View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, December 22, 2003

More Property Rights

This time in Clear Creek County, where the Norsemen of the Rockies, a fellowship lodge of Norwegians, is having an easement condemned so a developer can build on prime land located above their lodge. Now, an easement is different from having your whole property whisked out from under your feet, it's true. Still, the guy has other access routes. The access route is, theoretically, only for the reservoir he wants to build. To serve the community he's developing. None of the rest of the development has approval yet, either.

You can argue that it's not fair for the Norsemen to sit athwart the tide of development, shouting "Halt!" or whatever it is they shout in Norwegian. But it's not like Mr. Pals didn't know they were there when he bought the land. He claims this deal is better than the alternative. I say that's for them to decide. He claims they don't live or vote in Clear Creek County. Thus says Harlan Pals, of Harlan Pals & Associates, based in St. Charles, Mo. I'd say they have a lot close relationship to the county than he does.

The again, since they're Norwegian, maybe he just wants to buy them a one-way ticket to Minneapolis. See Above.

One notion of Jewish law is that it affects every aspect of your life, including business affairs. With All Your Possessions is Rabbi Meir Tamari's authoritative look at economic life under Jewish law. He points out that the Rabbis claim that the Jews only earned the loss of the Temple and exile when they "sold the poor people cheaply." They interpret this to mean that the wealthy bought land surrounding that of the poor, cutting off access and forcing them to sell cheaply. Whether or not you buy this, indeed, whether or not you're even Jewish, the lesson is clear - you can't just alienate the common man from the economic system around him. A society like ours works best when it's free from envy. But dispossessing people unfairly only feeds that beast, and helps to break down common bonds and community.

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