Takings: NPR Gets Taken

National Public Radio (NPR) did a piece today on a series of ballot initiatives in western states that would prohibit regulatory �taking.� �Takings� in this context are defined as government regulations that reduce the value of property. This could happen, for example, if the government limited development on a plot of land in order to prevent congestion.

NPR bought the right-wing story on this one hook, line and sinker. The piece portrayed the issue as a tough moral call between the rights of the individual and the interests of the larger community. I hope they got a big contribution from the takings crew.

Let�s get back to reality. The government takes actions all the time that both decrease and increase the value of property. It builds airports and roads that make the property accessible. It constructs schools, parks, and streetlights that have the effect of making property desirable and safe. The rugged individualists in the takings story are not sending checks to the government every time it does something that increases the value of their property.

Nope, the rugged individualists in the takings stories are not libertarians who want the government out of their life, they are crybabies who want all the benefits that they can get from the government, but never want to pay any of the costs. In fact, the poster child in this story wanted compensation for being denied the opportunity to develop a parcel of land that he owned for more than twenty years. Apparently, he was just getting around to developing the land when the government decided to prohibit the development. Right � this guy wants to get compensated for his dreams.

Well, we all want a free lunch, but that is not a serious political philosophy. NPR deserves a lot of grief for presenting it as one.

-- Dean Baker

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