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Property Rights - Essay Example

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The case of Kelo vs. The City of New London is a land law case involving the city's power of eminent domain. Eminent domain is the power of the government to purchase property of individuals for public use.
In this case, the government acquired the properties of Kelo and others to give it to a corporation…
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Property Rights
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Property Rights

The land subject to eminent domain is to be given to a private entity for an economic project. The problem presented by those who criticize the ruling in this case is that private entities and corporations might use this to influence the government in acquiring lands. This will give them an undue advantage against individual citizens with respect to property rights.
According to John Locke, the moment a person is born, he has the right to preservation. He has the right to enjoy and use nature for their subsistence. "God, who hath given the world to men in common, hath also given them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life and convenience." Locke said.
As such, According to Lock, since God gave the world to men for its use and enjoyment, there must be some way in which people could take them and own them. Because without taking them and owning it, how could people use it This is the basis of individual property rights.
However, the property rights of a person are not absolute or unconditional. It may be subject to conditions and it may be limited in favor of the state, the general welfare of the people or for public order. For example, the government may regulate transactions involving properties. These regulations may take the form of contract laws, professional regulations law, or even labor law.
Another example of limitation o...
Because the government is task to protect and promote the general welfare of its people, to successfully do this, it needs money to spend. And a bulk of the money used by the government comes from taxes. Without the power to impose taxes, the government will not be able to acquire money and by taxation, individuals are required to part with a portion of their property in favor of the government. Hence it is a limitation to their property rights.

The Power of Eminent Domain
Another form of limitation on the individual's property rights is eminent domain. In eminent domain, the government is authorized to take a person's property, even against his will, as long as such taking is for a public use and the person is paid just compensation.
The Problem with This Case
Usually, this is exercised by the government when it builds infrastructures such as bridges, school buildings and the like, mostly government owned. However in this case, it was exercised by a corporation for economic development.
While it is true that the economic project will reap benefits for the whole city such as jobs and revenues in the form of taxes, such is only incidental. Ultimately, whatever revenue that the corporation will receive will go to the private persons who own it.
This, I believe, would cause an alarming precedence. Because of this ruling, the private entities are now allowed, in a way, to exercise eminent domain. All it has to do is to apply to the city, present the number of jobs that it could offer the possible revenues that it could earn the city and they can get delegation of that power. They can force individuals to sell them any property they like.
In my opinion, this would threaten the individual's property rights. Exercise of eminent ... Read More
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