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Libertarian Questions | Missouri Political News Service

Libertarian Questions

August 30th, 2007 by mopns · No Comments

Former Show Me Institute editor and now Cato Institute adjunct scholar Tim Lee, discusses “tensions in libertarian theory.”

Technology Liberation Front blog:

Recently I’ve noticed an interesting tension in libertarian theory. As I’ve mentioned before, I just completed work on a new paper on eminent domain abuse in Missouri that will be published by the Show-Me Institute next month. The basic conclusion of my paper is that eminent domain should only be allowed for public use—that the government should have the power to take someone’s property (with compensation) to build a road or a courthouse, but not to build a Wal-Mart or a shopping mall. One of the interesting wrinkles to this issue is what to do about public utilities: railroads, power lines, oil and gas pipelines, phone and cable services, etc. Like roads, these facilities are subject to serious holdout problems. And since the mid-19th century, the courts have held that takings for the construction of such infrastructure is a public use, provided that the railroad (or later other service) acted as a common carrier. As I understand it, for precisely this reason railroads were subject to certain common carrier requirements under the common law before the creation of the ICC.

That’s the tack we libertarians tend to take today. For example, here in Missouri I played a small role in drafting this proposed amendment to the Missouri constitution, which reads, in part, “property may be taken for transportation or utility facilities or transmission systems used by a railroad, regulated utility or rural electric cooperative.” Read more…



Tags: Eminent Domain · Show Me Institute

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