coal mine that has, no kidding here, been on fire since 1962!  Now, I have to say, that’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever heard.  It seems a dumpster caught fire and the flames were sucked down into a nearby coal vein.  Since coal is so slow burning and the mine runs under the entire town, the fire just spread and has been burning ever since.

Now, obviously, the town is not the safest place in the world to live.  That fire has caused homes and businesses to fill with carbon dioxide and parts of the ground to become unstable.  I know that if I lived in this town when this happened I’d be hopping the first train to anywhere else-ville.  However, there are many residents that have clearly stated that, with full understanding of the risks involved, they wish to stay in their homes.

However, the federal government, in one of their greatest displays of power-abuse in history, has used the law of eminent domain to seize control of the entire town.  Many of the residents have been fighting this for YEARS, decades even, but it seems that almost all of the residents of Centralia have now been ousted.  Almost the entire town has been deserted and bulldozed by government order.

Now, there are those that will argue several points in favor of this action and for eminent domain in general.  All of these arguments, however, are easily countered.  First and foremost is the argument that this was all for the citizen’s safety.  While that may be, and probably is, true, it doesn’t excuse the action.  One of the most important rights that our founding fathers wanted for us was the right to property.  We have the creator-given right to full domain over the things we have rightfully acquired.  Whether or not staying in their homes is dangerous these citizens have the right to make that decision for themselves.  It is not the job of the government to be our parents.  Freedom means, not only having the right to live your life the way you choose, but to also accept the consequences of the choices you make.  We see this same problem in mandatory evacuations.  Yes, it is wise for a Floridian to get the heck out of dodge if there’s a category five storm on its way.  However, it is still the choice of the homeowner whether or not to heed the warning.  If they don’t, it is their decision to suffer the consequences of.

The other hidden problem with the idea of eminent domain is with the reimbursements the property owners receive for their relocation.  It’s a nice idea and acts as a sugar coating to a really nasty bit of medicine but let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture.  These property owners are being reimbursed with OUR MONEY!  Never EVER lose sight of the ultimate source of all government funds; our tax money.  Not only that, but there is still no choice in the matter.  Being reimbursed doesn’t change the fact that the eviction is mandatory!  In short, the government is using our money to compensate people for being forced out of the homes they have rightfully earned.

Now, this particular situation aside, the majority of times that eminent domain is exercised it is to build a new road, civic building or some other kind of government project.  This means that private property is being stolen from citizens that worked hard to rightfully obtain it in order to serve the greater good.  Does that not sound EXTREMELY socialist (no…wait…screw socialistic.  That is downright communistic!) to anyone else?!  Take from those who have earned and distribute it to those who have not in order to level the playing field.  Does this not sound familiar to anyone?  That’s the entire agenda of President Obama in a nutshell!

Centralia has displayed for us just how far the government is willing to take this program.  An ENTIRE TOWN was seized because Washington felt that it was in the best interest of the public instead of letting the people decide for themselves.   What next?  Will they decide to seize all of Detroit because it is failing (due to government intervention and union influence in the first place) and turn it into a government-run city?  It’s all a snowball effect that ends with the complete abolishment of private property and the redistribution of wealth; just like Karl Marx wanted it.

The claim of eminent domain is absurd anyway.  How is it eminent that the government will own anything?  If someone sells their property then it either goes to another private citizen, a business or a holding entity like a bank or real estate agency.  At no point does it become government property.  There are farms in the south that have been passed down through family lines for decades.  I fail to see how government ownership is ever eminent.

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2 Responses to “The Evils of Eminent Domain”


  1. 1 MikeB February 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    In many ways, eminent domain seems to be the metaphor for the age we live in. Government is intent on growing bigger and with its intent comes more “taking” in the form of taxes, as well as reducing choices, assets and liberties.

    It is ironic that you blog about Centralia, PA, because Pennsylvania and New York, among other states, will see more eminent domain “takings” thanks to the rising interest in natural gas drilling in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. With more drilling comes more pipelines and more underground gas storage fields — and that (pipelines & storage fields) always means eminent domain.

    The excellent Institute for Justice (of Kelo fame) declines to intervene in energy/utility “takings” because, they told me, of the “public good” premise.

    But property owners can fight back. Our two-year battle against Houston-based Spectra Energy which seized our property rights for an underground gas storage field led to the development of a website which has begun to attract whistle blowers inside the energy industry. We are collaborating and helping property owners in many states. For info, visit the site: http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/

    By the way, our new neighbor, Spectra Energy, has received two Notice of Violations for “unlawful conduct” related to emergency shutdowns and emissions at its storage field in Bedford County, PA. Reports of contaminated water supplies are on the rise since they began operations.

    The ripple effects of eminent domain are never over.

    • 2 freedomwatchnews February 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm

      Great comment! Thank you for sharing that. I and my readers needed to hear that story. I’ll keep an eye on this and possibly even do a post on it later.


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