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Thursday, February 01, 2007

ACS v. FedSoc: Property Rights

A conception of property rights is the third in our series of core issues we hope Columbia ACS and FedSoc members will take up in mutual discussion.

While an appropriate Federalist position may consist of only one citation (Kelo), there are some more fundamental problems associated with "efficient uses" of property, as defined by a government instead of the market. Setting aside the issue of holdouts (which is substantial, to be sure), when a person is offered "just compensation" for their home, this value is assessed by some external appraisal, usually equivalent to what the person would have gotten if they had sold their house that day on the open market. This process of valuation inherently undercompensates those who are displaced by governmental activity; after all, if the homeowner found the prevailing market rate to be an appropriate valuation of their home, they might have already chosen to sell it. There is no way an objective appraisal can accurately include the sentimental attachment one feels towards his or her home, let alone the actual costs of displacement. If the essence of property is to allow a property holder the liberty to use the property as they see fit, public takings are tenuous concepts, which must be tempered by respect for individual autonomy and valuation.

To see what the ACS blog has to say on the topic, click here.

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