Freedom Updates: April 26, 2006: Al White Kills Eminent Domain Bill

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Al White Kills Eminent Domain Bill

Freedom Updates: April 26, 2006

by Ari Armstrong

Hope for Eminent Domain Reform Rests with Signatures

I got a call at about 12:20 p.m., April 24, from a woman from Representative Al White's office. She said that, as anticipated, White killed his measure that would have referred a measure to this fall's ballot to reform eminent domain. He was displeased that the language had been weakened, The Denver Post reported on April 20. In its original wording, White's measure would have accomplished the same goals as those of the petition drive now underway. Now the hopes of property-rights advocates rest on the effort to gather enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

Chris Frates reported for the April 25 Post: "The sponsor of a constitutional amendment to prevent governments from taking land for economic development killed his proposal Monday but said he is willing to work with the House speaker on a proposed compromise."

I spoke briefly on the phone today with Marsha Looper of Colorado Citizens for Property Rights. She blamed the legislative fall of the legislative eminent domain measure on amendments tacked onto the bill. However, she said, volunteers continue to collect signatures at large events and public locations. She said she should know a hard signature count this weekend, which hopefully will motivate supporters to make a big push to place the measure on the ballot.


Reisman Catalogs the Costs of Unions

Economist George Reisman recently described the many harms that result from coercive union legislation and power. He focuses on the harms to GM, but his analysis applies widely.

To summarize Reisman's article -- well worth reading in full -- coercive unions cause the following problems. Businesses cannot easily fire unproductive or unscrupulous employees. Businesses must put up with make-work projects and resistance to technological innovations. American cars are more expensive to produce, relative to prominent foreign-made cars. Wages in highly-unionized markets are too high (resulting in less employment in those markets and lower wages elsewhere). Unions also pressure businesses to offer long-term pensions and other benefits that threaten businesses with bankruptcy and workers with the resulting harms.

In a follow-up article, Reisman explains the real source of rising real wages: "Real wages rise as the result of capital accumulation and the rise in the productivity of labor, which operates to make prices fall relative to wage rates. In combating the rise in the productivity of labor, unions actively combat the rise in real wages."


Successful Emergency Service Not Run by Fire Departments

Patrick Sperry, responding to an article in Grand Junction Free Press (see April 17, 2006) sent in the following comments on April 24:

"Well written as always, yet a few things need to be pointed out. The most successful EMS operations are in fact 'Third Service' and NOT a part of a fire department. The best examples being Denver Health and Weld County. I know from where I speak. More than twenty years in EMS in Colorado gives one a bit of insight.

"Fire departments, as in North Metro, West Metro and several others look at EMS as a cash cow. Further, it justifies their existence. The numbers may have changed since I retired but roughly ninety percent of all responses are EMS. Not fires or hazards related to fire service.

"Funding is always a problem. Nice pretty machine guns for the police, and huge shiny apparatus for firefighters to ride around in are a lot more attractive than ambulances. Until you need a reliable, modernly equipped and staffed ambulance that is. With reimbursements from the government and insurance companies dropping the cash incentive is not nearly as attractive as it was even just a few years ago. The solution, in many folks eyes is to get it all lumped in together. The Fire Services are everyones heros, so they get the most attention and they want all the pie. So to speak. -- Patrick Sperry N.R.E.M.T.- Paramedic (retired)"


Gun Owners: Welcome to Colorado

An April 20 release from the Second Amendment Foundation states:

The Census Bureau has reported what amounts to a "domestic migration" from three large cities in three key states, and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) blames much of this population flight on repressive gun laws.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that, according to the Census Bureau, states losing the most people are New York, California and Illinois.

"This is no mystery," said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. "Those states are infamous for their anti-gun attitudes. Countless times have we heard from people who have moved from those states because they wanted to escape the Draconian gun laws.

"The Census Bureau reports that New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles lost the most residents between 2000 and 2004," Gottlieb continued. "Anti-gun politicians and their restrictive gun laws have made it virtually impossible for average law-abiding citizens to get a concealed pistol license in Los Angeles or New York City. In Chicago, you can't own an unregistered handgun, and they no longer register handguns.

"Americans prefer to live where they can enjoy freedom and liberty, rather than depend upon an oppressive, disinterested municipal bureaucracy for their safety," he said...

There's clearly something to this, though obviously many other factors, including economic liberty, play a role in people's moves. Gun laws are probably a major factor for a few but a minor one for many.

Still, I hope gun owners will choose to move into Colorado (or into relatively free neighboring states, such as Wyoming). Yes, we have our share of problems and bad laws, but overall we're doing okay, and the more liberty-minded people that move here, the more successful we'll be.

While federalism can be abused to rationalize the violation of individual rights by state governments, I'm a big believer in using the federalist system to advance individual rights regionally. While ideally all fifty states would move toward liberty, I want at least a few states to do so, and that's more likely if people who love liberty move here.

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