|The Foley Flap and the Honor Wars||Euro-Humanity Upon The Wane|
by Christopher Chantrill
October 15, 2006 at 12:43 pm
THE PEOPLE of Nevada have a problem. About 90 percent of the land in the state is owned by the federal government. This makes it difficult for them to develop land for homes, schools, offices, and strip malls, the infrastructure they need to support their families.
But they are not fools. They have elected to the United States Senate a man with the skills not only to untangle their Social Security benefit problems but also to provide them with the land they need, a man with the cojones to wrestle with bureaucrats, zoning boards, and rich environmental groups and force them to surrender good Nevada land for the beneficial use of Nevada families.
In the corporate sector, this is called synergy.
Recently, the synergistic work of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has come under public scrutiny. On October 11 Associated Press reporters John Solomon and Kathleen Hennessey detailed how Reid, with considerable skill, managed to get a parcel of land on the outskirts of Las Vegas rezoned from residential into a shopping center. And a blogger, AJStrata, showed that Senator Reid is no amateur. Clark County, Nevada, has recorded numerous real estate transactions in recent years involving Harry M Reid.
Like most working people, Harry Reid likes to be compensated for his trouble. In the Vegas land deal, Reid took $1.1 million of the proceeds, nearly tripling the senators investment of $400,000, according to the AP. Some people call this kind of profit price gouging, but what do they know?
Are the critics suggesting that the net present value of the beneficial use of Harry Reids land to the people of Las Vegas, the value of jobs, of convenient shopping, and time saved is anything less than tens of millions of dollars? And what of the incalculable benefits? With this land now available for development, Nevada residents can stay where they are in Las Vegas, working at good jobs and raising their families. California families, embattled with the high taxes and government regulations for which their state is famous, can move to Nevada. They can be confident that the brilliant manipulations of real-estate speculator Harry Reid will provide them with the homes and the urban infrastructure they need. What price for that?
The real question is whether Senator Reids activities come up to the mark for transparency and global best practice. Should United States Senators be allowed to trade in land when they are using their power and influence to increase the value of that land? Maybe they should. If so, then should United States Senators be obliged to post details of their land transactions on the Internet within 24 hours of any change or face a $100,000 fine and a year in jail? Should they even be obliged to publish their land transactions in advance?
The problem isnt that United States Senators trade in land and use their power and influence to improve the value of the land they own. The problem is that that the American people are shut out of the process. And that is wrong.
This might not be a problem for Republican Senators. As University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R. Stone asserts in connection with the legal system, conservatives want to protect property rights and the interests of corporations, commercial advertisers and the wealthy like Senator Reid and his partners. So if a wealthy conservative senator grabs all the profits from a land development deal, no problem for conservatives.
But surely liberal Democratic senators cannot endure this sort of thing. As Stone says: Because liberals respect competing values, such as procedural fairness and individual dignity, they weigh more carefully particular exercises of government power. And there is no area of government activity where exercise of government power is more particular than in the zoning of real estate.
Here is an idea. We should set up an on-line market in senatorial land deals. Every senator would be required to post his land holdings, whether direct or through an investment company or partnership. Ordinary Americans could then buy futures in the land in an online market similar to the Iowa Electronic Markets.
No, wait. Here is a better idea. All senatorial land holdings should be displayed in an online map application like Google Maps or the real-estate site Zillow, where you can look up the value of your neighbors house. And then just by clicking on the map ordinary Americans could access an online market in senatorial land futures.
Please do not think that Senator Reid, a Democratic senator sensitive to competing values, was swinging these land development deals just for the money. Oh no. He was undoubtedly engaged in delicate research to determine the particular ways in which government power is exercised in the zoning of land and the management of urban growth for his Nevada constituents. Now that his researches are complete we can expect that he will shortly introduce legislation in the Senate to curb abuses in commercial land development practices and will donate all his windfall profits to worthy Nevada charities.
It is a comforting thought.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State
Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since
1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and
philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West
Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its
characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then,
once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital