The Politics of Law: A Progressive Critique

By David Kairys | Go to book overview

JOSEPH WILLIAM SINGER


10
PROPERTY

PROPERTY RIGHTS SERVE HUMAN VALUES. THEY ARE RECOGNIZED TO THAT END, AND ARE LIMITED BY IT.

Chief Justice Joseph Weintraub Supreme Court of New Jersey State v. Shack ( 1971)

THE institution of private property is alive and well. The nations of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have been converting to market economies, a transformation that has been nothing short of a revolution. And the push to privatize government institutions by transferring them to private owners seems to have caught on around the world. Evidence of this change can be seen in Latin America, Africa, Asia and, closer to home, in Canada and Mexico. Private property appears to be sweeping the world.

The United States has witnessed a burgeoning "property rights" movement, accompanied by the end to the federal entitlement to welfare and a renewed commitment to end the era of "big government" by reducing regulation. Both businesses and owners of land are increasingly angry about environmental regulations and local zoning laws that limit their ability to develop their land. Laws have been passed in a number of states granting remedies to land owners whose property is significantly harmed by government regulations. Several bills have been introduced in Congress to prevent implementation of regulations that "take" more than some specified percentage of the property's fair market value unless the owner is compensated for the loss. Other proposed bills require agencies to undertake complicated cost-benefit analyses of new regulations, ostensibly to prevent passage of regulations that overburden property owners and businesses. The Supreme Court has been increasingly receptive to

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