Protecting Property Rights to Preserve Freedom and Prosperity: A Memo to President-elect Obama
by Andrew M. Grossman
Special Report #40
Our Constitution places the ownership of private property at the very heart of our system of liberty.... The result of this business culture has been a prosperity that's unmatched in human history.... Our greatest asset has been our system of social organization, a system that for generations has encouraged constant innovation, individual initiative and the efficient allocation of resources.
--Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope.
...But as Americans have learned in recent years, and especially in recent months, their valuable property rights are under assault from all levels of government by seemingly well-meaning public officials who fail to consider the long-term consequences of their actions. Most strikingly, the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London sparked widespread public outrage. The Court's conclusion that the term "public use" in the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not limit the purposes for which the government may take a citizen's home caused Americans of all social stripes to recognize that their own property may be at risk of expropriation for transfer to more influential private parties for their own private ends.