Freedom Isn’t Free

A cautionary tale from the real estate world:

The Fifth Amendment ends saying, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” In the end, this is private, not public property. The same person that wants to dictate what can and cannot happen on private property, does not want anyone to tell them what they can and cannot do to their own house. I understand development more than the average person. Because an ex-employee wanted to get back at me, he asked for one of my projects to be considered a landmark for no other reason than it was old enough to fit the criteria. So I have been through the Landmark process and have spent a large amount of money all to have the Landmark board unanimously vote NO.

Going through this process made me question my political rights. Political freedom is being free from tyranny and free to own what you want to own as long as it does not harm anyone else, or abuse their rights. This is the point where opposition becomes confused. Opposition may use the argument that development of the Ballard Dennys would harm or abuse their rights, but on what grounds? I am sure John McCullough (attorney hired by Benaroya) will appeal this decision on the simple ground that this is private property and will not harm or abuse other’s rights.

We are all giving these personal freedoms and Ken Alhadeff, the owner of Majestic Bay Theatres said it perfectly. “If you choose to designate, you must be part of the solution. And then what? What’s the next step? Who will restore it? What will it be?”

Sadly, Jon, the answer is that Ken Alhadeff is wrong.  You don’t have to be part of the solution; you can just make the private landowner pay.  You don’t have to show harm or abuse or any such thing — you just have to have the power to compel private property owners to buckle under to the will of the majority.

At a time when large numbers of Americans accept rent control laws, believing that all those laws do is “stick it to the rich”, why anyone would continue to believe that appeals to conscience would preserve personal freedoms such as private property rights is beyond me.  Freedom isn’t free.  It must be defended, and vigorously, not just from foreign enemies, but from the far more dangerous domestic enemies.

In the aftermath of Kelo, the number of Americans who are clueless about where various local candidates stand on the issue of private property rights is astonishing.

People deserve the leaders that they get.  I would suggest Jon consider running for office, or supporting someone for office who cares about private property rights and personal freedom.


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Rob Hahn

Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

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