David M. Brown's Blog

September 24, 2012

New York Times reporter writes as if a property owner altering house is hypocritical because he fought eminent domain

Filed under: Media and journalism,Philosophy,Politics — davidmbrowndotcom @ 8:00 pm

The issue is property rights.

Ms. Frost, who sold earlier this year, said she was especially perplexed by Mr. Goldstein’s construction project since he had spent so many years agitating on behalf of his neighbors and their property rights as the Atlantic Yards developer, Forest City Ratner, muscled in. (Forest City Ratner also was the development partner for the headquarters of The New York Times Company.)

Mr. Goldstein called the comparison “laughable and offensive.”

“Are you kidding me?” he said by e-mail when first asked to comment on his neighbors’ displeasure.

In his calmer moments…

Why is the article writer or any reader treating as even vaguely equivalent the following: 1) coercively throwing a person off of property he owns and 2) a person’s developing his own property? The property owner discussed here has been adding an extension to his home on his own property. He has not been using eminent domain to take over neighboring plots owned by somebody else. Goldstein is consistent if in the one case he fought a developer using eminent domain to steal properties and in the other fought neighbors attempting to forcibly stop him from developing his own property. In each case, he defended property rights against those seeking to violate property rights.

“I don’t like how X is exercising his rights” is no argument for violating the rights of property owner who develops his own property. Lots of people dislike lots of things that other people do. If we could exercise the power of law to prevent others from doing anything we happen to dislike, there would be little or nothing that any of us could freely do by right. Our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including the right to the use and control of property we honestly acquire, should be protected precisely so that we can act to sustain and improve our lives as we see fit despite the desire some others may have to interfere.


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